Saturday, 6 January 2018

Web 2.0 for Libraries and Information Centres: What, Why and How?

Article by : Mr. Atanu Ganguly, Assistant Librarian, Calcutta Business School

What is it?

Web 2.0 is very commonly described as sites which are using participatory and collaborative technologies. The term Web 2.0 was coined by technology commentator Tim O’Reilly who tried to define it as follow: “Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually- updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an architecture of participation and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences”. (Source:

The analysis of the above definition gives the following main points:
1. Strategic positioning: The web as a platform
2. User positioning: You control your own data
3. Democracy of expression: Less techno-savvy users can express their talent and work.
4. Core competencies: Software upgrades happens without knowledge of users, architecture of participation/sharing, remixability of data source and data transformations and compatible to use in computer as well as other modern devices like iPods, PDAs, cell phone etc.

The characteristics are as follows:

· Software is hosted online and is provided as a service
· People participates in social communities, creating rich environment
· The masses determine what is valuable
· Authentic content created by the user community is what has value
· Simple, lightweight applications with low learning curve
· The perpetual beta, software as a service
· Applications for Web, desktop, gadgets, mobile device iPods etc
· Control relinquished in favour of distribution and sharing
· Application functionability and data is stored
· Web sites include AJAX, mapping, WYSWING editors, drag-and-drop functionality etc.
· Groups, collaborations and mingling.

Why it is used?
The world of knowledge is vast and people residing in each and every corner have diversity in culture, social status, education and economical background. With the development of Web 2.0 they have found a place where they can interact, participate and share their common area of interest. It’s like a professional and amateur co-existing in a same platform. To make it clear “why it is used” we can make a simple distinction of the scenario of when Web 2.0 was not there and when Web 2.0 has captured the empty place through the Seven Principles of Tim O’Reilly as beautifully given in the figure below:


The benefits for libraries are as follows:

1. This application helps libraries to build their web tools like blogs, knowledge repository, podcasts, and custom search engines without computer programming skills.

2. It helps the libraries to get connected with the users through comments, ratings and reviews in blogs and wikis.

3. It makes the libraries to participate in knowledge communities, social networking and virtual communities

4. The tools assist libraries to work in partnership with team members from distant libraries or staff located at different areas.

How it is used?

The Web 2.0 has become popular and we have seen it has revolutionized the user participation. It has made the non-technical person also contributing regardless of their background or position. The most common Web 2.0 tools which has put our self in an age of participation are as follows:

Ø Blogs- It is also know as web blog actually is online journal on web site where articles are been posted in a chronological manner. Libraries use this to promote the services, events happening and latest acquisition of books and other resources, database information etc. They can also give case studies on various issues related to library functions and even demonstrate some innovative ideas practiced or may be implemented for betterment.

Ø Wikis- It is a collaborative space created online where many users can work on a shared project. It is a social publishing which removes barriers like time, place and technical knowledge. Libraries itself is a storage of knowledge in a organized and ready for disseminated form. With this technology librarians can capture and provides information for their patrons.

Ø RSS- Really Simple Syndication is a method of technology which enables the publishers distributes news and other contents on the Web. It is directly deliver to the user. Libraries provides their patrons with library news, events, updates related to special interest like new book release, database subscription, journal & magazine alerts, due date of return of library items, movies reviews, music album launch, etc.

Ø Photo sharing- Online photo sharing through sites like Flickr, PhotoBucket, Webshots etc. are becoming popular as users can rate them, review them and share them making a huge collection of personal, cultural and historical digital photo collection on the web. Libraries in the present digitised environment can share images of new book cover, library events, guided tour, photos of library staff and even innovative works which can serve as a useful marketing effort.

Ø Podcasting- It is series of audio recording or episodes which can be access through subscription mode. It helps people to get automatic updates via RSS feed. It may contains images, video or text files. Libraries are creating, using and subscribing to various podcasts on subjects according to user recommendations. It has been utilised as a learning opportunities for professional development.

Ø Mashups- It is hybrid web application that combines distinct set of data and their function ability from a separate source to create something new in form. It is free-for-alls which gives diverse information and serve as a guide. Libraries have started to explore there are endless possibilities like locating information for the users.

Ø Social Cataloguing- Cataloguing are not now only done by trained professional social cataloguing websites now help users to create personal catalogues of their book, CD, DVD, game collection etc. and share them. The largest of the social cataloguing web sites is “LibraryThing”. Others in this line are “Shefari”, “Listal” and “Gurulib”. Libraries are using this as a tool for cataloguing new titles which help them to reach the numerous people in the community. It helps to establish an authentic source of information through web portals of library and full OPAC systems.

Ø Video sharing- Through various web sites like YouTube, Metacafe and Revver online video sharing has been popularised as it is free of charge and user friendly. Libraries are using these to promote their programs and services like guiding library collection, user awareness, library guide tour, to make visibility felt among the community.

Ø Social Bookmarks- Social booking focus on managing and sharing information. It enables user to retrieve their searches in future in an online space. It has great advantage as they are not stored locally in user’s desktop but rather accessible from any online devices. Libraries using social bookmarks help the users to get reader’s advisory sources, web resources list and subject guides. 

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