Web 2.0 applications in top Chine...
Web 2.0 applications in top Chinese university libraries Zhiping Han Library of Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing, China, and Yan Quan Liu Southern Connecticut State University, Hamden, Connecticut, USA Abstract Purpose ��� This paper aims to explore the status and construction pattern of Web 2.0 technologies employed in top Chinese university libraries, their functionalities and features. Design/methodology/approach ��� A combination of online survey and content analysis methodology is applied to a sample of 38 top Chinese university libraries��� web sites. The Web 2.0 tools are categorized by generally accepted standards with some adjustment for library practices. Data were collected by accessing these university library web sites on two separate occasions during the period of February 10-20, 2009 by utilizing a checklist of 52 questions. Findings ��� More than two-thirds of the 38 top Chinese university libraries apply one or more kinds of Web 2.0 tools through the basic functions of their web sites. Among six types of tools, Catalog 2.0 and RSS are the most common, while IM, Blog, SNS and Wiki are less frequent. Research limitations/implications ��� Internal applications that are not publicly accessible contain hidden information that may not be gathered through content analysis since these links usually cannot be found on library web sites. It is difficult to get exact information as to the applications of Web 2.0 in these libraries without an interview method in combination to observation. Originality/value ��� This study provides an overall picture of Web 2.0 tools developed in top Chinese university libraries, allowing for future evaluation and planning. The implementation of Web 2.0 applications and their constructing pattern is not only indicative of the development of the Chinese digital libraries, but also to their development of digital libraries in the world at large. Keywords Worldwide web, University libraries, Digital libraries, China Paper type Research paper 1. Introduction Since term Web 2.0 was coined by O���Reilly Media in 2004, it has been growing into one of the most popular words in our current network environment, undoubtedly extending its influence to the library community. New tools and services utilizing Web 2.0 are changing the way people use the internet, making it easier to collaborate, communicate and share information. Under such influence, pioneering libraries in the USA and UK have made steadily increasing efforts to equip their traditional library web sites with more 2.0 elements, a process being called Library 2.0. As libraries aspire to remain relevant as premiere suppliers of information that attract and engage their patrons, embracing Library 2.0 has become almost synonymous with their overall success. The new wave of applications of Web 2.0-related technologies in libraries has gained increasing popularity globally. But this growth does not come without some concern. The 2007 Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Environmental Scan urges librarians to facilitate new approaches to library services by continually assessing the impact that the proliferation of Web 2.0 has on users��� perceptions of the library, The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0737-8831.htm Web 2.0 applications 41 Received 16 August 2009 Revised 24 August 2009 Accepted 17 September 2009 Library Hi Tech Vol. 28 No. 1, 2010 pp. 41-62 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0737-8831 DOI 10.1108/07378831011026689
including the use of social networking sites, wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, and recommendation systems (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2007). Breeding (2007) also endorses this stance, warning that the goal of implementing Web 2.0 technology is not enough libraries must focus on methods of engaging users and emphasizing content while integrating its various Web 2.0 components. Otherwise, a system built on isolated packets of information works against Web 2.0���s vision of collective intelligence and integrated information platforms. Because of the lack of statistics for these newly applied services, the response from library patrons toward Web 2.0 is still somewhat unknown. Although many university libraries in the US engage with Web 2.0 technologies, there are still many who do not. Shortages of human resources, a lack of budget devoted to newer technologies, or uncertainty about Web 2.0���s tangible effects may contribute to this. As it stands today, many existing studies on Web 2.0 applications in library communities concentrate on a specific aspect of Web 2.0 technology and a case study, which helps libraries to integrate that service into their digital library environments. However, there is little study that focuses on the overall development of applications of Web 2.0 among library communities. These observations, a cross-section of which Web 2.0 technologies are utilized and where, provide valuable information for libraries considering Web 2.0 tools for future strategic development. Under such context, the study attempts to investigate the overall application of Web 2.0 and to what extent it is utilized in top Chinese university libraries. This paper consists of five main parts: introduction, literature review, research design, results and discussions, and conclusions. 