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The Electronic Library
Emerald Article: The changing role of librarians in the digital world:
Adoption of Web 2.0 technologies by Pakistani librarians
Muhammad Arif, Khalid Mahmood
To cite this document: Muhammad Arif, Khalid Mahmood, (2012),"The changing role of librarians in the digital world: Adoption of
Web 2.0 technologies by Pakistani librarians", The Electronic Library, Vol. 30 Iss: 4 pp. 469 - 479
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The changing role of librarians in
the digital world
Adoption of Web 2.0 technologies by Pakistani
Department of Library and Information Science, Allama Iqbal Open University,
Islamabad, Pakistan, and
Department of Library and Information Science, University of Punjab, Lahore,
Purpose – The aim of this study was to explore the pattern and extent of the adoption of Web 2.0
technologies by Pakistani librarians.
Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted using web-based surveying software
(SurveyMonkey) and Pakistan based LIS e-mail discussion groups. Professional librarians serving in
all types of libraries participated in the study.
Findings – Instant messaging, blogs, social networking and wikis were the most popular Web 2.0
technologies. Librarians adopted such technologies in their professional and personal lives. Gender,
length of professional experience and place of work have no effect on the frequency of use, while
perceived skill level of internet use and perceived ease of Web 2.0 use have a signiﬁcant effect on the
frequency. Lack of computer literacy, and lower availability of computers and internet facilities were
the major hindrances of Web 2.0 adoption by librarians. Awareness and training programs could
enable librarians to cope with Web 2.0 technologies.
Research limitations/implications – Due to the use of a non-probability/non-representative
sampling method, the results cannot be generalized.
Practical implications – This study will create awareness among LIS professionals toward the use
of advanced technology in their professional environment. The ﬁndings of this study will contribute to
the successful adoption of Web 2.0 in libraries.
Originality/value – This is the ﬁrst study on the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in Pakistani
Keywords Web 2.0, Library 2.0, Worldwide web, Internet, Librarians, Blogs, Wikis,
Technology adoption, Pakistan
Paper type Research paper
During the last two decades rapid technological developments have affected library
services. Speciﬁcally for the last ﬁve years, Web 2.0 technologies, a second generation
of the world wide web, have had a signiﬁcant impact on the higher education sector as
well as on libraries all over the world. Introducing the term in 2004, O’Reilly (2006)
deﬁned Web 2.0 as:
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Adoption of Web
Received September 2010
Revised December 2010
Accepted December 2010
The Electronic Library
Vol. 30 No. 4, 2012
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the
internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.
Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better
the more people use them.
Collins (2007) identiﬁed the principles of Web 2.0 as:
Community: Open conversation can lead to a sense of community and belonging within social
sites.Conversation: User participation discussion and feedback are welcomed and
encouraged.Participation: New information is created via collaboration between users.
Everyone can create content; idea and knowledge for freely and are remixed and
reused.Experience: Engagement with other users and the community as a whole is rewarding
and provides some type of fulﬁllment.Sharing: Users can post about as much or as little of
their lives as possible. (p. 253)
Many Web 2.0 technologies like blogs, microblogs, wikis, syndication of content through
RSS, social bookmarking, media sharing, networking sites and other social software
artifacts were incorporated in teaching and learning process in higher education. These
technologies provide unique and powerful information sharing and collaborative features
in teaching as well as with colleagues, administrative and libraries’ staff (Grosseck, 2009).
The traditional role of information professionals was to provide access to collection
in the libraries. To provide services in emerging environment, libraries adopted Web
2.0 technologies with new nomenclature “Library 2.0,” the term coined by Michael
Casey (Casey and Savastinuk, 2006). The concept of Library 2.0 means to take ideas
and concepts from Web 2.0 and adopt them in library environment (Needleman, 2007).
The Web 2.0 environment helps library patrons to access information, develop insight
and generate knowledge. To meet the growing needs of the patrons, Heinrichs and Lim
(2009) suggested that libraries needed to hire skilled librarians to provide expanded
services to create and disseminate knowledge in the digital age.
Internet use in South Asia
The present study focuses on the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies by Pakistani
librarians, therefore, it is necessary to provide basic information about internet use
statistics in the country and its neighboring countries. Table I shows that Pakistan has
more internet penetration among all countries in South Asia.
