This week, the [UK] government's Power of Information taskforce set out a list of 25 urgent actions for the public sector machine - from Downing Street to local councils and NHS organisations - to take to embrace social networking, blogging and other such phenomena.
Top of the list is a relaxation about civil servants accessing - gasp - social media at work. ... "Public sector workers cannot be expected to be up to date with the power of information to transform public services if they cannot access the internet at work," the report says.
Equipped with this access, public servants should as a matter of course engage with online peer support forums concerned with their areas of work. (It notes that some sites "clearly would not welcome such intervention".) Civil servants should also "innovate and co-create with citizens online".
Are government ministers allowed to use social media? - The Guardian - February 5, 2009
The report itself (in beta, open for comments for two weeks starting February 1, 2009) is available at https://poit.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/poit/
There are also some short videos on YouTube, as well as a blog that gives some information about the process of putting together the report, as well as links to their delicious bookmarks and other information.
The recommendations of the report in my reading overall are about using a combination of technology, open data (that is opening up government data to its owners, the public), and direct engagement with the public in order to more rapidly and more deeply engage citizens.
It would seem to me that libraries and librarians, as traditional points of interaction between the public and information, could play a useful role. I think advocating and supporting "opener access" is an important library role (one sometimes compromised by library acceptance of DRM or restrictive licensing terms).