Social Networking Tools Part 2: The Library 2.0 Network, and NING

Library 2.0:  http://library20.ning.com/

The Library 2.0 network (“Library 2.0”) was started in 2007 by Bill Drew, a Systems Librarian at Tomkins-Cortland Community College.  This tool was created to allow librarians with an interest in Web 2.0 tools and their relationship to libraries to have a space to bring up topics of interest and to share information.  Library 2.0 was created this year, and already has attracted 2,149 members worldwide.  Library 2.0 simply states: “This network is for librarians and others interested in Library 2.0.” 

Library 2.0 is a great example of a middle-of-the-road kind of tool.  If you consider Facebook’s level of information sharing to be frightening or uncomfortable, a Library 2.0 type of tool will likely appeal to you.  Although information posted by users is browsable on a page-by-page level, it is not indexed exhaustively, nor is it as widely searchable as is the information on Facebook, so it is easier to maintain privacy.  Furthermore, Library 2.0 does not feature a News Feed.  Therefore, unlike Facebook, your activities within the network are not broadcast to all of your contacts.  However, witout a Facebook-style News Feed, it takes much more effort to become aware of interesting discussions within the site’s many fora, useful user blogs, and groups of interest.  A great deal of browsing or manually checking the pages of one’s contacts is often necessary to discover such items of interest. 

Library 2.0 has many of the standard features of a typical SNT.  I have included a screen shot of the network’s home page:  Library 2.0 Home Page 8-6-07

…as well as a screen shot of my Member Profile Page  

The library 2.0 community is still small enough so that most network updates (newly created groups, forum posts, etc.) can be listed directly on the home page in lieu of a News Feed.  Communication and idea sharing is still the major function of this SNT.  Library 2.0 offers a number of RSS feeds as one solution to the necessity of time-consuming browsing.  Like Facebook, the level to which a user would like to have information pushed to his/her email is customizable.  I currently receive email notifications if network members respond to my blog or if I receive friend requests (these are default settings), but I do not currently subscribe to feeds for the blogs.

On my profile page, above, there are several utilities available to the user.  On the far left is listed a single discussion that I started within a forum, and beneath this are network groups that I am affiliated with.  My eight “Friends” (I only know two of them in real life!) are listed by way of their thumbnail images so that I may easily access their own pages.  Below the friend listings is the blog area. 

 A final utility on this page that I would like to point out is in the center of the page, marked, “Your library 2.0 box.”  This is essentially an area that the designer set aside for the user to import widgets, badges, or other embedded content.  Embedded content has become a phenomenon within social networks recently. 

NING

Finally, I would like to mention that Library 2.0 is powered by NING, a social networking service.  NING, founded in 2004, is a program that allows anyone to create and maintain a social networking tool of their own, with all the basic functionality of a typical SNT.  Library 2.0, with its numerous members, and its developed blogs and discussions, exemplifies the potential success of such a home-grown tool. 

 What instantly sprang to mind when I discovered that NING is highly customizable as well as FREE, was that this could be a great tool for student groups affiliated with the library such as the RWIT tutors.  I think such a tool would provide a forum for feedback, collaboration, improving and streamlining practices, or just a place to blow off steam during midterms and other “crunch times”.  It could also become a great window into RWIT’s day-to-day world for librarians and administrators of the RWIT program. 

I am sure there are other specific applications for a home-grown social networking tool such as this, and I welcome any thoughts that folks have regarding some potential uses. 

 IN SUM:

  • Library 2.0 is a home-grown social network powered by NING, which has been home to a fairly vibrant community of librarians since it was founded.
  • Library 2.0 has many similar features to Facebook, but does not include a pervasive News Feed or exhaustive member indexing.  Therefore, a level of member privacy is more easily maintained.
  • Search and discovery of relevant information can be time consuming on Library 2.0 because of this lack of indexing, though members are encouraged to tag their posts for ease of access.
  • Library 2.0 is a great example of a social networking tool that revolves around professional development in a specific field. 
  • NING allows us to create such networks inexpensively and quickly

Cool Rating:  4  (I’m really glad to see an SNT used for professional development, but wish that browsing this one was a little easier)

-M.G

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2 Responses to “Social Networking Tools Part 2: The Library 2.0 Network, and NING”

  1. Meg Gaffey Says:

    hey, this is a test comment. you can comment just by clicking on the link that sent you here- no need to log in. You do have to submit your name and your email address- this will allow wordpress to send you an email if someone has responded to your comment, and thus we can keep the conversation going. IM me or post questions if anyone experiences glitches with the comment function. Thanks! M.G

  2. dartmouthris Says:

    test 2, thanks meg

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