2. Literature review 2.1 General studies Many worthwhile studies have been conducted in the field of Web 2.0 applications since 2004, although some might disagree with the true meaning of the term Web 2.0. A useful summary of Web 2.0 including details of criticisms raised concerning the Web 2.0 is provided in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/web_2). After initial arguments, a consensus has been achieved on the key Web 2.0 concepts. According to Kelly (2008), the key Web 2.0 concepts include: an attitude, not a technology the network effect openness the long tail trust your users network as a platform always beta and small pieces, loosely coupled. In Black���s (2007) view, the principles and concepts of Web 2.0 are demonstrated in the tools associated with the term. The most popular tool-application areas associated with Web 2.0 (Kelly, 2008) include: blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts and videocasts, mashups, social sharing services, communication tools, social networks, folksomonies and tagging, and virtual worlds. The term Library 2.0 first appeared in September 2005 in a post by Michael Casey in his blog LibraryCrunch, alluding to the term Web 2.0 in an attempt to associate library community more directly with its concepts and tools. Chad and Miller (2005) describe Library 2.0 as a concept, greatly different from the traditional library service that operates according to the expectations of users. This encouraged many to embrace the application of Web 2.0 technologies into library community. For example, Bradley (2007) and Farkas (2007) believe that librarians should begin experimenting and using these tools to enhance the services they offer. Curran et al. (2007) present an overview of Web 2.0 indicating that Library 2.0 reinforces the role libraries play in the LHT 28,1 42
community by building on today���s best and continually improving the service, which can be summarized as being user-driven and aiming to save time in retrieving information. Recently, based on experimental practices and critical thinking, many studies have been conducted on Web 2.0 applications in the library community, which help promote further practical applications in a much wider range. 2.2 Case study of Web 2.0 tools applications Case studies often concern one specific tool���s application which offers how-to suggestions and some valuable evaluations of the application. Some newly emerged examples of such studies include podcast usages and perceptions of library instruction in New Zealand���s Universal College of Learning (UCOL) (Jowitt, 2008), planning, implementing and evaluating of subject-based blog (Blair and Level, 2008), implementing an instant messaging (IM) service (Hvass and Myer, 2008). Jowitt (2008) collects information from the staff and students of UCOL on six library-produced podcasts��� usage, perceptions, demographics and technologies, hoping to provide New Zealand academic and other libraries with a current picture of podcasting for library instruction and an insight into whether this may be a sustainable new technology. The research shows that podcasting for library instruction will benefit UCOL as an institution, showing potential as an alternative communication medium. Blair and Level (2008) describe the detailed process of setting subject-based BANR blog in their library web site and use an evaluation method to track its effects. The assessment of BANR blog proves it is worthwhile to continue it, indicating some future direction of emphasis and improvement. Another important conclusion drawn from the assessment is that marketing must be continuous in order to recruit the next generation of readers. While there is clearly a necessity for evaluation and reflection on new Web 2.0 applications, especially in an environment that is constantly upgrading technology, we cannot forget that the methods by which library patrons consume information are rapidly evolving. Hvass and Myer (2008) report the results of a case study evaluating the introduction of an IM reference service. The study finds that it is possible to set up an IM service without the need to purchase of hardware or software. Although usages of IM services are growing, there are concerns about the relatively small number of queries.. However, the existing users are delighted with it. These studies confirm the advantages libraries and patrons can experience from the application of specific Web 2.0 tools. At the same time they point out that engagement from patrons is still limited and more work can be done to attract them. 2.3 General studies of Web 2.0 applications Compared to the push to introduce libraries to specific Web 2.0 tools, little has been done to study the overall development of these efforts. A shortage of scholarly literature can be partially rationalized by the fact that these technologies are still experimental there is no standard for general evaluation and measurement. And although continued research is highly pertinent to the further development of Library 2.0, it is also among its least studied fields. Among the few researches, Linh (2008) investigates the application of Web 2.0 in Australasian university libraries and concludes that at least two-thirds Australasian university libraries deployed one or more Web 2.0 technologies but the average of these indexes was still low. The mean Web 2.0 applications 43