Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service

Philip G. Kent (Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 30 May 2008




Kent, P.G. (2008), "Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service", Library Management, Vol. 29 No. 4/5, pp. 447-448.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

According to Wikipedia:

Library 2.0 is a loosely defined model for a modernized form of library service that reflects a transition within the library world in the way that services are delivered to users.

The term Library 2.0 was coined by Michael Casey in August 2005. It was derived from the term Web 2.0 which has now of course become ubiquitous and translated into a number of different contexts (e.g. Business 2.0).

To read the book by the founder of the term and his colleague Laura Savastinuk has much promise. According to the introduction, the book is aimed at helping librarians, administrators, support staff and students to gain a greater understanding of what Library 2.0 is. For me this was achieved.

I initially expected that the book would focus mostly on Web 2.0 technologies in the Library context, however this was not the case. Technology underpins many issues dealt with in the book but it is kept in its place! The book is really about our changing Library client base and how services can be developed to meet their evolving needs. According to the authors “the changes libraries need to make to keep up with their users involves much more than technology.”

In addition the book is largely around facilitating user centered services that empower the client rather than remain as passive recipients. This is reflected in the subtitle: “a guide to participatory library service.” The book has a strong client focus and includes tips for knowing your users and involving them in the planning for and delivery of services.

The book is also largely about change with two of the nine chapters devoted to a framework for change and the important aspect of buy‐in. Library staff involvement is highlighted. According to the authors: it is imperative that staff are given the freedom to be candid, yet professional, when sharing ideas and providing feedback.

I was concerned that the book might have too great on emphasis on public library practice. However this did not distract from the message and was an interesting diversion for this academic library director!

Getting back to the technology, one chapter was devoted to blogs, wikis, podcasting and social networking with lots of examples, sidebars and interviews of interest. One of the best features of the book is the associated web site ( It is a great source of supplementary information and links to a vast anthology of relevant sites. It saves having to type lengthy URLs and provides a one‐stop shop for anyone who wants to delve into a large array of sites. There are links to libraries that have made strides toward Library 2.0. Readers might also be interested to see the pioneering work of our local Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service.

One final positive for the time poor reader! Although it has a raft of appendices and supporting material, the book is only 137 pages and is a quick read with short chapters suitable for quick dips when time is available.

The authors and publishers are to be congratulated for a useful little volume, which is in itself a gateway to a constantly changing area that offers many new opportunities.

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