ICT application in Pakistani librarianship
Many studies on attitude, status, application and utilization of ICT in Pakistani
libraries have been conducted among LIS professionals as well as in academic libraries’
Bangladesh 158,065,841 100,000 617,300 0.4 517.3
India 1,173,108,018 5,000,000 81,000,000 6.9 1,520.0
Pakistan 177,276,594 133,900 18,500,000 10.4 13,716.3
Sri Lanka 21,513,990 121,500 1,776,200 8.3 1,361.9
Source: Internet World Stats (June 2010)
Internet use in Pakistan
setting (Ramzan and Singh, 2010; Ramzan, 2004; Haider, 1998; Khalid, 1998; Rehman,
1992). The ﬁndings of the studies showed that LIS professionals lack in ICT skills.
Similarly many other LIS professionals in the country also emphasized the need to
improve ICT skills among library professionals (Ameen, 2006; Khalid, 1998; Rehman,
1992). Most of the library leaders lack the ability to be innovative, creative, imaginative
and visionary, in addition to lacking ICT and communication skills (Haider, 2004).
In a recent study, Mahmood (2010) surveyed 227 LIS professionals, working in all
types of libraries in the country, to assess attitude towards the internet. He found that a
majority of the respondents (79 percent) were using the internet daily. The ﬁndings of
the study exposed that the professionals were much inclined towards Internet
technology adoption. Owing to the ﬁndings, he suggested that the internet facility
should be provided to all LIS professionals in the country. In respect of better use of the
internet, library employers, LIS schools and professional associations should provide
extensive internet training at pre- and in-service levels.
Web 2.0 in libraries
Technological advancement compelled libraries to adopt interactive online media for
their survival (Maxymuk, 2007). The increasing trend of social networking sites’ usage
affected the traditional approach to organize information on the Internet (Tonta, 2008).
Web 2.0 provided innovative and interesting resources for librarians to serve their
users as quickly and effectively as possible with new ways (Bradley, 2007). In the
similar way, Keralapura (2009) stated that information technology inﬂuenced the
functions of libraries and changed the information seeking behavior of readers. Being
self-motivated and service minded, this was the responsibility of librarians to
incorporate IT based resources and services to satisfy the customers in a better way.
During a survey of 60 universities, Chu (2009) explored that “where electronic
services are becoming more and more popular, an increasing number of academic
libraries are applying or planning to apply Web 2.0 technologies like wikis.” The study
also highlighted the three most commonly reported difﬁculties; low participation rate
of users, difﬁculty in promoting the new technology, and users’ lack of knowledge
towards usage of wikis.
Aharony (2009) explored whether librarians working in school, public and academic
libraries were familiar with the technologies of Web 2.0 as well as how they used them in
the libraries. According to the ﬁndings of the study, personality charactaristcs (resistance
to change, cognitive appraisal, empowerment and extroversion or introversion), computer
expertise, motivation, importance and capacity towards studying and integrating
different applications of Web 2.0 in the future, inﬂuenced librarians’ use of Web 2.0. The
individual differences with respect to technology acceptance were existed. It was
disclosed that library manager as compared to librarians were more inclined to
incorporate Web 2.0 technologies to offer new services in the libraries. However the
“librarians were quite exposed to these changes. They understood that in order to survive,
remain relevant, attract new patrons, and be professional, they should master the newest
technological applications and apply them in their changing work environment” (p. 34).
To explore the extent of Web 2.0 technologies applications, Xu et al. (2009) surveyed
81 academic library web sites in New York State. They found that 34 (42 percent)
libraries incorporated one or more Web 2.0 applications for various purposes. The
maximum usage of the Web 2.0 technologies was blogs while the least adopted
Adoption of Web
technology named podcasting in the libraries. Based on the study’s ﬁndings, they
proposed a conceptual model of “Academic Library 2.0” which was comprised Web 2.0,
User 2.0, Librarian 2.0 and Information 2.0. According to the model, users can be
served in better way only if they are considered essential part of libraries’ operations
and services. Linh (2008) conducted a similar research in Australia by conducting a
survey of 47 Australian and New Zealand universities. Of the total 47, 32 university
libraries (26 in Australia and six in New Zealand) used Web 2.0 technologies. The
ﬁndings of the study showed that “at least two-thirds of Australasian university
libraries deployed one or more Web 2.0 technologies. Only four Web 2.0 technologies
were used for speciﬁc purposes and with some basic features” (p. 630).
Web 2.0 in developing countries
Web 2.0 technologies have been much discussed theoretically in different forums,
conferences, listservs, seminars, and so on. In this regard, Indian library science schools
were suggested to revise syllabus and include practice-oriented ICT skills. The proper
implementation of ICTs could help to solve a number of problems relevant to the Indian
education. “For example, a combination of virtual classroom, online tutorials and digital
libraries, and the virtual reference tools in local language could help the rural Indian
youth to compete with the outside world and move towards information literacy path
irrespective of their socio-economic status” (Gokhale and Chandra, 2009, p. 11).
