Guest Blog : Library 2.0 in a 1.7 World: How Does the Rubber Meet the Road at Your Library? – Adrienne Bengtson, Tempe Public Library

In this post I’m going to offer some ideas, ask some questions, and, hopefully, spark a conversation about how we actually use a dizzying array of digital resources to serve the people who use the libraries where we work.


Tech Talk is all about exploring and sharing new digital tools for application in libraries, which puts us, I suppose, right out front as regards Library 2.0.  It is easy to view Library 2.0 as all that is new and shiny, especially that ever-changing collection of web-based tools for interacting with patrons.  We are interested in digital applications that might improve service delivery in our libraries.  Also, I think it is fair to say that for most members of Tech Talk, working with digital goodies is the most fun a person could possibly have while still at work.  It is easy to forget that not everybody shares our enthusiasm.


On closer examination Library 2.0 isn’t totally about widgets, online sharing, gizmos and gaming.  At its core it is about user-centered change, according to a Library Journal article by Michael E. Casey and Laura C. Savastinuk. The article came out in 2006, which does reinforce the idea that Library 2.0 is “oh, so last year” — but the principles behind good service to our users endure.


Library 2.0, as illustrated by Casey and Savastinuk, is a model for “user-centered change. It is a model for library service that encourages constant and purposeful change, inviting user participation in the creation of both the physical and the virtual services they want, supported by consistently evaluating services. It also attempts to reach new users and better serve current ones through improved customer-driven offerings.”


User-centered change?  Invite users to help us shape library resource delivery?  Evaluate service regularly to ensure that we are delivering the right resource to the right person at the right time?  Market our resources so that our patrons will know what to expect in the first place?  This is not radical stuff.  This is simple good management.  Well-run libraries have been doing this all along.  Adding electronics is a change in the means of delivery, not a change in what we do.


I would add adherence to the library’s mission to this list of criteria.  In a well-run library, the mission statement, which (hopefully) is revisited regularly, will flow from all those other things in the previous paragraph.  It could be as simple as “bringing people and information together” or it could be part of a larger institutional purpose statement such as “To enhance the quality of life in our community by providing superior educational, recreational, cultural and social services.  We deliver customer focused and financially sustainable services to diverse populations.”


Please Share How Your Library Does It!

Here’s the part where your comments come in.  How do we actually integrate the various digital tools we have found into the mix of services that our patrons need, want and use, in the context of why our patron base supports us in the first place?  I’ve listed some of the processes below; what specific methods does your library use that might be of interest to others?  Have fun!


  • Invite Users to Help Us Shape Library Resource Delivery.
    We need to ask, and to have a system in place for evaluating and answering users’ comments.  How does your library do this?


  • Evaluate Service Regularly and Consistently.
    Do the various services work?  Are they part of an integrated system that is designed to help us fulfill our core mission, whatever that may be? Are the services being used? Are they the most effective available?  Are staff getting the training they need in order to facilitate those services?  Are services sustainable in terms of budgeting and staff?


  • Market Our Resources
    Who among our users would find value in certain services?  Who, among those in our communities who are not regular library users, might find value in certain services?  Do these people know about these services?  If they don’t know, how do we tell them?  If they do, how do we elicit their feedback?


Please pick one or more digital services that your Library offers (or is considering) and tell us how these principles play out in the real world at your library.



~ by Vinny Alascia on November 2, 2010.

2 Responses to “Guest Blog : Library 2.0 in a 1.7 World: How Does the Rubber Meet the Road at Your Library? – Adrienne Bengtson, Tempe Public Library”

  1. Author Bio:

    Adrienne Bengtson has been working in libraries since high school, when she was a page at her local public library. For the past 21 years she has worked at Tempe Public Library, in Reference, on the Library’s Web Team, and in Technical Services. Between those two public library posts she worked in corporate and academic libraries. She is also a retired A ir Force Reserve officer.

    During her career she has answered many, many reference questions, supplied Band- A ids and sympathy for cut fingers, briefed generals, fighter pilots and third graders (though not all at the same time), designed and maintained web sites, managed intelligence support for F-16 pilots deployed over Bosnia and Iraq and tactical radar support for the western half of the United States, maintained databases of several sorts, peeled bumper stickers off of urinals, taught people how to use computers, led book discussion groups, and sifted through more data than she cares to think about for information that is important to those for whom she works. She will neither confirm nor deny which thing happened at which job.

  2. In my library, we use a few digital tools as services, with the hope that they will enhance the customer experience. As for inviting users to help us shape resource delivery, we did a twitter survey to determine whether it was being used. Gasp! Is that all we’ve done? Well, no. There was a major ASU survey done back in ’07. Some of our digital initiatives grew from it. At the time, I was on the sidelines working in another part of the system. Now, I’m on the field as part of Phoenix’s new Web
    Content team. We’re about providing content in a way that gives the customer an experience. We’re developing operating guidelines, while acknowledging that they will morph as the tools morph.

    I think it’s difficult for libraries (maybe just public?) to stay apace of all the digital changes. But we’re trying! I just returned from Internet Librarian 2010 and it was heartening to hear about all of the e-branch initiatives that are taking place. Our customers are online; lets meet them.

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