By Meredith Farkas | December 10, 2005
I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about Library 2.0 that I’m not comfortable with. And again, it was thinking back to my former career that gave me my lightbulb moment. In my second job as a therapist, I was part of a large-scale grant-funded program which required that we provide therapy based on a particular model. This model was one I was quite fond of and believed would help people to focus on solutions rather than problems, which is important when you only have 10 sessions to work with a family. However, I do not subscribe to the one-size-fits-all approach. Like I said last week, you have to start from where the client is, rather than trying to make your clients fit into a particular model. What works for one person may not work for another, even if s/he is in a similar life situation. Prior to this, I had always taken an eclectic approach to therapy, borrowing from a variety of models to do what worked in that situation. For this job, there was a very specific roadmap I had to follow; a roadmap that didn’t work for all of my clients.
I know Library 2.0 isn’t a strict doctrine, but I’m still uncomfortable with doctrines in general. Libraries around the world are in such different places — in terms of technology, their population, and the needs of their population. There are libraries out there that still don’t even have an ILS. What does social software and the usability of library middlware mean to a library with a card catalog and no Web site? To them, improving services may mean building a Spanish-lanaguage collection to meet the needs of a growing immigrant population. Or it may mean raising money for a bookmobile. What if they’re in a rural area with a largely elderly population. Do those patrons want the same things that patrons at the Chicago Public Library want? Do we really need a Library 2.0 or do we just need to make our libraries as usable as possible and meet the needs of our service population?
Also, I’m still having trouble understanding exactly what library 2.0 looks like and how we reach library 2.0. The best descriptions of library 2.0 that I’ve seen have come from Paul Miller & Ken Chad (pdf) and Michael Stephens. It’s important to have a clear vision for what a 2.0 library looks like and what concrete steps need to be taken to get there. It shouldn’t just be about technology either.
When people decide to go to therapy, they often come in with unrealistic expectations. Many of them have spent months or years struggling with their problems before finally deciding that they need help. Deciding one has a problem that requires intervention is a huge step, but it’s not the last one. People often think that their therapist can “fix” them, though they rarely have a clear conception of what “fixed” means. (A colleague of mine kept a magic wand in her office because so many parents send their kids to therapists wanting the therapist to “fix my kid”). Therapists don’t fix people, they only help people to work out their own problems. The first thing I would do with all of my clients is to ask them to answer the miracle question. This is a key part of the assessment process in solution-focused therapy, a therapeutic model I was particularly fond of. The miracle question goes like this:
Imagine that after this appointment you went home, did all your regular evening activities and went to bed. While you were sleeping, a miracle occurred and the problems that brought you here had disappeared. But you don’t know this because you’re sleeping. When you wake up the next morning, how will you know that a miracle has occurred? What will be different?
This is a difficult question for most people starting therapy. They’re so used to looking at their problems that it never occurred to them to imagine their life without those problems. The client’s vision of what a problem-free life would look like becomes our goal for therapy. Together we can then determine the steps that need to be taken to reach that goal. Breaking things down into smaller, concrete, manageable steps makes a big problem seem much easier to tackle.
Maybe it would make sense to ask the miracle question in our libraries. If a miracle occured one night and all of the problems with your library were gone (or we miraculously reached library 2.0 overnight), how would you know that a miracle had occurred? What would be different? What would the library be like? Once you have that vision for what your library/Library 2.0 should look like, what specific steps do you and your colleagues need to take to get there (how do you get to 1.3, 1.6, etc.)? Once you have your answer to those questions, you should have a clear roadmap for reaching your goal. And it’s a roadmap written specifically for your library.