As compared to developed world, limited research has been found on Web 2.0
application in Indian libraries. In a recent study, Harinarayana and Raju (2010), Indian
LIS researchers, surveyed top 100 universities web sites of the world to see Web 2.0
applications in the libraries. For this purpose, web sites of universities were visited and
data on their Web 2.0 features (such as Blogs, RSS, Instant Messaging, Wikis and the
like) were collected and analyzed. No Indian university was included in the survey.
Bansode et al. (2009) emphasized that Indian librarians should opt new publishing
trends like RSS. It has become mandatory for the librarians to use RSS which is an
affordable and relatively easy way to communicate with users and colleagues. In
another descriptive study, Aswath (2007) proposed a conceptual model of social
bookmarking, a product of Web 2.0, which can be used to organize widely scattered
information resources to access information by patrons 2.0 in higher education.
In an exploratory survey, conducted by Chew (2009) to know how library
institutions in the South East Asian region, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan,
Malaysia, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan, have
implemented Web 2.0 technologies? It was found in the survey that academic libraries
were using more Web 2.0 technologies, blogs, RSS feeds, wikis, or the use of services
like Flickr, YouTube, de.lici.ous, as compare to public libraries. While commenting on
Web 2.0 technologies applications in Indian libraries, the author stated:
For examples in India, help came from a librarian in Singapore who answered the enquiry
that I posted to a mailing list, as well as non-librarians who gave me the following initial
leads:Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K) library
blog – http://iiitmklibrary.blogspot.comLibrary@Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom in Kerala and
its use of Twitter (http://twitter.com/librarykvpattom) to broadcast messages to patrons of
new books/ notices to return books and other Web 2.0 tools (p. 227).
Librarians in Iran are also lagging behind in using information technologies. In a
survey that covered 17 libraries belonging to Shahid Bahonar University, Kerman
Medical University and Islamic Azad University, located in Iran, it was found that
among the serious difﬁculties to provide better services in the libraries were IT
illiterate librarians (Mohsenzadeh and Isfandyari-Moghaddam, 2009).
Web 2.0 in Pakistan
In Pakistan, libraries are generally not using Web 2.0 technologies too much. The review
of literature reveals that no study was conducted on the adoption of Web 2.0 in
librarianship. A limited literature existed with respect to the use of Web 2.0 technologies
in the country, e.g. social networks and blogging. Shaheen (2008) conducted a survey of
420 students studying in three public sector universities based in twin cities;
Rawalpindi/Islamabad. This study described how students communicated among
themselves when the then President, General Pervez Musharaf, of Pakistan declared
emergency in the country on November 03, 2007. Along with other communication
channels, the study found that the youth used social networks like Facebook, Orkut,
MySpace, Classmates.com and MSN Spaces to promote freedom of speech and political
awareness against the imposition of state of emergency in the country.
In another study titled “Blogging in Pakistan: Election 2008 as case study,” Zeb (2008)
surveyed LIS professionals, bloggers and conducted four interviews of information
professsionals as well as journalists. A total of 30 LIS professionals and 13 bloggers
responded to the survey. He found that even after removing state emergency, which was
imposed in 2007, the people of Pakistan were facing problems to communicate during the
general election 2008 in the country. Due to the lack of interest, restriced access to the
Internet and unfamiliarity of the old age generation towards ICT’s usage, mostly the
young people used blogs as communication channel during the general election. The
interviewees suggested that more blogs should be created in Urdu, the national
language. In addition, “most of the respondents described blogging as an effective tool to
spread democratic thought in Pakistan” (Zeb, 2008, p. 56). From the ﬁndings of these two
studies, it can be concluded that Web 2.0 technologies were already being used in the
country in the ﬁelds other than librarianship.
There are various technologies that have been grouped as Web 2.0, the second version
of the world wide web. Like other spheres of life these technologies have made their
space in libraries. It is assumed that librarians in Pakistan have also adopted these
tools in their personal and professional lives. However, no empirical evidence is
available on the use pattern of such technologies by this group. In order to improve the
services offered by librarians and enhance efﬁciency in their personal lives, there is a
need to explore the extent of adoption and pattern of use of Web 2.0 technologies by
Objectives and methodology of the study
The present study was conducted to achieve the following objectives:
.to identify the Web 2.0 technologies adopted by Pakistani librarians;
.to ﬁnd out how frequently librarians use these technologies; and
.to see the difference in the frequency of Web 2.0 use based on various personal
and professional characteristics of librarians.
