Web 2.0

My take on Jason Griffey’s question…

What is our product? What should we be commoditizing in order to make our product more valuable? (A question from Jason Griffey – below is my response)
I’m starting from the position that “Library’s” product is information in general and the containers of that information in particular (though we could have other products and other starting points for this exercise, to be sure). Books, magazine articles, reference questions – they all are parts of the product we provide. The commodity complement to that information could be a way to put it all together in a publishable form. Whether this is a class on book publishing or a multi-media station that allows patrons to record audio or video for publishing on the web or help with putting together a research paper with proper citations and formatting, these are the commodities that grow from the product we provide. We could package those commodities in multiple ways. We could offer classes in a series from finding information for your genealogical history to putting it all together in a comprehensible way to publishing it for your family to purchase from an on-demand publisher. A content creation station that lets people record audio and video with a knowledgeable librarian nearby to help them remix the content we have into something new and fresh for their use or to help them polish the final product and choose where on the Web to publish their creations. And, as many librarians have done for years, a research paper help guide that gives tips on formatting and properly citing references in a formal way.
Another commodity that we can offer is the packaging of our knowledge into “classes” a la Moodle courses and offering those as “for more information on…” modules for patrons to use in their information searching needs. We have, as a profession, a number of skills and literacies that we could share with our patrons to make their information searches more fruitful and to help them make something real and concrete with that information that they’ve found. Those skills could be packaged up into a course container and provided to patrons at the end of a reference interview or in a computer lab where the tools to make use of those skills are readily available to them. For non-computer using patrons, we could provide the information as handouts or even library-published small books that could be given to them as we finish with our interactions and they have the information they need. They could be pointers to what they can do with that information and how we can help them do it.
This is pretty much the result of a free-writing exercise this morning – I used Jason’s question above as a prompt and started writing. I know there are other ways to create commodities that we can offer to make our product(s) more valuable to our patrons and I’ll be watching his blog post to see what other folks come up with!

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