Perceptions of the Library in Web 2.0

P. Miller (via S. Downes) says.

“With the rise of Google, Amazon, Wikipedia and more, there is an oft-stated fear that many users, much of the time, will bypass processes and institutions that they perceive to be slow, unresponsive, unappealing and irrelevant …””Libraries should be seizing every opportunity to challenge these perceptions, and to push their genuinely valuable content, services and expertise …”

Slow, this might at least be true if the creation of new classification rules and subject terms for emerging new fields of research, is compared to the corresponding tags sprouting from the read/write web user contributions. Expertise, OTOH, is certainly needed to try and integrate all these tangled tags into a “neat” overview for orientation, as I still like it, I confess, since the old Virtual Library days (see my #62).

Why not combine the two, or, “Web 2.0 + Library = Library 2.0?”, as P. Miller asked? For settled, older knowledge, the classification term expertise of the “slow” institution is just fine. For emerging new knowledge, however, the tags of the prolific user community are faster, and could serve as input for the institutions that have to generate new classes, delimitations, or cross-references for their hierarchical catalogs.

But how can the human librarian’s work be integrated with the automated tag aggregators? No problem: enter the Mechanical Turk, who appears to be a machine but is in fact human.

So, I have still hope that some day all of Technorati’s or even Delicious’ tags are neatly assigned to Dewey Decimal numbers to let me browse them, including, of course, manually crafted cross-references if the subordination is not straightforward. Dreaming of Library 2.9 …

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