Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The 1.0 Problem

Library 1.0 & Librarian 1.0: are these terms positive, negative, or a combination of both?

Some of the discussions on Library 2.0 mention Library 1.0 & Librarian 1.0 and I thought about definitions for these terms, since so many Library 2.0-related terms are blurry and need defining. I think a distinction needs to be made between four terms in particular: Library 1.0, Library 2.0, Librarian 1.0, and Librarian 2.0.

Librarian 1.0 I think is currently used as a derogatory slang term for a particular type of librarian. At first I thought it could be defined as simply "any lousy librarian," but I now think it has specific negative traits that define a specific kind of (bad) librarian.
Traits of Librarian 1.0:

1. Fear and/or indifference toward technology; well behind the tech curve
2. Not user-friendly
3. Reluctant to change; a roadblock to new initiatives
4. Poor interpersonal communication skills
5. Withdrawn from the library community
6. Oblivious to current trends in libraries

There is no specific time-frame for the existence of a Librarian 1.0. No doubt such people have always been around. A Librarian 1.0 is characterized by a state of mind that is incompatible with quality librarianship. My speculation is that many Librarian 1.0 types are "reluctant librarians," (different from "accidental librarians") meaning that they originally desired some other career path, failed, and migrated to library work because of the relative ease of entry vis-a-vis other professions, and--here's the kicker--still have not psychologically embraced librarianship and never will.

I sense an undercurrent of anger and dissatisfaction with Librarian 1.0 types on the blogs of L2 people. This is mostly deserved, as I don't question that there are librarians in most libraries who share many of the same negative traits and who act as roadblocks to the librarians who want to try new things and effect positive change for users. In the future we may see a more clear demarcation between types of librarians and more obvious divisions between camps.

An alternate definition, which I don't see much, is a more positive one in which this type of librarian existed in a specific time period prior to the mass introduction of personal computers into libraries and homes, but also a person who provided quality service, etc. But I don't see this reading often and the negative definition seems just about universal.

Defining Library 1.0

Library 1.0 is a term I find more difficult to pin down, because I suspect there are two competing camps with two ways of looking at it: one positive and one negative. Library 1.0, I take it, is considered a derogatory term by many in the L2 vanguard and is somewhat similar to my reading of Librarian 1.0; in other words, a library that is dominated by the outdated policies and practices of Librarian 1.0s.

But I see a much more positive side to this term, as part of it includes traditional library services--the library as it was before the personal computer became an integral part of it, with an overwhelming emphasis on print resources, but still including quality customer service, changing practices when needed, a steady progression in the improvement of library services, and so on. I don't see anything bad about that. I see Library 1.0 as containing the building blocks of Library 2.0 and as something that should be embraced by the Library 2.0 community. A Librarian 1.0 is bad; a Library 1.0 isn't.

I think the L2 leaders see Library 1.0 and Library 2.0 (and Librarian 1.0 & Librarian 2.0) as essentially opposites, while others see Library 2.0 as a progression from Library 1.0 with no significant internal conflict between the two. The question would then be where does Library 1.0 end and where does 2.0 begin. I think in any case Library 2.0 began long before the term was coined and before anyone mentioned it publicly. The entity existed, but hadn't yet been recognized.

Librarian 2.0

A Librarian 2.0 is the flip side of Librarian 1.0. It is someone who:

1. Seeks out new technology of possible interest to his patrons & library
2. Is engaged in the library profession
3. User-focused
4. Eager to change outdated practices & procedures
5. Seeks greater efficiency

Like Librarian 1.0, this definition could apply to a librarian who exists or existed at any time in history. A Librarian 2.0 is considered a good librarian; a Librarian 1.0 is a bad one.

But there are two ways of looking at these terms and a possible negative definition of Librarian 2.0 that could develop is a librarian who wants change for change's sake, hypes things beyond what they are, a critic of traditional library service, etc.

As others have pointed out, it's tough to agree on definitions of 2.0 terms without knowing what the 1.0 words mean. Defining Library 2.0 in any meaningful way is fraught with problems, but that's for another post.

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