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library 2.0… and its unlikely heroes

as i was doing research for an article on the school library today, i encountered a gentleman who made me reevaluate my initial approach to writing about the subject. it’s not everyday that someone tells you something that contradicts what you have come to take for granted. to put it in a nutshell, the conventional notion of a library is dead… for me at least.

meet nurhazman abdul aziz, digital resources librarian. i think he moonlights as an IT expert too. when i was referred to him at the library’s infodesk, i wasn’t too sure he would be of much help. he was sitting behind the desk, peering intently at the monitor in front of him. truth be told, he didn’t even looked like he could carry on a decent conversation.

the initial exchanges were a bit awkward. he seemed to sized me up (what went through his head?), perhaps wondering who in their right mind would disturb him so soon after lunchtime. i introduced myself and told him that i was researching the digital services offered by the library. i asked him if he could help me or refer me to someone who could. that broke the dam, believe me. ask sarah.

with twinkling eyes he led us over to a computer terminal. he then explained that the ‘online public access catalogue‘ (OPAC) and the academic databases were just scratches on the surface of the library’s ‘digital realm’. he proceeded to talk about what the library had in store – an instant messenger system not unlike msn linking users and librarians, and ‘really simple syndication’ (RSS) feeds that will keep users constantly updated on new materials and information. in essence, the best of the library as a repository of information will be merged with the best of web 2.0 as a platform for interaction and connectivity.

i noted that when a person is sharing something he is passionate about, he transcends the limitations of his demeanor. nurhazman went on and on, even to the extent of describing his personal web 2.0 project, which i am not at liberty to discuss here. it was in general a surreal 20 minutes, spent with an exuberant librarian and his infectious enthusiasm.

he finally ended off by cueing us in on how NTU is pushing the library in the direction of becoming a ‘community centre’. the library of the future will be one where people can work, play, rest and interact all within the same physical and online domain.

the next time the word ‘library’ conjures in your mind images of strict ladies asking you to keep quiet and looking at you with disapproval while settling your fines, think again. the library is undergoing a transformation, and its new heroes might just be those you won’t even give a second glance to. watch out.

for more on my college experiences, click here.


One response

  1. Well. yeah. i was there. And i gotta admit, that guy was impressive.. haha. He knew what he was doing and why he was doing it. it’s amazing.

    Wednesday September 5, 2007 at 11:49 pm

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