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L2 - Essential Conditions

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L2 - Introduction

L2 - Challenges

L2 - Essential Conditions


Before starting the discussion around the 10 conditions and whether they are necessary and sufficient for the implementation of Library 2.0, it is necessary to list the different types of libraries and the implementation of L2 in these types.


Libraries are categorized by either entity, type of documents, subject matter, users, or traditional professional divisions. For the sake of this overview, libraries are categorized by traditional professional divisions.

These are: Academic Libraries, Public Libraries, School Libraries and Special Libraries.


  • Casey, M. (2005) suggested that libraries, especially public libraries, "are at a crossroads where many of the elements of Web 2.0 have applicable value within the library community, both in technology-driven services and in non-technology based services" (p. 1).


  • However, since academic and school libraries involve students, it is seen that they should be among the early adopters of this concept. Students are the "Net natives" and they are the ones who mostly engage in web 2.0 tools. Implementing Library 2.0 in schools and universities will produce young people who will carry over their school media center experience to public and academic libraries as engaged, interactive learners for life. 


  • As for special libraries, as Abram, S. (2005) noted, the users of special libraries are easy to identify and target and are usually more tech savvy than the general population.  By introducing them to Web 2.0 technologies through Library 2.0 services, special libraries can help users employ these technologies to reach the individual goals and translate these into the goals of the company/institution.  Thus the user is better at doing his or her job, making the company able to achieve its goals, and the information center fulfills its mission. 


Therefore, the concept of Library 2.0 does not restrict itself to one library type. It reaches all types of users. The following arguments are not restricted to one type of library, rather this section compares Jacobsen's (2006) 10 conditions to conditions in the library in general as a nonprofit organization.



1 - Strategic Leadership (Essential)


Often, the library leader is the source of inspiration and guidance to the staff. The creative and risk-taking nature of the leader allows and builds for the implementation of technological innovations.

In the case of Library 2.0, the presence of a strategic library leader is crucial. The role of the leader is basically essential in fundraising, creating a free and safe environment for the staff, and reaching users.

- Funding is required to adopt Library 2.0. To attract funders, a strategic plan and long term vision that explains the advantages and the need of Library 2.0 implementation has to be prepared. Here comes the role of the library leader to create, understand, build and expand this vision in the organization. Being a non-profit organization, the library has to remain sufficiently relevant to increase the chances of funding and it is the strategic plan that will clarify the library needs.

- Library 2.0 requires an environment “where staff and public feel free (and safe) to contribute new ideas and suggestions and to play a role in their implementation and evaluation” (Casey, M. & Stephens, M., 2007, p. 1). The library leader has to build an open organization based on the power of communication. He/she should spread the culture of online transparency and openness and honesty where feedback and input is invited from both staff and users.

- Library 2.0 is also about reaching the users and the community needs. It is the role of the library leader to do this initiative and discover what the library can offer for people and match it with L2 features (in blogs and online social networks).

In Summary, for Library 2.0 to succeed, there is needed presence of an open leader who


  1. understands and supports the library's mission and service priorities.
  2. communicates effectively with colleagues, and/or subordinates.
  3. is flexible and adapts easily to change.
  4. is able to set priorities and understand the difference between important and urgent.
  5. is willing to take risks and deal with the consequences.
  6. continues to grow and learn. 

2 - A learning, risk-taking culture among staff (Essential)



By nature, non-profit organizations are risk takers. They deal with limited budgets and rely on funders

and sometimes have risky places.

So is the library. To adopt library 2.0, major risky changes should be undertaken. Losing the “culture of perfect” does give libraries more scope to try newer things sooner.


Some risk-taking steps should be taken: 

  -Do not overthink security risks.

  -Change the power balance between librarians and users.

  -Take initiatives and innovating.

  -Get out from behind the reference desk.

  -Utilize tools released in beta that have more features, with not every feature perfect. If a tool is imperfect, but does a few things really well, users are far more forgiving than they would have been five years ago (Greenhills, 2007).


Today's successful organizations are measured, in part, by their openness to adapt to changing needs. This adaptation requires a culture of risk-taking and innovation. 

3 - A mentor or expert each staff can learn and gain support from (Not Essential)
Having a mentor for each staff is not an essential condition to adopt the change, rather it could start from an initiative from the director and diffuse among the staff. Given the fact that administrators and leaders expect from staff to adopt Library 2.0, they are the ones who should set the example. They should support their staff for learning the new approach. The change is about developing a vision for making the library a place that meets today's users' needs. The library culture should be transformed to one that encourages learning and staff interaction and support and this does not necessarily mean mentorship, but rather interaction and support is sufficient. 

4 - Technology consistently available anywhere and anytime (Essential)
  • Library 2.0 requires technology agility
    While L2 is not all about technology, but technology is at the heart of L2. It is a major component in implementing the L2 concept. "Hard budgetary decisions are going to have to be made: buy X books or do Y with technology Z?" (Blyberg, J., 2006, p. 3).


