Monday, August 27, 2007

The Cult of Twopointopia

Earnest, humorless librarians should never read the AL. I only say this to save the time of the reader, which supposedly I'm obliged to do, since it's a "law" of library "science" (perhaps I put the quotes in the wrong places; repunctuate to suit yourself). The earnest humorless folks just don't get it. Wait. No, the earnest and humorless librarians should read, because then they comment and give me something humorous to read while occasionally providing me with blog fodder. Earnest, humorless librarians, read on!

My favorite responses to the AL are from those librarians who just can't seem to believe anyone would write this stuff. They are shocked, SHOCKED, that anyone would disagree with them or make fun of this pompous profession. The regressive librarians probably don't fit in this category, since they're used to people disagreeing with them. Disagreement just shows how righteous they are and how evil everyone else is.

But the twopointopians definitely do. For them, disagreement lets them show how self-righteous and "user-centered" they are, while showing how clueless and selfish everyone else is. You see, the twopointopians "get it," while the rest of us just don't understand. They're like religious converts preaching the gospel of 2.0 to everyone, and they just can't understand either that nobody cares, or that everyone already knows about it.

[Note: I should state for the record that not everyone who advocates "user-centered" services or the use of social software is a twopointopian. Twopointopians are those folks who have the fervor of converts or ideologues, who want a "movement" and a "manifesto," who want to preach their gospel and ignore criticism, who claim all their critics are just selfish and not sufficiently "user-centered," who believe there's only one good way, their faddish new way.]

Take one comment from last week, for example.

"Pretty please, tell me that this blog is a joke - an SNL-like spoof of postings by a librarian who hates their job and the people they serve (and ought to get the heck out of the field). In case it's not - I have to respond..."

Hmmm. I'm never sure how to consider comments like this. Since the person said "pretty please," I'll attempt an answer, even though I think that "pretty please" was smug and self-righteous. In a sense, this blog is a joke, and sometimes it's even funny. Is that what you wanted to hear? On the other hand, it's not a joke. That's what we librarians call a paradox. (I guess that's what everyone else calls it, too.) Then comes the ungrammatical advice about how if it's not a joke then I hate my job and the people I serve, and I ought to get the heck out of this field. Well, that's possibly true. Since I rarely talk about my job or my users, I'll ignore that swipe as being based on inadequate knowledge. But let's not let total ignorance ever get in the way of criticizing something; my critics often don't worry about that.

But should I leave the profession? Or should, instead, all the people who annoy me leave? Whose profession is this, anyway? It's an open question. Though what such advice implies is that anyone who doesn't go along with the twopointopian rhetoric or who has any criticisms of the profession just shouldn't be a librarian. It's sort of like that stupid "America: Love It or Leave It" rhetoric. Librarianship: love it or leave it! One might be tempted to say the same thing to the rabid twopointopians, since they seem to be the ones so frustrated by their crusty colleagues. Maybe I'm trying to save the profession from looking like it's run by simpletons and humorless ideologues who think library 2.0 daily affirmations are supposed to impress intelligent people as anything but gibberish.

But the commenter goes on:
"'What if my users are complete idiots?'
This is your problem in a nutshell."

But what exactly is my problem? I've never been inside a nutshell, so I need some elaboration. Are you saying that I said my users are idiots? That's certainly not what I said. My question was in response to the daily library 2.0 affirmation for me to "educate myself about the information culture of my users" and adapting to it. But the question stands. What if my users are idiots? Do I adapt myself to their culture? Or what if, like many of my users in academia, their information culture won't get them what they need? Should I adapt myself to them, or should I teach them? Should I give them what you seem to think they want, or what I think they need? Or are you in fact saying that my users are actually idiots, and that's my problem? That's certainly one interpretation of your vague comment. But how do you know who my users are, and why are you calling them idiots?

And then the correction:
"Library2.0 has never been solely about the technology - it's always been about providing user-centered library services. As I've said to IT departments who've been arrogant toward librarians whom they are supposed to support - you need to start with a basic respect for the people you serve."

Oh, okay. That clears everything up. So no librarian before this "library 2.0" bandwagon pulled into town every thought about "user-centered library services." And I'm glad it's only those IT folks who are arrogant, and not the twopointopians who seem to think that anyone who criticizes them can't possibly be "user-centered." This commenter seems to think I don't read what the twopointopians themselves say. I hate to break it to you, baby, but it ain't all daily affirmations. Disagree with any part of the program, and suddenly you don't care about the "users." Point out evidence that plenty of users don't want anything to do with some of these initiatives, and you're just not on the "cluetrain." Dare to suggest that the twopointopians actually come up with some arguments instead of just gushing homilies, and you're just mean.

And then comes the stinger:
"And in case you can't remember who it is you're serving - think about this, your "idiot" users are providing you with a paycheck.
[OK, in that case - perhaps your characterization was correct - they're idiots for keeping someone like you employed.]"

