I have started (and deleted) this post a few times. I am hoping that this time it "sticks."
In November 2006, Laura at Library 2.0: an academic's perspective published a Library 2.0 manifesto. The bullet points of the manifesto represent the Library 2.0 ideas that people who believe in it hold close to their hearts. One could print off this manifesto, hang it in one's office, and use those bullet points to live a Library 2.0 life.
In the August 2007 issue of American Libraries, Laura wrote and article about her manifesto. She details her thoughts behind why she wrote the manifesto and describes the ways in which the document has taken on a life of its own. She writes that Library 2.0 "reaffirms libraries as user centered enterprises, and then connects this focus to current information culture. As the nature of this information culture evolves, so does the nature of library services, which become transformed in an experimental, risk-taking process. Users are given a trusted, participatory role in shaping this transformation. Ultimately, librarians become champions of adaptability to meet users' evolving needs" (p. 49).
Libraries are user-centered enterprises. They were well before the advent of Library 2.0. Not every library represents this view, obviously, but the nature of what all libraries do is to connect users with information.
The current information culture is collaborative. Social software like MySpace, Facebook, PB Wiki, LiveJournal, YouTube, Flickr have made information more available to all. People can be hooked in as much or as little as they choose to everyone else. Couple that with a search engine like Google (that can get you anything and everything you could possible want) and an encyclopedia like Wikipedia (that can provide you facts on nearly everything, no matter how obscure) and not only in the information culture collaborative, but it is also instantaneous.
So, libraries have to be user-centered in a world that is both collaborative and instantaneous, right?
In a nutshell, this is what I believe Library 2.0 is about.
What I don't believe, however, is that we should throw out our authority as an institution in order to make sure that the user is always right. Being user-centered is not the same as being user-driven.
Libraries have built their reputation on providing people with the information they need to be successful. Sometimes that means teaching someone how to use a database. Sometimes this means helping someone find a recipe. Sometimes this means helping someone do patent searches or look for medical literature.
In this user-centered world, librarians need to stop being gate-keepers, but they shouldn't just throw the gates open and let the people run amok.
Yes, your library should have a web presence. Yes, your library should do chat reference. Yes, your library should have a catalog and website that make sense for users.
Yes, your librarians should be able to talk to patrons about subjects and technologies that interest them.
I also believe though, that your library needs a classification system. Maybe it isn't Dewey or LC, but you need to keep the books in order in some way so that users can find what they're looking for. Your library catalog should have controlled vocabulary of some sort. Maybe you dump the antiquated language of LC subject headings in favor of language that is more natural, but your users need to be able to find what they're looking for in your catalog.
Learn. Play. Explore.
Know what matters to your users and know how to give it to them.
But don't sell yourself short by giving away everything that makes you special as an institution.
Remember that your charge as a library is to be user-centered and to connect people with the information they need to be successful.
User-centered doesn't mean user-driven.