Integration of Technology in Services
A library defined as
a 21st Century Technology Leader has successfully--and extensively--
integrated technology into its services. It creates and implements a variety
of technology tools to expand and provide services. Library users, for
example, have numerous options for searching, evaluating, editing, organizing,
and sharing information. A library that is a technology leader considers
the user to be an active player in service provision. Thus, opportunities
for electronic communication through social networking and interactive
technologies with other library users and with the library staff are not
only provided but also promoted. The library also recognizes its
instructional role within the community it serves. This role
has the potential for far-reaching impact by increasing awareness
among library users about critical technology skills and providing
instruction to build these skills. Within its service community,
the library can play a unique role by assisting patrons in
becoming more fluent information users and creators of content.
- Libraries create, utilize, and provide diverse tools and
services to assist patrons in locating information.
- Libraries provide instruction on how to locate, evaluate,
and use information resources.
Technology Applications for Collections
As libraries increasingly
build their collections of electronic resources, issues of
access (versus ownership) move to the forefront. Library users not only
expect extensive access to the library’s databases and a variety
of digital materials, they anticipate the ability to search and retrieve
the information resources of other libraries as well. 21st Century
Technology Leaders not only pay attention to the resources maintained
within the physical walls of their libraries, they are also attuned
to the realities of a user population familiar with and influenced
by the features of such popular web sources as Amazon and Google.
In fact, a 21st Century Technology Leader is likely to find itself
in the role of content creation. Library podcasts, wikis, and digital
repositories are examples of the types of content creation emerging
from innovative libraries. A 21st Century Technology Leader is also
aware of the user’s preference for tagging, bookmarking and
adding comments to content and these libraries provide various
means for patrons to develop customized collections. In sum, technology
applications for collections in the library of a 21st Century
Technology Leader require a commitment to multiple means of access
to content and flexible content management options.
- Libraries acquire and provide information in a variety
- Libraries create original content to meet the needs and
interests of their user communities.
- Libraries organize information resource for effective and
efficient access and retrieval.
Management of Technology Infrastructure
A robust and well integrated technology infrastructure is another
defining characteristic of a library that is a 21st Century
Technology Leader. While the technology adoptions by many libraries tend
to be add-ons or applied in a piecemeal fashion, the technology applications
introduced by a 21st Century Technology Leader emerge from
technology planning that is an integral part of the library’s overall
strategic planning. Technology planning is ongoing in that the results
of needs assessment and evaluation are continuously fed into the
development of goals and initiatives. Technology upgrades and replacements
are planned, rather than dealt with on an “as-needed” basis.
It is assumed that the library’s hardware, software, and telecommunications
network should be developed to keep pace with the requirements of
new technology applications. In this way, technology planning and
management are proactive versus reactive. Likewise, computer and
network security is in place to ensure smooth and secure interactions
and routing within the technology infrastructure. For some libraries,
aspects of technology administration may be handled through contracted
services (e.g., web hosting) to leverage the library’s capacity
for technology innovation.
A robust and well managed technology infrastructure also means
that library transactions appear integrated and responsive to the library
user. For example, the interface between the online catalog, acquisitions,
serials, and circulation modules run uninterrupted or unhindered by
network traffic throughout the day. Access to information resources,
as well as search and retrieval capabilities, is available seamlessly
to library users within the library and from remote locations.
- Libraries practice effective management of their technology
infrastructure (i.e., hardware and software, telecommunications,
Strategic Planning and Leadership
Libraries that are 21st Century
Technology Leaders are proactive and strategic in their planning.
Attention to the potential role of technology permeates all
aspects of their needs assessment, planning, and evaluation. The ubiquitous
presence of technology throughout society prompts 21st Century
Technology Leaders to conduct environmental scans on a regular basis to
identify technology innovations and consider their application to services
and collections. Library policies and procedures are frequently
reviewed and updated to reflect emerging issues related to the complex
social milieu of a technological society. Likewise, active involvement
in the library user community provides a means to assess specific needs
and interests. Library staff participation in community initiatives
also creates opportunities for promoting the library’s services
and resources, particularly through the development of collaborative
projects and partnerships.
Most libraries are affected by the unpredictable funding levels
of local, state, and national fiscal sources, and innovation requires
new sources as well as collaborative approaches to support technology
initiatives. Stable funding for technology is essential and has become
a defining feature of a library that is a technology leader. Toward
this end, advocacy efforts on behalf of the library, and for library
issues in general are considered to be an integral aspect of strategic
planning. Regular communication with library stakeholders helps to
ensure that decision makers understand the important role and function
of the library in their user community.
In addition, libraries that are technology leaders in their communities
focus on outcomes in their planning and evaluation process. As
these libraries prepare service, program, and collection goals, they
consider the difference that a library’s initiative may have
on the lives of users in their community. While such output measures
as the number of participants at a technology training workshop or
the number of books circulated are still important aspects of library
evaluation, more emphasis is placed on such considerations as the impact
of these efforts on literacy rates in the community or the success
of small businesses using technology applications and digital resources.
In sum, 21st Century Technology Leaders approach library planning strategically
by focusing on targeted goals and outcomes for the community
they serve. As a result, the library assumes a leadership role within
its user community. Stakeholders consider the library to be an innovative
and constructive influence in the community.
- Libraries practice effective
technology planning and evaluation.
- Libraries implement effective
public relations, promotions, and advocacy.
Human Resource Development
accomplish the goals initiated by 21st Century Technology Leaders,
libraries must view human resource development as ongoing and
central to their efforts. It is a proactive and creative staff
that often marks a library that has become a successful technology
leader within its community of users. Staff positions in these
libraries are carefully aligned with library goals to ensure
that all staff members have the competencies needed to accomplish the
goals set. When a library position is vacated, for example,
the position is not automatically filled. Instead, the position responsibilities
and the required competencies are reviewed to determine if
technology skills should be updated or added. It is rare for a staff position
not to require technology competencies at some level of proficiency
in a library that is a 21st Century Technology Leader. Performance
appraisals are closely tied to staff development which promotes
continuous learning in relation to technology competencies.
In addition, the library provides the funding and release time for
staff to attend workshops and training events, be active in professional
associations, and participate in conferences. A 21st Century
Technology Leader recognizes the close connection between professional
involvement and an awareness of library innovations and best
practices. The library’s
overall organizational culture is grounded in substantive human
resource development efforts that encourage and support creative thinking,
risk-taking, and library innovation.
- The library's human resources are a strategic component
in the success of a networked library.