The Library as Community Commons

Terry Huwe, director at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE; Univ. of California, Berkeley), and columnist for Computers in Libraries, talked about the recent changes implemented at his library. Library skill can drive organizational change – and they used it to vastly increase the reach of the library staff into the lives of its users.

IRLE has fully renovated its Library. The new “Library Commons” provides an array of digital and traditional library services in a homey and inviting environment. The library has become like a comfortable, cozy living room—but one with appropriate technical options like wireless. The space has brought them opportunities to show the integrated environment they offer. It became the community builder that they had hoped it would.

The challenge today is how to mix/integrate new technologies with legacy (static) systems. Standard Web technologies can be the “glue” for most 2.0 applications.
The Library Commons is powerful – and has proven to be a popular place. It has provided pervasive technology and effective group spaces – it’s become the place to hang out.

Given the changes within the university—collapsing of traditional departments, merging of fields, collaborations across disciplines—means there are opportunities to guide them.
They have taken the lead on introducing many new technologies. They evolved from strength in Web management to blogging, Webcasting, Webconferencing, wikis, Facebook involvement, etc.

On their radar are social bookmarking, instant messaging, Facebook…but Terry said it’s important to match the right 2.0 tools to your situation.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.

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