Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference, part 5: Jenny Levine - "Librarian 2.0: New breed or just another day at the office?"

[From Part 4]

Jenny Levine.

She started by citing D. W. Krummel's 1999 paper, "The seven ages of librarianship".

Jenny levine

Jenny suggests Library 2.0: is the Eighth stage.

Or Library 8.0.

And we have already successfully made the transition.

Eighth age - Jenny Levine

Says social media really is just another day in the office, but the office is not the traditional one.

"Libraries cannot contain ourselves to our website". (How would you interpret this?)

Suggests it's about planting many avenues for people to connect to our libraries.

Spoke of unintended consequences, when libraries move to social media.

Five practical things libraries could do, according to Jenny:
  • Learn about RSS
  • Build flexible spaces on and offline
  • Engage your most active users
  • Play
  • Find a community online

Most memorable takeaway from Jenny's presentation: she said libraries need to " put the librarian back in the catalogue".

It was a "Wow-why-didn't-I-see-that" moment for me.

Personal takes
Jenny's remarks made me realise that when libraries computerised the card catalogue, we essentially took the librarian out of the search equation.e

Not that it was wrong. The reasons for doing so was right (i.e. efficiency for the user).

In a larger context, I think what Jenny suggests is a reflection of the trend towards OPACS as a social space. Even seen as a shared space between librarians and library users.

Social OPAC initiatives, like SOPAC , is one (see also John Blyberg's post).

The other example that I know is SmartCAT by Hong Kong University Science & Technology Library (hat-tip to Yan Hong).

When I showed this to Hazman and John, Hazman said "They have put a OPAC on a blog".


I think it's more accurate to say that they've put a bulletin board on a OPAC. Makes it easy to Ask A Librarian.

In fact, it's a subtle reminder that the librarian is there. And questions are posted by users direct (rather than "cleaned up" by the library, which loses the authenticity).

Brilliant idea.

It is a re-think of the purpose of OPAC.

The social space becomes primary, while the search-function is more or less a given.

I agree with Jenny that social media is "just another day in the office". It's the current reality.

Very soon, people would be wondering what all the fuss about Web 2.0 was about.

Just like today, it's a given that Fiction works and Children's Services would be part of a public library's collection and services. Apparently, they were never the norm (see "The seven ages of librarianship").

(p.s. Woot! Finally met the famous Jenny Levine. Quiet and soft-spoken in person. She was one of the first information professional who established an online presence, way before all the talk of “Web 2.0”).

[Next: Part 6]


  1. Anonymous11:18 am

    It was completely *my* honor, Ivan - it was great to meet you! I'm just sorry we didn't get more time to chat, but I'd like to follow up on the blog idea we talked about.

    And I loved your presentation. :)


  2. Thanks for the kind words, Jenny. Yes, I'll definitely be following-up with you about featuring some Library 2.0 librarians in the SEA region. We'll definitely be in touch!


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