Ouch! That would hurt if the commenter wasn't so clueless. So let me make sure I have this right. If I'm critical of any of the propaganda, self-righteousness, or contempt of the twopointopians, then I'm not sufficiently "user-centered" and shouldn't be allowed to work as a librarian? Is that what you're saying? If I disagree with you or criticize your little religio-political library 2.0 movement, then the problem is me, right? I just need to join the 2.0 church, is that it? And I'm not allowed to think dissident thoughts or question the wisdom of my 2.0 betters, who are obviously so much smarter and wiser than I am because they have blogs? It that it? Oh, and why do you keep calling my users idiots?

This has all the hallmarks of the convert and the ideologue, political or religious. The converts and ideologues all like to set up these false dichotomies: Agree with me or you're evil (or perhaps just stupid). Accept without criticism whatever gobbledygook my fellow convert and ideologue says, or you're a bad person. Do things my way or you aren't "user-centered."

For the diehard twopointopians, their way is the way. They don't like criticism or discussion, because they're not up to it. They like captive audiences of neophytes who they can impress with their speeches about all this great new stuff. They like to use the mystique of social software and new technologies to impress upon their crusty colleagues how hip they are. They like to pretend that people who aren't impressed with how righteous and "user-centered" they all are are just ignorant clowns who don't know anything about how libraries ought to be run.

The problem is, I'm not a neophyte. I am a librarian who knows how to use all this stuff, and I've been serving "users" for years. I'm the knowledgeable skeptic who isn't awed because some librarian knows how to blog. Also, I'm skeptical, and whenever anyone starts jabbering about yet another "movement" with its own "manifesto," I can't help but criticize it. I don't jump on bandwagons. I don't follow fads. I'm not a convert or an ideologue. I'm interested in healthy discussion and debate, and am all for appropriate "user-centered" services, but I'm not impressed by some librarian doing her Stuart Smalley impression in American Libraries.

So save your daily affirmations and your professions of faith for someone else. I'm not interested. I, like a lot of librarians, am perfectly comfortable with using technology to connect with library users and teaching other people about it. But I don't want to join your cult, because I can't check my brain at the door and chant your mantras with you.

Oh, and thanks for reading.

56 comments:

undead_librarian said...

all hail the AL - long may she reign...

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an eloquent vituperative rebuttal to the knee-jerk defensive hogwash that the 2.0er’s comment really was. What I find interesting about all this Library 2.0 nonsense, is that, for the most part, it’s just another name for things libraries have been doing all along. Yes, the technology is different and, culture shifts and changes, but the essence of it all remains the same. Think about it: what library hasn’t been “user-centered?” The very term, “user-centered” itself is meaningless. Also, drug dealers are “user-centered” as well—so what? Tell me something I don’t know.

Instead of user-centered, the term (as far as I understand it) should be rephrased as “user-determined” or “user-managed.”

And, as far as letting the user run the show completely, well, how about asking the woman who came up to my reference desk awhile ago looking for information on the location of a store and when I told her that it was in New York City, she just looked at me like she’d just be dosed with Thorazine and asked, “where’s that?” (And, no, I don’t live in Belarus.)

Soren Faust

Anonymous said...

I would consider it an honor to work for someone like you, AL.

David, Library Tech. up. North said...

The twopointopia's are boring boring BORING people, who perhaps easily burst into tears during childhood (maybe after being glared at by a tight-bun librarian for wanting to borrow too many books on LCSH for Grade Schoolers). I am always a bit leery of people who can't laugh at themselves.
Sad, sad, sad,.....

tailgunner said...

"Twopointopians...who believe there's only one good way, their faddish new way."

There is nothing quite like an elitist librarian. How's that for "user-centered"?

Anonymous said...

I can smell the smoke from that flame all the way out here.

The 2.0 warriors remind me too much of the wheat paste librarians of the last decade. (The term came from an article, look it up) The Internet was supposed to save us all, and librarians were going to jump on the bandwagon.

We, er...they, I'm no longer a librarian, were supposed to be at the forefront of making web pages and setting up the databases and whatever.

The deluge of job postings for Internet specialists requiring an MLS should tell you how that worked out.

One of my fellow students at that time, one of the few who did manage to have a good career, had remarked about how it was surprising people didn't figure out how libraries worked and did it all themselves.

So now we're at the point the public really is able to do it all themselves, and the libraries are jumping on that bandwagon, too. To me it seems a really bad idea to let everyone vent their opinion, and consider opinion more important than fact or actual research.

Cripes, for the 2.0 people to get caught up on current events requires an RSS feed to two dozen blogs and assorted podcasts.

Even the old skool way of a user group worked better, and that's before the obsolete and outdated peer review journal.

However, the 2.0 crowd knows whats best for you and you can't question them, just like political correctness.

Jenn said...

Thanks for publicly voicing your free-thinking resistance. There's been some grumbling about the jumping on of bandwagons when it comes to 2.0 technology, but your cult analogy seems more apt.

I am actually very much interested and involved in social software applications and their use in libraries, but I've been wildly frustrated by the inability of the "twopointopians" to speak to criticism with more intellectual rigor than "you either love it or you hate it".

