What New Knowledge Will We Build Through Conversation?

The foundational readings grapple with new library service models ranging from envisioning managing electronic documents in the 1990s (Buckland, Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto), to the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies in the early 21st century (Casey and Savastinuk, Library 2.0), to the idea of the central role libraries can take as knowledge creating environments through conversation (Lankes et al, Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation). All three papers present a non-apocalyptic future for technology-changed libraries and, rather, present an engaging and progressive vision of a more service-oriented, relevant and, ultimately, human experience for library users.

Buckland addresses the management of electronic documents in the 1990s and, although a brilliant futurist, not even he could envision the shift and potential on the horizon that Casey and Savastinuk explore in Library 2.0. Discussing the participatory nature of 2.0 in the library, they break apart the top down, ‘unidirectional’ model of libraries and discuss building mechanisms in which users and staff can participate in the service creation process, through collaborative planning, evaluation and practice. Lankes et al extend upon the Library 2.0 potential and argue that libraries are knowledge generators, providing the ‘optimal information environment’ for participatory networks of conversation.

It is this last conversation that I find particularly interesting. I am entirely convinced that knowledge is created through imaginative conversation together. Right now I’m wondering what these participatory networks of conversation can look like in my library environment? [It is not as if these conversations are not already happening, but they are happening on the periphery of my work.] What will the conversations be ‘about’? And who will engage? And, importantly, what new knowledge will these networks build through conversation?

Buckland, Michael. (1992). Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto. http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Literature/Library/Redesigning/html.html

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today.

Lankes, R. D., Silverstein, J., & Nicholson, S. (January 01, 2007). Participatory Networks: The Library As Conversation. Information Technology and Libraries, 26,4, 17.