  • To be able to implement Library 2.0 ideas, library staff need to test and experiment new things. Restrictive IT policies prevent them from doing so and create an atmosphere of mistrust. "Restrictive IT policies often perpetuate the idea that technology is exclusively the domain of Systems" (Coombs, K., 2007, p. 1).





5 - Time to use, discuss and process the learning (Essential)


Administrators should not expect from all the staff to have commitment on time, commitment to use off-time hours to learn the technology.

Time should be provided for learning, training and sharing of knowledge. Expecting new skills from the librarians, implies providing training and support for them. Unfunded and unsupported mandates are not a good policy to make staff learn on their own. Instead, providing time, tutorials along with training and support is a good strategy.  Library 2.0 facilitates and encourages a culture of participation relying heavily on the innovations and contributions of the library staff and the community. Providing the time to discuss new ideas is essential to implement and adapt to changes.

6 - Community and family support (Essential)


By implementing Library 2.0, libraries are providing digital advanced services for the communities. Library 2.0 provides interactive and collaborative services driven by communities' needs. The adoption of Web 2.0 tools should start by an internal belief among librarians that this shift will empower them and empower library users.

From this perspective, community support is essential to initiate the concept of L2. L2 starts from inside the library and reaches out to the community.

Having a supportive community that is open to adopt and engage in new technologies is essential to ensure the sustainability of the adoption.

In short terms, Library 2.0 is all about interaction between users and librarians and therefore the active participation of the communities and individuals is necessary.



7 - Funder support (Essential)


“Funding issues are also part of the whole L2 equation—every library has a different starting point, and every library has different capabilities when finances are considered. Being able to effectively use your limited resources is critical to Library 2.0" (Stephens & Casey, 2005, p.1). 


  • Reliable and sustainable funding is essential to every nonprofit organization and so it is for libraries.


  • Research shows that libraries get more than half of their technology equipment and tools from local taxes. But they also rely heavily on fundraising and grants (10.8%) (Challenges for the Future and A Call to Action, 2007).The funders like to see where their money is being used and if it is adding to the organization’s effectiveness. One way to encourage them support libraries, is to provide them with a strategic technology plan that shows the outcomes that IT initiatives are going to produce.


  • Moreover, libraries should think about finding a way to become self-funded. How? This can be done through establishing partner relationships. Libraries need to look at other businesses that can generate funding for them. Coffee bars such as Starbucks, Print and Copy corners like Kinko's, book sales such as Chapters and office supplies such as staples are some businesses with which libraries can partner and create a kind of self-funding framework. This kind of partnership can ensure that funding is sustained through self profit generation.

8 - On-site capacity and leadership (Not Essential)


Funding is very limited in libraries and it is usually not allocated for IT departments. For the majority of libraries, it is not affordable to employ an in-house technical and support department. Other more cost efficient alternatives are available. Libraries have the option to employ consultants upon need or on a yearly basis with a fixed cost to undergo the maintenance and support needed.

Other alternatives that are very common nowadays are the facilitation by intermediaries. There is an increasing number of non-profit technology facilitators that help other nonprofits in implementing and maintaining new technologies.

Also, outsourcing is an affordable approach that can save libraries the burden of investing in a technical support team.





9 - Interest in innovation spreads as new people understand technology's benefits - Team Centered (Essential)


Studies have shown that peer coaching and study groups which provide opportunities for ongoing discussion and reflection may have more influence on changing professional practices than other professional development strategies.


Joyce and Showers (2002) studied four types of teaching professional development to determine the effectiveness of each on concept understanding, skill attainment, and then applying what was learnt in the PD in applications. The study was focused on teachers and the applications in the classroom but it is seen that these results can be applied to all types of professional development. The results of their study are summarized in this table:



external image joyce.jpg


Encouraging a community of learning is the key to the diffusion of the technology.

"Promoting community approaches could imply that there is no role for individual effort or learning. As Peter Senge put it, There is commonality of purpose, a shared vision, and understanding of how to complement one another’s efforts… Alignment is the necessary condition before empowering the individual will empower the whole team" (Bickford & Wright, 2006, p. 57)


When a community of learning is fostered, then staff will be interested in teaching each other. Library 2.0 is challenging, interesting and fun to implement. The spread of the innovation inside the library will practically emerge because of the engagement of staff in Web 2.0 tools. Social networking and collaboration are concepts that encourage the diffusion of learning and engagement of users, therefore implementing these tools in a library is "self-diffusing".


10 -Technology proves itself as superior to the previous ways of doing things (Essential)




Is Library 2.0 evolutionary or revolutionary; a fad or a long-lasting change; about technology or about service; needed when patrons are involved in helping libraries move into the digital age and provide these information and  entertainment resources, then it will be hard and merely impossible to go back to the old age, or not needed?


As Stephanie Iser (2006) states: "I see the library’s involvement with web 2.0 technologies as a type of niche marketing that will develop, as time goes on, into needs-based services as more and more people become digital citizens and technology gets cheaper for the underserved to use" (Iser, 2006, p.1). 