Even those at the vanguard of popular 2.0 "movements" (I'm thinking specifically of librarians deeply involved in Second Life) don't have clear answers to the very legitimate questions and concerns of the curious, let alone the highly skeptical.

I find it so discouraging that librarians are unable (or worse, unwilling) to examine these issues critically and scholarly.

Librarianship is a profession, not a hobby.

libraryjim said...

On the NEWLib list, we just had one person post a rant about the "RefGrunt blog", wherein that librarian posts the answers to all the reference quesitons asked during the day. It's a very humorous blog with very few 'personal' observations. (I wish he/she would post the questions, too!)

However, this person took great offense that ANYONE in the profession could be so UNprofessional as to 'air dirty laundry' re: patron's questions and thus open our profession up to scathing rebuke from those in the public on the outside looking in (are there really that many?), and from whom we expect funding.

Thankfully most of the responses were along the lines of "get a life! It's FUNNY!"

I don't think that person would appreciate AL, either, somehow.

Jim Elliott
Tallahassee, FL

Anonymous said...

It shines like laser light
Its in my dreams at night
cause I've been all my life
On the road to twopointopia

I will be there to share your tragedy
I know that you would do the same for me
Its no trouble at all on the road to twotopia

When day is over and Im trying to sleep
It comes so easy cause Im not counting sheep
I am counting the smiles on the road to twotopia...

(Nothing like a power synth ballad to start your week)

Are we dealing with a cult?

1. People are put in physically or emotionally distressing situations;

The stains in the bathrooms alone scream "YES!"

2. their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized;

Is it "mahn-tra" or "man-tra?" Either way...

3. they receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from the leader;

Humorless, but love nonetheless.

4. they get a new identity based on the group;

check

5. they are subject to entrapment and their access to information is severely controlled.

I swear I am not making this up. These are the accepted conditions of a cult. Literally "Psychology 101" (Carole Wade et al., 2005).

--Taupey

AL said...

Ha, Taupey, that's very good. I wish I'd thought to do that kind of analysis.

And I say "mahn-tra."

Dances With Books said...

Hmm, I may do that cult analysis sometime. I am glad I am not the only one who at times felt like this whole 2.0 stuff is a cult, and I am a bad person for not drinking the Kool-Aid.

AL, you said what needed to be said. Heck, you said a lot of what I have been thinking in one form or another over time. Personally, I have tended to stay away from the 2.0 conversation after asking one question too many and gotten shot down (this was on my other blog). Some of the e-mails I got were, shall we say, spooky? Anyhow, you keep up the good fight. And thanks.

And Soren, nice idea about drug dealers being "user centered." After all, they are all about giving the customer what they want, right? Hmm, kind of like some of those librarians who are about giving the customer what they want no matter the cost or usefulness.

Anonymous said...

"twopointopian" . . . if you haven't sent this neologism in to the OED folks, please do. It deserves to be preserved. Right up there with "big-endian" and "little-endian".

- - - Some other guy

Anonymous said...

Ah, AL. Depressing and refreshing all at once. Oops, another paradox!

Anonymous said...

Thank you once again for providing a light in the dark. I think this 2.0 thing is looking a lot like fascism. I have to keep reminding myself that I am a good librarian, even though I'm not one of them.

libraryjim said...

Frankly, what's really getting to me is the twopointer "E-Government" services supposedly available with librarian asistance at the library.

We have people coming in for everything from food stamps to driver's tests (ever try to explain that the computer limit is one hour with a four hour test?).


All of a sudden, we, who cannot even tell a patron which tax form to take, now have to be experts at filling out all sorts of government forms, not to mention knowing how to FIND the forms on the myriad (or is that plethora?) of gov't web sites out there? Most of which are not "User Friendly" in the first place? And while most of our staff is competant at using the catalog and circulation computer, the internet baffles most of them.


That's what makes me glad when I have books to catalog so I don't have to spend so much time at the reference desk!

Jim Elliott
rural north Florida

david lee king said...

"What I find interesting about all this Library 2.0 nonsense"

"The twopointopia's are boring boring BORING people, who perhaps easily burst into tears during childhood"

"There is nothing quite like an elitist librarian"

"I think this 2.0 thing is looking a lot like fascism"

Dang! It's a good thing you commenters don't have knee-jerk reactions or anything... sheesh!

Of the 2.0 speakers I know, none of them say anything about cults, mantras, or either/or. They're all about improving library services with new tools, and are attempting to show how one can thrive by using 2.0 tools.

You annonymous commenters - instead of calling 2.0 speakers and bloggers fascists... why not add something constructive to the conversation?

libraryjim said...

oops, my comment was supposed to go on the 'anti-twopoint manifesto' thread. Shheesh! How can I become a twopointer when I can't even post to the right thread?

Jim Elliott
Florida

Anonymous said...

Yo, David Lee Roth, aren't you out on tour this summer?

Thanks for verifying the "humorless" label and by your argumentum ad hominem equally well verifying the thoughtlessness and lack of intellectual sophistication of twopointopians.

