I was shocked when I read on the Library 2.0 web site that Technorati tracks over 51 million blogs. And that was in 2006! Back in the day an author was something that one aspired to one day become, submitting story after story or article after article in the hopes of getting published. Now, anyone with access to a computer and internet connection can be an author. Is this a good thing? I think it probably is. But what about all the junk out there? Well, no one says you have to read it. Technorati does a pretty good job of weeding through the excess and finding what you want. Sure, there is still some trial and error involved and probably a few misses too, but you have to start somewhere.
So what is the attraction to blogging? Why are millions of people doing it? And who's reading it? To tell you the truth, I don't really know the answer to either of these questions. I guess that it gives a voice to those who didn't have one previously. Or an audience for that matter! Now that I'm thinking about it I did find some helpful information for a project last semester on someone's blog. In the case of an institution like a library it could also serve as a very cheap method of reaching out to patrons, those that already are and those that may get pulled in.
After writing the first couple paragraphs of this post I read Michael Stephens' blog post on Librarian 2.0. He brings up some interesting points. He mentioned using web 2.0 to meet users where they are-online and in real time. It makes sense. Gone are the days when librarians can sit back and wait for patrons to come to them, if they have the guts in the first place. Aparently librarians can be kinda scarey! I can't think of any terrible experiences myselt, but I know others who have. So what could be easier for most tech savvy folks these days than clicking on an ask-a-librarian-type link on a web site and being instantly connected with an information professional.
Trendspotting, as Stephens states, also seems like a must for the library contending with a world that changes more quickly every year. Keeping current means connecting with new and younger users. And if you can hook them while they're young, the library stands a good chance of becoming a relevant and integral part of their lives no matter what happens in the future. There is a balance, though, where new patrons feel welcomed in while those already comfortable with a traditional library do not feel alienated either. After all, these are the people who have helped libraries make it to this crazy, interactive techno-point in the first place!