Even though The Cluetrain Manifesto (Levine et al., 2001) is written for the tech world and the emerging startups in the late 1990s and early 2000s, libraries and other information institutions are equally affected by the creation and popularization of the World Wide Web. This is old news to us today and something we take for granted almost every moment of the day. However, 20 some years later we are still faced with the challenges of integrating the newest technologies and user interfaces to our own field. As soon as we think we have mastered the current shift another one is already taking its place. The rise in demand for e-Books has been replaced by the desire to incorporate our own tags and opinions to the title. No longer are users satisfied with accessing something digitally they also want to interact with the object and contribute to other’s experiences (Simon, 2010).
Interestingly, Levine et al. (2001) describe how the unfettered access to limitless information on the internet has broken down previously held hierarchies of knowledge and organizations. Many libraries now offer creative spaces or open spaces for community engagement. The Virginia Tech Libraries has embraced the collaboration between user and librarian by instituting classes on digital literacy, building exhibits with community members, and creating High-Impact Practices Librarians who are focused on partnering with students (Matthews et al., 2018). Of course, COVID 19 has accelerated the hyperlinking of information institutions and the community due to the complete shutdown of physical space. Libraries and other information institutions are generally early adopters of emerging technologies but the pandemic forced all of them to pivot or sink. Here in Denver and the surrounding counties libraries were creating programs that were digital and easily accessible. One of my favorite programs I discovered was Anythink Libraries created a chat line for patrons to call in and talk to a staff member about books or anything they wanted. The library knew their users’ demographics were elderly people who came to the library for socialization (Fallows, 2020). By creating this landline they were able to continue the community engagement which was critical for their users. This example also demonstrates the need and willingness of libraries to do something that is not a “librarian” task. As needs change and we become even more interconnected and dependent on the digital libraries will need to re-examine how they engage with their community.
Fallows, D. (2020). The post-pandemic future of libraries. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2020/05/post-pandemic-future-libraries/611458/
Levine, R., & Locke, C., & Searls, D., &, Wienberger, D. (2001). The Cluetrain Manifesto: The end of business as usual. Perseus Publishing.
Matthews, B., & Metko, S., & Tomlin, P. (2018, May 7). Empowerment, experimentation, engagement: Embracing partnership models in libraries. Educause Review. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/5/empowerment-experimentation-engagement-embracing-partnership-models-in-libraries
Simon, N. (2010). The Participatory Museum. Museum 2.0.