"Look into my eyes, what do you see?
Cult of personality
I know your anger, I know your dreams
I’ve been everything you want to be..."

("Cult of Personality," Living Colour 1988)

--Taupey

Ryan Deschamps said...

Even AL has tried to make the distinction between those who are interested in new technologies and user-centered services and those who would like to brow-beat Library 2.0 into everyone.

Yet, there are all these anonymous commenters out there rah rah-ing against library 2.0 -- even going as far as to relate it with fascism? (Is a fascism claim enough to invoke Godwin's law?)

It kind of reminds me of "The Life of Brian." Tell people to think for themselves and they will chant "we must think for ourselves."

Anonymous said...

re: Ryan:

Godwin's law? search-search, oh, that's what it is. True, I'd say invoking fascism may be a little too much, but a lot of the 2.0 worls seems to hinge on three things:

1. The 2.0 crowd is embracing the whole 2.0 concept for no other reason than things like social networking sites are popular. I've yet to see anyone explain how being on an interactive game like Second Life has improved things for libraries. Most importantly, no one's showing that the public actually is demanding and wanting these services.

2. Libraries are now requiring new applicants to be versed in Web 2.0 concepts and use them wholeheartedly for library "teaching". People who disagree are largely out of luck. So sorry, see ya, wouldn't want to be ya.

3. None of the 2.0 crowd seems to be considering that it maybe an interactive and editable library could be a bad idea, as in leading libraries further along the path to irrelevance.

What I've found is the 2.0 crowd is just like the wheat paste librarians of the early Internet boom, latching onto something in order to appear relevant and "with it" rather than seriously appreciating the concepts' merits *and* demerits.

When people have to keep quiet on their opposing views, to avoid appearing unwilling to embrace what just *has* to be a good idea or be unable to gain employment, it may not be fascism, but it's certainly not anything good.

Anonymous said...

OK David, here is a constructive comment: Let's ban the term "library 2.0" from the lexicon. Libraries have always served users (we used to call them patrons, or people), and have used technology towards those ends. The term is sufficiently vague as to be interpreted however one sees fit, and in the wrong hands, can be a very dangerous weapon.

AL said...

I meant to weigh in earlier today, but got caught doing something useful and productive instead. I'll second the comment about removing "library 2.0" from use, for the reasons mentioned. It offers little new, and it makes it easy for frauds and charlatans to cobble together some kind of fake "movement" and publish puerile "manifestos."

However, I also think the fascism comparison is way over the top.

A useful suggestion, David? How about avoiding fads and faddish language and bandwagon propaganda and quit trying to preach a 2.0 gospel to everyone. I read the blogs of the twopointopians, and they often seem to be a group of self-referential proselytizers who think that new social software tools are the second coming.

I have nothing against any of you personally, David, and I'm sure you're all nice people, but reading the barrage of 2.0 propaganda from you and others gets tiresome to a lot of people. You're trying to form a movement, which is why you have little graphs about library 2.0 and you engage in 2.0 boosterism whenever possible. You do have mantras, and you chant them frequently.

And very fact of having a trendy, trite phrase such as "Library 2.0" suggests a cult. You have a sacred phrase, and you all try to define what it really means. Whatever it is must be good, but regardless keep chanting the mantra "Library 2.0" to convert the faithless to the new cult.

I've tried to be clear that I distinguish between people interested in user-centered services or social software and the twopointopians. The twopointopians are those who keep chanting the "library 2.0" mantra and trying to promote themselves and their movement, versus those who, for example, are content to explore the possible uses of social software and teach others to use it without chanting the mantra.

This idiotic "2.0 manifesto" is just the latest from the twopointopians, and by far the most nauseating. It reeks of a 12 step program, and so suggests not only that there is a cult of twopointopia but that all who don't join the cult are in need of psychological help.

Those in the cult never realize it's a cult. They just think it's the truth.

janitorx said...

I am sure many of you have heard of this new controversial book by Andrew Keen, The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture. Of course, this is a macro view of internet culture, but his premise certainly reflects what is going on with this Library 2.0 mess. My personal theory is that a lot of these twopointopians where raised during the self-esteem era in education and taught that everyone is capable of learning everything. Library 2.0 seems to be a continuation of this philosophy that has actually proven to be an utter failure (last time I checked this was backed by peer reviewed research!).

At the same time, I am not a complete naysayer about 2.0 stuff. Specifically, I think OPACS can be improved, but the argument for Second Life has no teeth.

Anonymous said...

I can sum it up better this way:

In the old days, back when I had hope and could still smile, people used to obsess about home pages on the Web.

Didn't you have one? Wasn't it indexable by search engines and had tags for Lynx so those command line Unix people could go "wow!" And wasn't it also HTML 2.whatever compliant and viewable by Mozilla AND Explorer?

And it usually needed to cover some important BS librarian topic, like that text based MUD you'd cooked together for live/interactive reference.

