Use of Web 2.0 and its implications for libraries: perceptions of information professionals in Pakistan.

Author:Ata-ur-Rehman
Position:Report

Introduction

The history of Internet is not too long and almost all historians are agreed on the fact that the history of Internet starts from ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency NETwork), very first shape of Internet that was developed by DARPANET (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Until 1992, the Internet was available at educational and government institutions. In 1992 the commercial companies started taking up the control of developing this wonderful phenomena. Invention of Internet was a paradigm shift in the history of networks and network communication.

In the beginning, static web pages were being created for one way of communication and these pages were read-only for visitors. Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) was being used widely for web-publishing. This initial form of web was named Web 1.0 later. The term Web 2.0 was being popularized in 2004. Initially this term was used by Darcy DiNucci in 1999. Web 2.0 can be defined in terms of its features and specific technologies, or social impact. In other words, World Wide Web (www) provided the base for Web 2.0 applications to create a new communication environment (Linh, 2008). It is a second wave that covers web tools and services (Macaskill and Owen, 2006). Davis (2005) describes Web 2.0 as an attitude not a technology and Birdsall (2007) believes that Web 2.0 is a social movement. So Web 2.0 applications differ from Web 1.0 applications by their frequency of usage too. As Web 2.0 applications are socially rich and community building is the core of these applications, so their usage increases many times than Web 1.0 static websites/applications.

Boateng, Mbtika & Thomas (2010) defines Web 2.0 as a set of trends and tools for using the internet. He further explains that these socio-technological innovations have enabled interactivity and gathering of knowledge through experience and practice on a global scale. The concept of collaborative work, social networking and the ease in the usage of these applications has brought a significant change in the Internet usage style of Internet surfers in the world. The popularity of social networking applications, blogs and sharing of media has also changed the way and behavior of users of libraries all over the world. The concept of Web 2.0 has emerged into other disciplines and changed the entire mode of practices in library science as well and a new concept of Library 2.0 has been introduced.

Library 2.0 is the application of interactive, collaborative, and multi-media web-based technologies to web-based library services and collection (Maness, 2006). The real advantage of Library 2.0 can be achieved only by adding advanced functionality and features directly into the content (Abram, 2005). Aharony (2008) has emphasized that the library schools must come up with upgraded curriculum by introducing Web 2.0 course. According to him, Web 2.0 applications may be thoroughly taught as a separate course in the LIS curriculum. It will equip the library professionals with skills and competencies that are necessary to design dynamic and modern user oriented services.

A brief description of few Web 2.0 applications is below:

Blog (Web Log) is a major application of Web 2.0 era. The blogs are new forms of publication (Maness, 2006). Blogging is an easy process of publishing the ideas on the web and to get the comments from other users of web. This is a one-click process of publishing posts. Blogs are a relatively recent Internet phenomenon dating from the late 1990s (Clyde, 2004). Hane (2001) says that Blogs are a natural for librarians. Libraries all over the world are using blogs for the easy dissemination of information to the targeted users. Blogs are the fastest growing medium of information over World Wide Web. Most of the time, blogs are created as single-person effort but some blogs are created and published as cooperative or group projects (Clyde, 2004). Most of libraries are maintaining their blogs by collaborative efforts.

RSS is another Web 2.0 application which helps users to bring the updates and feeds from other websites. It is a very simple tool to bring the latest stories, updates from news groups, magazines, journals and blogs. In a recent study of Australian University Libraries, RSS was found the most widely applied technology (Linh, 2008). It creates a feed from a site that readers can then add into an aggregator to create one point of access for many sources (Davison-Turley, 2005).

Instant Messaging (IM) is also a very useful tool which may help library professionals to provide library services. Maness (2006) claimed that Instant Messaging was initially Web 1.0 application because it often requires the downloading of software but now a day IM can be categorized in Web 2.0 applications because IM is available through browsers from most of service providers (AOL, Meebo, MSN, Google Talk, etc). IM is vastly being used for online reference services in libraries. Ask a librarian service is provided by instant messengers all over the world. A study of top 100 university libraries shows that IM features have extensively been used in libraries to provide quick online reference services using IM technology (Harinarayana, 2010).

Currie (2010) states that libraries can provide online reference services by employing staff at public desks during nights and weekends when the library is closed for other services.

Wikis areanother example of collaborative creative work. Multiple users from all over the world can build a knowledge base by using this application. Wikipedia is a great example of this kind of collaborative work. A library wiki as a service can enable social interaction among librarians and patrons, essentially moving the study group room online (Maness, 2006). Wikis can be used to create help files, tutorials with the help of users in libraries. Wikis are the mix of many other...

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