One of the ways that libraries can encourage the adoption of Web 2.0 is to establish digital communities where patrons can get involved with the library web site. Blogs, wikis, flickrs , podcasts , and vodcasts are just some of the web 2.0 technologies that libraries might use to involve patrons with the library web site. 

Once staff and patrons are involved in the content creation and update of the library resources, it is hard to go back to the old traditional way of doing things.

11 - Reallocation of resources (Essential) 


Library 2.0 requires reallocation of resources and shifting focus from one department to another inside the library. Also, the mission of a particular department might have to be restated. In the old age, the substantial department that represented the public face of libraries was the reference desk. L2 requires a shift of attention from this department to the IT department for example. Previously IT departments in libraries, if they existed, consisted of support guys, not more. With this technological implementation, they should be perceived as part of the decision making process (Blyberg, 2006).This might need shifting of funded money around a budget. Libraries would have to cut funding in some areas and use it in other areas.

When the right people are hired, committed people who have the will to contribute to improvements in the library, then redistribution of responsibilites should easy to implement.


12 - Commitment and Culture of discipline (Essential) 


"Commitment to improve, commitment to assess, commitment to integrate, commitment to communicate" are at the heart of Library 2.0 success. If librarians have the passion and will to improve the library, they will undergo any necessary changes that will lead to the improvement, even if these changes mean that they should step out of their comfort zone. Having the right disciplined and committed people on the bus make it much easier to achieve the mission.

Technology is a challenge for the non-experts and undergoing such a challenge requires passion and positive attitude towards the organizational goal.




13 - Culture of Trust





  • “Trust brings groups together, allowing them to work beyond their differences. It allows people to be themselves and use their uniquenesses to their advantage instead of forcing conformity among the group" (Wathen, 2006, p. 1).


  • So for libraries to become team-centered, they must establish trust relationships between staff themselves, between staff and users and between libraries and funders. L2 is about collaboration and knowledge sharing and these missions cannot be accomplished without a culture of trust that could be the key to create team relationships that can stand up the task. Forbidding staff members to blog, for example, because administrators can't control what they say or might say is not trust.


  • Libraries should communicate the mission, vision, and purpose of the library through well-planned, solid staff development and then trust the staff to go forth and blog, build wikis, and/or interact with library users (Stephens, 2006).
  • In the old age, libraries would be imprisoned by the library’s public image and rarely have the chance to speak up and collaborate (Greenhill, 2007). With L2, librarians can use their own informal voice to communicate with users. This can be achieved with blogs, wikis and other tools. Librarians can collaborate easily with users and use the different services to chat with other librarians overseas and create communities of practice.




  • Users should be able to control parts of the library that they previously could not.
  • "With the technology to add comments, ratings and reviews to items in catalogues, users can “author” the catalogue and other library resources alongside librarians" (Greenhill, 2007, p.1) 
  • Users often choose the most convenient way to access information sources and not the quality of sources available in libraries. Today, users have many alternatives to library to access information (ex: Google). So the challenge is to use new web tools to increase the convenience of access to library resources. 


Library buildings



  • With L2, libraries are not anymore restricted to their physical building and book shelves. Instead, libraries have the opportunity to expand in virtual spaces and social networks. As for the real physical space, libraries would have to be more open in using this space as the needs of the user require. Some policies that prevent users from oral discussions and chats might have to be cancelled. Libraries with L2 will be perceived as places to create communities of learning rather than a book stock (Greenhill, 2007). 


So, basically, the challenge in creating a culture of trust in libraries, is to find a balance between personalization and privacy.








14 - Facilitation by intermediaries (Essential) 


Most nonprofits will seek help at some point with their technology planning process. To implement Library 2.0, it is essential to have such options. 


Technical Assistance Providers

There is a big number of technical assistance provider organizations that are specialist in assisting other nonprofits in technology planning, website development and other technical related assistance.



A technology planning consultant should be someone not only with planning experience and technological expertise, but an ability to think in nonprofit terms.


Community foundations:

Many of them realize that the impact of the nonprofits they support depends on an effective use of technology.



Other libraries who have done technology planning may be able to tell which consultants are good and how to get the most out of working with them.


Nonprofit management centers

These are often good sources of help or referrals, and there are thousands of them.


Volunteers, Interns and Friends

In some cases, people who are affiliated with the library but are not staff members may be able to help. Board members, volunteers or interns, if properly qualified and committed, can complete parts of the process.





Summary of conditions



= Essential   = Not Essential


The 10 conditions for technology adoption and sustainability of Library 2.0


Not Essential

1. Strategic Leadership


2. Learning Risk-taking culture


3. Mentoring


4. Reliable Technology


5. Time for review/sharing


6. Community support


7. Funder support


8. On-site capacity


9. Diffusion of interest


10. Technology proves itself as superior (Resistance is futile)


11. Culture of Trust


12. Flexibility in reallocating resources


13. Commitment and Culture of Discipline


14. Facilitation by Intermediaries



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