If you were ready kewl you had things like forms and a basic javascript on your page. (Remember that one which would make the lower half of a picture ripple like it was sitting on a pool of water? Yeah, I used it too.)

If you were really hip you had your own domain name.

Nowadays it's about blogs and Facebook widgets and Second Life avatars. Same ideology, different terminology.

Ryan Deschamps said...

"The 2.0 crowd is embracing the whole 2.0 concept for no other reason than things like social networking sites are popular."

A bit too reductionist there. In some cases, the L2 requests are both "no-brainer" ish and because of library culture fairly insane to implement, regardless of the popularity of social networking sites. Things like RSS feeds in the catalogue count here.

"Libraries are now requiring new applicants to be versed in Web 2.0 concepts and use them wholeheartedly for library "teaching"."

Anyone can take a poor application of a concept use it to discredit the whole. The results of L2 are mixed, of course -- but it's not as if we've moved our catalogues to flickr or anything.

"None of the 2.0 crowd seems to be considering that it maybe an interactive and editable library could be a bad idea, as in leading libraries further along the path to irrelevance."

Let me get my crystal ball. . . you are right! no wrong! both! neither! Please -- you cannot fault folks for not being able to predict the future. The main attraction of many Library 2.0 things is that they are easy to implement and not a huge loss if they don't work.

Re: losing the Library 2.0 moniker altogether.

I think the term has already plateau'd and will start to form into something else. The problem is that in the broader world, an L2 title still attracts bodies to conference presentations and workshops.

Re: Andrew Keen

I hate to say that Andrew Keen's book doesn't do much to support an anti-2.0 argument (even though I agree to a lesser extent to its premise).

Mr. Keen has pretty much shown himself to be a bit of an internet kook, and a humorless one at that. After his "even the Nazis didn't put artists out of work" line on Colbert, I don't think there are alot of people taking him very seriously.

Anonymous said...

Haven't I been here before? Oh well, here goes:

A bit too reductionist there. In some cases, the L2 requests are both "no-brainer" ish and because of library culture fairly insane to implement, regardless of the popularity of social networking sites. Things like RSS feeds in the catalogue count here.

??? I prefer abstract to reductionist anyday. I assume you mean for updates to the catalog; we used to call those the New Book List. Packing it in a new format isn't really revolutionary, and re: my previous comments probably more cumbersome than before.

Anyone can take a poor application of a concept use it to discredit the whole. The results of L2 are mixed, of course -- but it's not as if we've moved our catalogues to flickr or anything.

Flickr? Don't give them ideas....I'll just forward your comments to the last four libraries which turned me down because I didn't have a Second Life teaching programme. But wait! In L2 my opinion reigns supreme so I'll just make my own Information Island/Peninsula where I make the world as I see fit.


Let me get my crystal ball. . . you are right! no wrong! both! neither! Please -- you cannot fault folks for not being able to predict the future. The main attraction of many Library 2.0 things is that they are easy to implement and not a huge loss if they don't work.


SMACK! It's the rear view mirror I'm talking about. Libraries are continuously failing to create a new purpose or identity, and saying "It's easy to implement" doesn't quite cut it, the net basis of most L2 arguments are along the lines of "it's easy, it's quick, and *you* don't know if it'll work or not," ignoring any contrary evidence. But don't let that stop you.....

I think the term has already plateau'd and will start to form into something else. The problem is that in the broader world, an L2 title still attracts bodies to conference presentations and workshops.

Hold the phone! There really is a purpose to L2! Tenure!

Re: Andrew Keen

Actually he makes a lot of sense, Web 2.0 is where everyone is staking their little piece of the blogosphere to shout their opinion.

It really is coming down to people with bigger mouths than talent, and endless arguing about who thinks they're right, kind of like.......sudden realization.....*CLICK*

Jenny said...

Meanwhile, as folks are riding merrily along on the 2.0 bandwagon, Rome burns. I don't expect to hear much from librarians or the ALA on the Opus comic being removed from many Sunday papers this week. I'll give you one guess as to the subject matter.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Nice post AL, and very grown-up.

1) Let's have the web 2.0 functions and let's use whatever tools there are to hand but let's not get too precious about the technology.

2)User-centred services are about providing services *for* the customer, not *by* the customer, though the aim should be to empower and enable the customer, not make them a dependent. I wouldn't buy any suit that I'd made myself, no matter how good a sewing machine had been provided for me!

3) As to the question "What if your users are complete idiots?" my only problem is the rhetorical nature of the question. If your user base is at all representative of the wider community then some proportion are going to be complete idiots. Anybody who's dealt with the real public for any length of time will confirm this (the people who have backstage offices or who scuttle away when the knife fight starts in the library car park might not have the necessary experience). That doesn't mean you hate your users: you just have a realistic understanding that one-size-fits-all solutions don't apply and some of your user base just isn't going to fit the assigned role of Engaged Customer. So long as you try your best to provide the service they need, that's OK: why should they have to play if they don't want to?

Kevin Musgrove said...