Adoption of Web
To achieve the objectives of this study the survey method was used. The participants
of the survey comprised library professionals serving in academic, special, school and
public libraries in Pakistan. The survey was administered through the online survey
software (SurveyMonkey) and various Pakistani LIS e-mail discussion groups. Based
on a literature review, a questionnaire was designed and pre-tested on ﬁve librarians.
The data collection instrument consisted of questions regarding demographic
information, type and purpose of Web 2.0 technologies adopted by librarians, need for
training, perceived skill level of using internet and perceived ease of Web 2.0
technologies. Frequency of the use of Web 2.0 technologies was measured on a
ﬁve-point scale. Additional space was also provided for suggestions to improve the
quality and rate of adoption of Web 2.0 technologies by librarians.
Professional librarians were invited through listservs to participate in the survey.
After two reminders 210 responded. The data from 192 completely ﬁlled in and usable
questionnaires were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS)
version 16. The participation in this survey was voluntary. The respondents do not
statistically represent the population of above 4,000 librarians in Pakistan. Although
the results of this study present an insight into the topic but these cannot be
generalized to the larger population.
Results and discussion
The personal and professional proﬁle of the respondents is shown in Table II.
Three-fourths of the participants were male. Although there are no statistics available
Variable Value Frequency Percent
Gender Male 146 76
Female 46 24
Professional experience Up to 5 years 67 35
6-10 years 42 22
11-15 years 42 22
16 years or more 41 21
Place of work University libraries 89 46
College libraries 30 16
School libraries 4 2
Special libraries 41 21
Public libraries 6 3
Other 22 12
Perceived internet use skills Novice 24 13
Intermediate 69 36
Expert 99 52
Perceived ease of Web 2.0 use Easy 154 80
Difﬁcult 38 20
Purpose of Web 2.0 use Professional 76 40
Personal 77 40
Both 39 20
Need for training in Web 2.0 use Yes 148 77
No 44 23
Personal and professional
proﬁle of the respondents
on the gender ratio of the users of e-mail discussion groups in Pakistan, it is assumed
that an equal number of female librarians are the members of these groups. However,
females are less frequent in sending messages and taking part in surveys.
The majority of the respondents were youthful with less professional experience. 57
percent of them had up to ten years experience in the profession. About half
participants were from university libraries. It was already established in many studies
that university libraries in the country were in a better position with good
technological infrastructure. Another group with comparatively better facilities is
special libraries – represented by 21 percent of respondents. Owing to the poor ICT
facilities, college, school and public librarians are less represented in this survey.
The participants were asked to give opinion on their perceived skills of using
internet. About half considered themselves expert while 36 percent were at
intermediate level. They were also asked to show their perception regarding the
ease of use of Web 2.0 technologies. A large majority (80 percent) were of the opinion
that these tools were easy to use. The results reveal that librarians were using Web 2.0
tools to fulﬁll their professional as well as personal needs.
In response to the question “Do you need training to use Web 2.0 technologies in the
library?” 77 percent said “yes.” The results reveal that a group of librarians, who were
“experts” in using the internet and perceived Web 2.0 technology as “easy to use,”
needs more training to use these tool in libraries. It shows their eagerness towards
using these innovations in their professional work.
Instant messaging was the Web 2.0 technology that was used by most of the
respondents (113). The next most common technology was the social networking
(Facebook, etc.) used by 98 librarians. Blogs and wikis were also popular. RSS and
podcasting were least popular among the respondents (Figure 1). These results are
generally in conformity with the ﬁndings of similar studies in advanced countries.
Instant messaging, blogs, social networking, wikis and RSS have been popular among
librarians of USA and UK.
The results reveal that the respondents were not very frequent users of Web 2.0
technologies (Table III). On average, they were providing reference services through
Frequency of Web 2.0 use
Adoption of Web
instant messaging and reading wikis and blogs on monthly basis. They occasionally
participated in social networks, used RSS and posted messages to blogs. They rarely
edited entries in wikis. The low adoption of Web 2.0 tools by librarians can be
interpreted as the lack of awareness among them. They did not know the usefulness of
such technologies in improving library services and their personal lives.
Inferential statistics were calculated to test the hypotheses regarding the possible
differences in the frequency of technology use in various groups based on personal and
professional characteristics. The results of Independent Samples t-test (two groups)
and Analysis of Variance – ANOVA (more groups) are shown in Table IV.
