Monday, November 27, 2006

Santa or Scrooge?

I am very proud that our library has not been timid about exploring emerging library technologies; but I can not take credit for any of our technological accomplishments. It is not that I am anti-technology; it is that like many other library directors I find myself in the role of "Scrooge" far more often than "Santa."

A big part of my job is dealing with numbers: budgets, statistics, demographics, costs... (yawn). When a tech savvy staffer comes up with some cool new thing that he/she thinks we should try my Scrooge like reaction is to ask, "How much does this cost? Who is going to do/maintain this? What impact is this going to have on our Library?" I do manage to refrain from asking them if they want the WHOLE day off to celebrate Christmas.

Many libraries will blame cost, and/or staff limitations for not implementing new technologies. But I think the real reason is that it is almost impossible to measure the impact these cool new techy things will have on the Library. Most emerging technologies were not designed with libraries in mind; getting accurate user stats is somewhat difficult. If the Director knew and could give hard numbers to the library board that this new fangled-thingamajig was going to be more popular than story hour, I bet the library would find the money and the staff. Even without hard data, the Kankakee Public Library's motto is, "Informing, Enriching, and Empowering." When we implement new technologies that is exactly what we are doing.

Cindy Fuerst
Library Director


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would add that you also run into people who see a new fangled technology on TV, in a magazine or at some tech show that looks really great and they want to implement it NOW!

The problem is that it might not have a real "use" for their environment. Having a network enabled espresso machine is WAY COOL, but does it serve any purpose other than the "coolness" factor? (and getting you wired enough to make it through another day at the job?)

You really have to look at technology as a tool to make your existing processes easier or enhance them in some way that will make things better for your staff and customers...not find a technology and try to find something to do with it, spending more money and time (and money).

November 27, 2006 11:36 AM  
Blogger Lions-Online said...

Ooooh, if we could get a network enabled espress machine...I would never go home! ;-)


December 04, 2006 8:42 AM  

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