P.S. Perhaps we should break the mould and start a trend of people whooping up the services we actually deliver to our customers that make a difference? Where are the people wetting themselves in print about storytimes, homebound library services and the use of non-fiction for user-driven informal learning?

Sigh... it would need a bullshit banner and my conscience wouldn't let me do that to those services.

AL said...

They'll whoop it up when you deliver storytime on Second Life and your homebound service consists of a blog.

Anonymous said...

I have found that after I started taping paper flyers for my library programs to posts near train stations, bus stops, playgounds, and parks that more people suddenly started walking into my building and coming to my programs. I have also found that speaking at community meetings and fairs, as well as handing out the aforesaid paper flyers also seems to help.

Granted that taping up flyers has been hot, time-consuming, and not as glamourous as creating an online avatar. I also run the risk of getting a really big fine from the saniation department. It is, however, the only way to reach people who have never used computers, don't own a computer, and don't easily read English.

The 2.0 fanatics seem to ignore the fact that the digital divide still exists.

-a public librarian

Edward Vielmetti said...

this "wheat paste librarian" stuff sounds interesting, but I can't dig up a reference - anyone?

Anonymous said...

I love you, AL.

Anonymous said...

Edward: Weird. Google is obviously abetting the twopointopian agenda. Two days ago a search on the term brought up the relevant link prominently, but now I'm having to dig through the results and the appropriate one isn't terribly obvious.

Look for articles by Jesse Shera in American Libraries. The ones you want are available as full text in Academic Search Premier.

Anonymous said...

Heh, interesting take on 2.0-ism. I agree we should concentrate more on the actual services and less on dogma, but I think doing that means we have to be more flexible as a profession (because the technology itself is flexible). Of course dogma isn't flexible, hence the irony of 2.0 ideologues. My view is keep core librarian values (provide access to and preserve information) but also don't be afraid to at least explore these new technologies. Don't fear or even necessarily embrace change, but do explore it. There are probably just as many 'Library 1.0' dogmatics as 2.0 ones (actually, I'd guess more just because they'v been around longer) and neither do a service to the profession.
On a personal note, why stay in a job you hate? Surely you can find something you enjoy doing that still pays the bills? Maybe still work in a library but concentrate your efforts on an area you find more enjoyable if the 'bill paying hobby' isn't an option. Just a suggestion/question of course. I just see a lot of people devoting a lot of energy to something they apparently loath and that's sad. Life is too short for that kind of misery.
And to end on an ironic note, it's truly funny that you're using 2.0 technology (computers, a blog, the Internet, etc.) to make this point. I appreciate that. ;)

Ian Thomas
UGA Science Library

Anonymous said...

AL does not appear to be a Luddite by any stretch of the imagination. What is truly ironic is that after reading the post and comments, you, Ian, come to the conclusion that anyone who is anti-twopointopia is against the use of new technologies as they become available. It is you who the post is about, but you can't see it.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me? I don't believe that I stated anywhere that I was a rabid 2.0 ideologue. Where, anonymous, did you get that from? I simply said we should avoid dogma and be flexible. I don't happen to think that those are 1.0 or 2.0 values (just common sense).

Ian Thomas
UGA-Science Library

david lee king said...

AL - you said: "but reading the barrage of 2.0 propaganda from you and others gets tiresome to a lot of people"

Uhm... so don't read it? Or write something yourself? I don't see the problem.

"You're trying to form a movement"

The people I know aren't forming a movement - they are providing explanation for what has already happened in the business and the Web world, and is spilling over into the library web world.

My graphs, for example, are simply meant to start discussion (which has been happening) and provide insight.

Obviously, whatever you want to call it - library 2.0, comments on blogs, new-fangled library tools on a computer... there are a LOT of librarians that don't understand why it's there, why they have to do it, and how their jobs are affected because of it. I can't speak for others - but I try to explain this stuff on my blog and in presentations. And you are welcome to read/listen or not.

AL said...

And I play the Devil's Advocate. You're welcome to read or not.

Jessamyn said...

The 2.0 fanatics seem to ignore the fact that the digital divide still exists.

Actually, I talk the 2.0 talk and I'm also one of the more outspoken "we need to fix the digital divide" advocates at the same time. In fact, I see the two issues as very tighly linked.

I'm not any sort of fanatic, but shifting to technological solutions to some problems that plague libraries can actually free up time and money that little libraries desperately need to survive. Not like we use Second Life, but if it helped us from having to buy expensive teleconferencing software to talk to each other in wintertime when it's too cold and dangerous to drive anywhere, I'd be all for it.

Anonymous said...

The main culprit in the Library 2.0 mindlessness is library science education--particularly distance masters degrees. What do you teach in a masters program when the students are removed from collections--web 2.0 and library 2.0.

Anonymous said...

I don't what distance ed programs you're referring to, but the one I attended taught me how NOT to use new technologies! My favorite example of this is a professor who made me drive six hours just to give me a lecture that could easily have been pre-recorded and put on Youtube, or even given via the course management software package they used. Heck, she could have even emailed us the information! It really proved to me that regardless of what 'toys' (or how much money) you have, if you don't have people that think creatively and flexibly you're still going to have a suboptimal library.

