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South Africa SLIS Follow-Up 1: Michael Stephens’ “Web 2.0 and Libraries”

LTR.42.4.Web.2.0.Libs.jpg I have several more goodies to follow up my talk in South Africa–two PowerPoints, and a long post with tips for activities–but the most important tip I have is to buy this report.

I am generally disposed to give friends’ books good reviews (and let’s not pretend that doesn’t happen), but in this case, Michael Stephens could be my mortal enemy and I would push you to buy “Web 2.0 and Libraries.” I read it on the plane to South Africa, and even before I was finished, I popped open my laptop to enrich my presentation with really great examples of libraries using social software.

The writing is clear and enjoyable–try saying that about most industry-specific titles–and the report is thick with citations and screen captures. The topics covered include a broad overview of Web/Library 2.0, blogging, Flickr, IM, Wikis, and a chapter called “Putting Your Library ‘Out There'” that is really a useful how-to for staff buy-in. The table of contents is precise enough to serve as an index (where I usually want an index, anyway–at the FRONT of the book), and the report is slender enough to put in the hands of a library administrator or higher-up knowing that he or she will not go into MEGO (Mine Eyes Glaze Over).

The reading list at the end is extensive and again a great pleasure, and because ALA TechSource does a great job of hustling titles into print, the report feels fresh. Michael’s emphasis on thinking through why you are providing a service is commendable.

The only quibbles I have with “Web 2.0 and Libraries” are first, that open source software is repeatedly called “free” (it is “free” as in “free kittens,” not “free beer”–you still have to maintain it, and that’s where the overhead with software comes in) and that the very good final chapter about staff buy-in never really gets into marketing social software to the public. But that topic would make another wonderful addition to the Library Technology Reports canon, and in any event this report will push you from rumination to action.

(Full disclosure: I show up a couple of times, which startled and amused me, as I had long forgotten giving Michael permission to use anything I had done.)

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