About a hundred years ago, the public libraries in Norway experienced a shift of paradigm. From his stay in the USA Haakon Nyhus brought new methods of procuring library services, reforming the services of Oslo public library, Deichman, to meet the demands of library patrons. About a hundred years ago, the public libraries in Norway experienced a shift of paradigm. From his stay in the USA Haakon Nyhus brought new methods of procuring library services, reforming the services of Oslo public library, Deichman, to meet the demands of library patrons.
The new public library gradually became the brand of public libraries in Scandinavia. This modern library, as we still know it, could be called library 1.0. The reform of the early 20th century was based on a set of values, where the patron should have the best possible access to and the best possible benefit from library resources, all built on democratic values.
At the end of the 20th century, ‘the digital revolution’ and the Internet hit the libraries like a meteor.We saw it coming, we noticed the impact and we managed to relate to it as something that really would affect the public libraries, as well as society as a whole. We survived, and found ourselves sitting there in the crater of the impact, brushing stardust off our shoulders, shaking our heads a little, acknowledging that the world would never again be quite what it used to be. Admit it, we have been sitting there for quite a while, a little shell-shocked.
Now we are crawling up to the rim of the crater, taking a look around.What has happened to the society around us? How do we relate to these changes? Are we now living through a new shift of paradigm concerning the services public libraries are providing to patrons? A paradigm shift, as a theoretical framework, is often used for a major change in a certain thought-pattern, often a radical change, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way.
So, we are not talking about a change in content. “Content is king” still makes sense, but perhaps the major converting programs run by European Digital Libraries are not the main reason for a shift of paradigm.We know that patrons need help to find their way around the massive amounts of digital content – still, this is not new. In the encounter between libraries and the needs of their patrons, we are still dealing with the basics of librarianship.
What is new then? When Time Magazine proclaimed ‘you’ to be the person of the year in 2006, it was based on the ‘web 2.0’ concept.Web 2.0 is a trend in www-technology and web design, a second generation of web-based communities and hosted services which aims to facilitate creativity, information sharing, collaboration and user participation. Now, we are getting closer to what may be seen as a major change in the theoretical framework of public libraries. Web 2.0 transferred into the library world as library 2.0 can be seen as a loosely defined model for a modernized form of library services that reflects a transition in the way that services are delivered to users. Ultimately, the library 2.0 model for services is replacing traditional, one-directional offerings that have characterized library 1.0. Library services will be constantly updated and re-evaluated to serve the patrons best.
Library 1.0 is based on the values of democracy, and so is library 2.0. Freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental rights that individuals enjoy. Securing access to information is a basic value supporting that right. In the society of the 21st century, this freedom must also procure the citizens’ right to participate and contribute.
In another hundred years, perhaps in the context of library 3.0, we may well look back to the beginning of the 21st century and nod a little, hopefully with a little smile. Yes, the libraries did manage to get out of that meteor crater, we did get that stardust out of our eyes and we did manage to reform the public library services in accordance with the shift of paradigm that period procured. Didn’t we?
Head of department
Library and Museum Authority
Tone.moseid AT abm-utvikling.no
Translated by Eric Deverill