Ian Thomas
UGA-Science Library

Ryan Deschamps said...

Interesting point Anonymous @3:08AM. I didn't think of it that way, but it could be true that there is an inherent connect between library 2.0 cultism and distance education.

AL said...

I thought that interesting as well. I've never taken or taught a distance ed course, so I have no idea what gets taught in them.

Guff said...

Really people, can't we all just get along:)

Actually, I 've found that a good agrument is often just what is needed to stimulate thought. Thanks AL for for facilitating this!

Sometimes I get annoyed when people get all wrapped up in "2.0,"
and talk like it is the second coming, but shouldn't every library have a librarian with that kind of excitement for new and innovative ideas? Right now, library 2.0 (I really don't like the term, but people do know what I'm saying when I use it)is a way for libraries to add to their services with very little additional cost.

Some libraries have the resources to channel some of their resources to improve service, and new technology is a traditional way of doing this. I can't imagine that many people would argue that the automation of libraries was/is a bad thing!

Take David Lee King for example (since he's already in the discussion). He was hired at his library to help them expand their services. That doesn't mean that they have completely abandoned those "traditional" library services that are held so dear. They have just found another way to reach out to patrons. Last time I went to his library, the reference desk was still staffed, librarians were available to help in person, and there were a variety of non "2.0" activities available to patrons. Sounds like a balanced library to me!

Perhaps what we really need in every library is a balance of twopointopians and "traditional" librarians (for lack of a better term). Balance and diversity lead to growth (the last time that I checked). This is the kind of discussion that every library should be having about their services and twopointopians help to encourage this.

Anyway, just my two cents!

Anonymous said...

I'm always surprised when it sounds like new technology is completely removed from what we do, as if it belongs to a totally different world. One that may or may not be inhabited by our users.

I use technology in my daily work because I use it in general. I fail to see the difference between using hardcopy and online resources. People come to me with questions, I provide them with the best possible answers, using all of the resources that are availible to me. Older reference works may be tainted by socio-political views that are no longer valid, and wikipedia articles may have been tampered with. Those are just the conditions. That's after all one of the reasons that we are there - to help find the best possible information.

I don't use MySpace, but I've had a Livejournal account for years. I am not all that active on Facebook but my Ravelry account makes me happy. It's not separate from my real life, it's part of it.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think distance education is to 'blame' (for want of a better term) for 2.0-ism. If one were to make, and substantiate, such a claim you'd have to somehow prove that the primary proponents of this ideology either taught or received their MLIS degrees in a distance ed program. It could be done via a literature search I'd guess. The implied assertion that distance ed programs somehow provide inferior degrees needs some facts to back it up. My personal experience is that the quality of the course largely depends on the instructor, not the technology (same as with traditional education programs). In fact I had only one class which tangentially touched on anything remotely connected to 2.0-ism and that was a programming class (we learned how to use Javascript, PHP, ColdFusion, to design online forms, searchable databases, etc. and it was a load of fun).

Ian Thomas
UGA-Science Reference

Amanda (the librarian) said...

I didn't learn anything about library 2.0 while in my distance ed program (May 2006 graduate), although that's not to say that others did at their schools or are learning about it now. I do think that doing the distance program made me a little more open (at age 50) to trying out 2.0 tools. We're moving slowly at my smaller academic library with them - we have a tech task force playing with some of them that's done an internal and external blog, and a couple internal wikis, one of which is for student training that we're launching this week.

Emily Barney said...

I think Anonymous @ 3:08 may have a point about distance education, but neither the students nor the programs should be "blamed" for this sort of thing. Coming down hard on either new students or experienced librarians who don't like the techie stuff seems pretty equally petty.

I fit the Library 2.0 demographic - I'm 26, in UIUC's online MLS program, and use all kinds of Web 2.0 stuff personally every day. I also work at a library where we use blogs, a wiki, reference chat, a little flickr, etc. I can't recall any time that people used the term "Library 2.0," though. Our director says "Should we try something new? What have you heard of?" and we think through whether there's an audience and we can all learn how to do it. References to SecondLife get a general eye roll at our meetings. Our techie librarian certainly has a sense of humor and doesn't try to convert anyone to anything, but she's ready to help anyone who wants to learn more.

My experience is relatively rare, though, among the students I've encountered through the online program. Many of them have not worked in libraries and/or haven't used many Web 2.0 things until they started the online classes, or only used them a little for themselves. They're very excited to start a job where they can help people and learn so many new things all the time. They're learning all kinds of new techie things just to take the class and their fellow students are passing around lots of fun things they're playing with. Many who do work in libraries are in small ones that can really use cheap ideas and maybe they don't have the context to see whether it's worth trying for their patrons.

It doesn't help that the library profession tends to be really introspective and library professional education can be even more so. Without practical experience to offset that, it's very easy for new people who are already starry-eyed to be really idealistic and/or unrealistic.

