PRINT AND ELECTRONIC RESOURCES REVIEWS: Library and Information Science Research
Electronic Journal ISSN 1058-6768
2009 Volume 19 Issue 2; September

in this issue:

Earnshaw, R., & Vince, J. (Eds.). (2008). Digital Convergence -Libraries of the Future. London: Springer-Verlag.  414pp.  ISBN: 978-1-84628-902-6.

Kroski, Ellyssa.  Web 2.0 for Librarians and Information Professionals. New York:  Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2008.  209 pp.  ISBN: 978-1-55570-614-2

Earnshaw, R., & Vince, J. (Eds.). (2008). Digital Convergence -Libraries of the Future. London: Springer-Verlag.  414pp.  ISBN: 978-1-84628-902-6.

Digital convergence has been a buzz word with information technology managers for at least the last decade.  In their book, Digital Convergence – Libraries of the Future, editors Rae Earnshaw and John Vince have brought together contributed papers written by, according to the back cover “international experts who are leaders in their fields”.  Although it can be argued that the authors represent primarily universities in the United Kingdom, not a broad international perspective, the monograph does provide thought provoking material from a prestigious collection of contributors.  Editor Rae Earnshaw in the introduction moves from descriptions of the earliest libraries chronologically through developments that have impacted library services into the 21st Century.  This lays the framework for the collection of papers presented.  Divided into seven sections Digital Convergence – Libraries of the Future, takes the reader from issues of organization and delivery to the governance of digital content.

However, a few of the papers provide little more that a description of “current” technologies as they existed in 2005-2006. Unfortunately, technology, including advances in digital media, social networking, and mobile devices is a very fast moving target.  The work is most successful at describing and analyzing the history of several large scale digital initiatives, including the partnership between Google and the Oxford Digital Library.  Derek Law’s “Beyond the Hybrid Library: Libraries in a Web 2.0 World” is a thoughtful piece which maps traditional library services to the Web 2.0 world and discusses the implications for library services.  Editors Earnshaw and Vince’s contributed, “From the Information Age to the Intelligence Age: Exploiting IT and Convergence” continues the theme.  However, they take a big picture approach noting that digital technology is having significant impact not only upon services but “upon storage, compositing and dissemination of every form of media we currently manipulate”(Earnshaw & Vince, 2008 p.249)

Digital Convergence – Libraries of the Future, is a blend of well referenced scholarly papers and more personal essays and ruminations of scholars working to define libraries of the future.  This monograph is an excellent addition to collections in Library and Information Science, as well as a useful exploration for managers of digital collections.  Although technology is moving faster than the traditionally published academic monographs can keep pace with, the collection of papers provided is well-written, well sourced and thought provoking. Perhaps having an understanding of where libraries and digital technologies have been will help librarians and information managers design successful models for libraries of the future.

Rayette Sterling
Outreach to Special Populations Librarian
Eastern Washington University


Kroski, Ellyssa.  Web 2.0 for Librarians and Information Professionals. New York:  Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2008.  209 pp.  ISBN: 978-1-55570-614-2

The salient point about technology and libraries is that no one will ever catch up to the speed of development and this is further complicated by the fact that not all libraries are created equal.  Many libraries have a good handle on Web 2.0 because they have the money and staff to make that happen, but many other libraries lag far behind.  Information schools emphasize the new technologies and capabilities; new librarians are close to the cutting edge, but long-term practicing librarians often have had to learn on their own, motivated by needs at work or self interest.

Be that as it may, Web 2.0 is an amazing and powerful evolution of the way the web is used.  Before, if you knew HTML you could participate in development and create options for your library.  Now, you can participate to the level you want or need and customize to your heart’s content.   It’s still very good to know a markup language, but freely provided online vehicles abound and there is a major shift of the zeitgeist going on, yet again.  People go around the markup language, trusting responsive products and services instead. For some readers, this book is about 2 years late (and it’s not the author’s fault.)  But for many other librarians, Kroski’s work will be enlightening, because by now, they know they need this kind of help.

Kroski says in her preface that she is attempting to introduce “readers to a vast array of cutting edge tools” based upon knowledge of how patrons approach and use the Internet.  Her goal is to “show how Web 2.0 can help libraries enhance their online presence, promote services, and increase patronage.”  In this time of dwindling reference-use statistics and static circulation numbers, all of these things can and should be addressed by librarians.  If we don’t use the tools that we are given, why should we bother to open the doors?

Basically, Web 2.0 has shifted usage to satisfy people’s need to have an interactive, dynamic experience that far exceeds reading static web pages.  People can actively participate in sharing knowledge through tools such as blogs, wikis, social networking, and a myriad of reader-created sites.  Examples, of course, include MySpace, Wikipedia and YouTube.  And how many marriages have been made based upon online meetings?

Kroski dedicates the largest portion of her book to self-contained modules for each of the seventeen forms of technology.  Each chapter includes the basic concept, how libraries might use that form, and then provides links to illustrative web sites.  Given publishing schedules, some may not be available for long, but they will lead to others.  Each chapter and concept is copiously illustrated.  A glossary and a ‘best practices’ for each concept is very helpful.

Fortunately for all readers, Kroski doesn’t come across as a condescending techie.  Her language is not overly complicated, and her concept descriptions really do give added value to the technological knowledge most librarians possess.  She understands the concepts well, explains them clearly from a librarian’s point of view, and her evaluations of various sites are on point.  The format that Kroski has employed is also responsible for the autonomy of each concept.  There is no pool of knowledge at the end of the book, nor is there a conclusion.  Therefore, the book is exactly what its author intended.  It will help those of us slightly behind the curve, but still in the game, to catch up, and those who are behind by a bit can make the leap to Web 2.0 knowing that this book will give them good information.  This book is a necessary purchase for all but the information schools.


Elizabeth Malia, MLS
Media, Eastern Washington University