It was with great excitement that I attended The Best Practices Exchange 2007: Libraries and Archives in the Digital Era on May 2nd-4th. The conference was hosted by the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records and offered a forum for librarians, archivists, and records managers to discuss challenges and best practices when dealing with digital government information.
During the conference, I facilitated a discussion session on Web 2.0 Technologies. Specifically, I was interested in how State Archives and Libraries were using Web 2.0 to facilitate access to digital government information.
It was a very lively and dynamic discussion, and I learned quite a bit. Here is a brief overview of the talk:
Introduction to Web 2.0:
I basically gave an overview of the North Carolina Government Libraries--Web 2.0 brown bag lunches led by Michelle Czaikowsi and Beth Crist from the State Library of North Carolina. I emphasized how these brown bag lunches were based on the blog Learning 2.0: 23 Things created by Helene Blowers of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
Not surprisingly, the very first thing we discussed during this session was blogs.
The Colorado State Publications Library has a blog maintained by reference staff. Posts cover a current topic or news story and then links to relevant state publications that offer more information about this topic. I thought this was an exciting and unique way of marketing a government documents collection. You can view their blog here: http://cospl.blogspot.com/
The Government Publications Library at the University of Colorado--Boulder also maintains a blog about government information. It can be viewed here: http://cubgovpubs.blogspot.com/
Wikis were another popular topic of discussion. Some attendees were adding links to their projects/programs into Wikipedia and Library Science wikis. They felt this was another access mechanism for patrons. A few attendees expressed great concern over how quickly and easily wiki content could be changed. How do you undertake digital preservation efforts on such a dynamic document?
The user manual for Archive-IT (a service of the Internet Archive) is a wiki.
One attendee said their library had a wiki for department goals. The department heads could update these goals as needed and list how their goals were being met.
Next we discussed the ability for users to tag and create their own folksonomies in a library setting. None of the attendees worked at institutions where this is currently done. Most agreed that social tagging would work best as a supplement to traditional cataloging practices such as Library of Congress subject headings. No one believed that social tagging was a practice that should be used by itself, although an attendee wondered if social tagging would force the Library of Congress to adopt new and more flexible terminology.
The University of Pennsylvania created their own social tagging folksonomy that offers some level of control. These are called PennTags and you can read more about them here: http://tags.library.upenn.edu/
Only a handful of attendees knew what Second Life was, but many were intrigued by the concept of this virtual reality game. Others found it silly and amusing, wondering why people were hesitant to visit a library in real life yet were all-too-eager to stop by a virtual reality library.
Attendees noted that a talk by Brewster Kahle and several ALA presentations were broadcast over Second Life. Numerous virtual people were in attendence.
Social Bookmarking Sites:
I offered a brief introduction to the social bookmarking site del.icio.us. While there were several users of del.icio.us in attendance, they were all using it for their personal bookmarks rather than using it as a means of collaboration or sharing information.
Image Sharing Software:
We briefly touched on Flickr and other image sharing software.
Certain libraries/archives are posting photos from their collections on Flickr and soliciting users to help them identify the photographs' content.
If you'd like to read more about the 2007 Best Practices Exchange, visit their messageboard, and also check out the Free Government Information (FGI) blog.