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Review: LTR: Collaboration 2.0 by Robin Hastings

Collaboration 2.0 by Robin HastingsThe Library Technology Reports series has a soft place in my heart–it has been my own personal “Library Technology for Dummies Everyone.” From my first introduction to basic Web 2.0 concepts, to technology competencies for libraries, to the emerging trends in catalogs, this series has provided me with the understanding necessary to explore the potential of these technologies and how they should be implemented. Even better, as my technological experience has grown, I’ve continued to find interesting and valuable tips in every report.

Robin Hastings has joined the long list of illustrious writers for this series with her report Collaboration 2.0. She is the Information Technology Manager for the Missouri River Regional Library in Jefferson City, Missouri, and she has a long list of presentations and publications that further validate her expertise in the realms of cloud computing for libraries. In this report, Hastings walks readers through the basics of online collaboration and cloud computing, followed by a description of the Library Society of the World, to show an example of cloud computing in action. Next, she provides explanations of the different styles of technology-aided collaboration, as well as a host of Web 2.0 tools that can be used to foster collaboration. Last, examples of groupware (collaborative software suites), examples of collaborations, and further resources are given.

As with other LTRs I have reviewed, Collaboration 2.0 is a clear, concise, and easy-to-read introduction to the concepts presented.  Hastings looks at Web 2.0 tools from the perspective of someone looking to foster ease of communication and project-based work in libraries.  Tools such as Facebook and Delicious, traditionally used for social purposes or personal productivity, take on a new light when viewed through this lens.  I don’t want to give away all of the richness of the report, but a couple of features are worth pointing out.

When introducing the collaborative tools, Hastings provides information about (and links to) the Terms of Service for each. This is valuable information to provide in a report such as this, especially for busy librarians.  There are those of us (myself included!) who may not pause to realize that the wiki tool WetPaint claims a Creative Commons license for all displayed content–including your content! The ToS summaries provided in the report enough to warrant taking a look at the work! Hasting’s summaries can be further complemented by subscribing to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s recently released Terms of Service Tracker.

The report has few omissions, and those that exist are clearly explained. Hastings only provides a short introduction to the social/psychological concepts behind collaboration; readers expecting to find pointers on encouraging buy-in from team members, managing conflict in collaborative groups, or best practices for getting administrative approval should look to the report’s resource lists for more on these topics. Also, since the writing of this report, several tools have emerged or evolved that should be added to the list of available tools. Dropbox has emerged as a synchronizing and sharing tool that can prevent team members from having to mail documents back and forth, while still keeping documents on their hard drives and maintaining a cloud copy at the same time. Zotero has recently added group libraries, making it a great addition to the report’s list of bookmarking tools.

Hastings had a unique challenge in selecting from the innumerable Web 2.0 tools available, and choosing only those that met the needs of librarians working in a collaborative environment. Yet she did so well, provided concrete examples of these tools in use, and clearly explained the benefits and problems associated with each tool. I recommend this report to any libraries looking to streamline their internal and external collaborations. As these tools for collaboration continue to grow and change, I honestly hope that we see another report from Hastings, following up on the success of this one.

(FULL DISCLOSURE:  I am mentioned in the report, since Ms. Hastings put out a call for collaborative usage of Web 2.0 tools, and I supplied a story that was included.)

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