There was no signiﬁcant difference in the frequency of Web 2.0 use between male
and female librarians. This ﬁnding rejects the perceptions about a Muslim society with
conservative attitudes about the use of internet among women. The internet is not
perceived as good for morality in common middle class families in Pakistan. Some
Rank Statement Mean SD
1 I provide reference service through instant messaging 2.80 1.78
2 I read wikis 2.53 1.69
3 I read blogs 2.51 1.68
4 I participate in social network 2.40 1.65
5 I add messages to blogs 1.95 1.44
6 I use RSS 1.88 1.39
7 I edit entries in wikis 1.44 1.08
Notes: 1¼Rare, 2 ¼Occasionally, 3 ¼Monthly, 4 ¼Weekly, 5 ¼Daily
Descriptive statistics of
various uses of Web 2.0
Independent variables Values Mean Statistics Sig.
Gender Male 2.24 t¼0:651 0.516
Professional experience Up to 5 years 2.11 F¼1:446 0.231
6-10 years 2.45
11-15 years 2.33
16 years or more 2.03
Place of work University libraries 2.26 F¼0:524 0.758
College libraries 2.06
School libraries 1.57
Special libraries 2.21
Public libraries 2.26
Perceived internet use skills Novice 1.81 F¼10:294 0.000 *
Perceived ease of Web 2.0 use Easy 2.33 t¼3:080 0.002 *
Note: *Signiﬁcant at p,0:01
Differences in Web 2.0
use based on various
personal and professional
samples t-test and
people do not allow women to use it (Shaﬁque and Mahmood, 2009). In the case of
librarians, all can freely use new technologies on the internet.
No signiﬁcant difference was found in four groups based on the length of
professional experience. It also rejects the perception that the internet is a tool for
younger generation. All professional librarians were using this new technology on the
same pace. Place of work also do not have any effect on the use pattern of librarians.
Librarians of all types of libraries, who participated, were using Web 2.0 tools with the
A statistically signiﬁcant difference was found among groups based on the
perceived internet use skills of the participants of the study. A high difference
(F ¼10:294) was found between “experts” and other two groups. “Experts” were more
frequent users of these new technologies than the less skilled. This ﬁnding shows that
the level of expertise in the use of internet positively affects the use of innovative web
technologies among librarians.
Similarly, perceptions of the respondents regarding the ease of Web 2.0 use have a
signiﬁcant relationship with the frequency of use. The librarians who perceived Web
2.0 as “easy to use” were more frequent users than the others. It shows that the
self-efﬁcacy has a direct relationship with the use of technology as many studies have
A total of 88 respondents used the space for suggestions to improve the adoption of
Web 2.0 technologies among Pakistani librarians and libraries. They mentioned that
there was a lack of awareness about Web 2.0 technologies among library staff. Lack of
computer literacy, less availability of computers and internet facility are major
hindrances toward using Web 2.0 technologies in library setting. The library
professionals suggested that the training programs could bring revolutionary changes
in this area.
Conclusion and recommendations
The literature has provided evidence that Web 2.0 technologies are being used in
library setting all over the world. In Pakistan, no study regarding adoption of Web 2.0
technologies by librarians was conducted so far. The same situation persists in the
neighboring developing countries. In the present study, a majority of the respondents
were serving in the academic libraries. The respondents having excellent skills of
internet use were more inclined toward adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in the
libraries. Although all the library professionals were using the internet but 20 percent
of respondents were unable to use Web 2.0 technologies easily. The frequency of use
revealed that Pakistani librarians were generally less inclined toward adoption of Web
2.0 technologies. Lack of computer literacy, low availability of computers and internet
facilities were the big hindrances toward adoption of Web 2.0 technologies by
librarians. Training programs could enable a librarian to cope with the Web 2.0
The following recommendations can improve the quality and extent of Web 2.0
adoption in librarians of Pakistan:
.LIS professionals in the country should be made oriented with the usefulness of
Web 2.0 technologies in their professional as well as personal lives. Professional
library associations, library schools and employers can arrange seminars on this
Adoption of Web
.ICT infrastructure in the libraries should be upgraded. For this purpose, the
Higher Education Commission of Pakistan should improve existing ICT
infrastructure in university libraries. To improve infrastructure in college, public
and special libraries, additional budget should be provided by the federal,
provincial and local governments.
.Training programs on technical aspects and implementation of Web 2.0
technologies should be arranged. The role of library schools (for pre-service
training) and library associations (for in-service training) is vital in this regard. It
is suggested that the Higher Education Commission should provide foreign
training opportunities to LIS professionals.
.To explore the factors affecting the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in libraries
and librarians, a comprehensive study should be conducted on the country level.
Further studies should also be conducted on the use of individual technologies in
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Adoption of Web
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