So which is worse, to be humorlessly idealistic or snarky and stomp down someone's naive enthusiasm? A little more patience and humility (which I do think david lee king tries for) never hurt anyone.

Emily Barney said...

Yeesh, that was longer than I thought. Sorry!

Bec said...

Meredith Farkas supports you, AL

AL said...

Well, I'm not sure I'd go that far, but Meredith does seem to understand what I'm up to, as does Steven Cohen.

Sara Weissman said...

Perhaps all of us, on both sides of the L2.0 divide, should dial down a bit and learn from each other. (Having two feet, I've one planted firmly in each camp.) 2.0-crankies might be glad of the fact that there are people willing to tweak, hack and implement social software while we wait to see if patrons will care about or use it. The zest and enthusiasm new implementations of patron service can bring to a career or institution is certainly impressive. A library's demonstrated grasp of current technology increases patron respect for the place, at least here. OTOH: 2.0-zealots should understand that we can be very boring. (I've seen my colleagues eyes glaze over when I get over-the-top.) As a sometime library science prof I easily imagine myself, some years hence, telling--with a chuckle--stories of the days when we lost our minds and poured far too much professional time, though thankfully not too many dollars, into a notion called 2.0. While thrilled with our LibraryThing implementation I'm continually anchored by the fact that the ratio of our blog:e-mail events notice subscribers is 1:100. For our patrons, at least, less is more.
Perhaps we need simply to find the intersect of passion and wisdom in all this? That's probably a fine place for us and our libraries.

(the original) webdoyenne said...

Amazing...and very eloquent.

I kind of figured that the whole 2.0 deal had jumped the shark quite awhile ago, when I first began hearing about libraries needing to have MySpace pages because "that is where our users are." Yes, some of my users are there, too. But they are there looking for...each other and -- emphatically -- not the library. And don't even get me started on the whole Second Life "phenomenon" -- our computers don't have the horsepower for it and we don't have the time for it. What, exactly, would be the payoff, anyhow?

I don't get it.

I have been around this profession since you had to connect to the Internet with Dixie cups and string, and I've been playing with cutting edge technology for many moons. I have absolutely nothing to prove to absolutely anyone at this point. One thing I've learned is how to pick and choose. Another thing is...not to force things down the throats of other people just because you think they are cool and useful.

I think blogs are cool and useful. I could not do a lot of what I do on a daily basis without RSS, including some very specialized current awareness for a few people. I tried to teach some of them to use RSS themselves. They didn't want to learn. They felt like they did not have time. They were not interested in what they perceived as technology for its own sake. But they very much appreciate what I do for them. And I was sure as hell not going to argue with them. You can lead a horse to water...yada yada yada.

I continue to pick and choose. IM reference...cool and useful. Twitter...please. Minutiae on this level astouds me. Wikipedia? Exercise caution, please, but generally useful, especially for technical topics and popular culture. (Just don't go sticking it in the bibliography of your master's thesis if you don't want to see my face turn 14 different shades of red and purple.)

LinkedIn...cool to see where people I used to work with have ended up, and potentially useful. FaceBook...yeah, I'm on there, but I'm not sure it's an appropriate venue for a nice middle-aged lady librarian. Haven't derived any real benefit from it yet and not expecting to in the near future. (Unless there is a population of single men my age with lots of money on there. Maybe I should just look harder, eh?)

LibraryThing and Flickr. Love 'em both. StumbledUpon? Meh. Ning? Uh... Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

And so it goes.

I do enjoy seeing what some of us are doing with some of these new technologies. The energy and optimism make me happy...and proud to be a librarian. And I enjoy showing some of this stuff to those who are interested. I've taught 60-somethings how to make a blog and then view its feed in an RSS reader. (And I'm acutely aware of the fact that I'm a lot closer to 60-something than 20-something myself.)

That being said, I've never been a Kool Aid drinker and I'm not going to start now. A lot of this stuff is Just Going To Go Away (or be folded into other stuff); the technologies that are worthwhile will stand on their own merit and endure. And yes, there are certain "fringe-ish" things that will continue have a cult following.

What makes me uneasy is when we, as information professionals, start going at each other, hammer and tongs, over this stuff to the point where we end up pigeonholing and stereotyping one another.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. "Lighten up!"

Anonymous said...

I've just in the last week decided to apply to grad school for an MLS. Thanks for the eye-opening discussion.

Lebachai said...

This whole discussion is intriguing. I've done a fair amount of speaking around my state on both Library 2.0 and Web 2.0. I try (perhaps sometimes unsuccessfully so) to present a balanced picture; these are tools, they can do some neat things for your library, but they are, in the end, tools. I use a lot of W2 tools myself, but there are many that I think are just a waste of time. Next month I'll be co-presenting a session at our state library conference called "Look Before You Leap: Why Web 2.0 Alone Will Not Save Your Library." My co-presenter and I, both regular speakers on Web 2.0, worry that the librarians we speak to get very excited about these kinds of things and fail to distinguish what is actually useful for their particluar patrons. Anyways, discussion is good!