Competency H

Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies

Introduction

Identifying

There’s no doubt that the rate of technological change is faster than ever and it appears it will only increase with time. Keeping up with new technologies can seem daunting as a result. There are ways, however, of staying abreast of new innovations. Doing so has enormous benefits, the greatest of which is maintaining relevance in a world that sometimes seems to believe that libraries are a dying breed. Fortunately, there are lots of resources to help professionals in anticipating emerging information and communication technologies.

Many of these methods in keeping up require almost no effort on the part of the professional seeking the information. Vendors of emerging products may advertise to potential or existing customers with information about new technologies. While some of these advertisements may automatically go in the trash for some professionals, opting to consciously and purposefully look at them instead can give the viewer an idea of what is up-and-coming.

Journals and magazines relating to the profession are also a likely place to find information on emerging technologies. Some such journals and magazines come with a subscription to a professional membership, such as the American Library Association’s publication American Libraries (American Libraries, 2016). While the articles may not all be focused on emerging technologies for libraries, features on new technology are not uncommon and many articles will reference new products without the product being the focus of the article.

Similarly, media produced throughout the world can be a great lead for this type of content. While library-focused materials will be more likely to show in-library application of new technology, other sources can still provide excellent and relevant information. Regularly checking technology-focused websites can bring new technology to the attention of a librarian. One fantastic resource for this is the blog website Lifehacker (2016). Wired (2016) and TechCrunch (2016) are two additional options. All of these sites and more offer the most up-to-date information on technology. Some, like Wired, also produce print editions of their material.

Communities of colleagues, whether online or in-person can be yet another fantastic resource. Facebook groups, such as ALA Think Tank (2016) may not focus on emerging technologies, but give a large platform for librarians to discuss new options in the information and communications technology landscape, ask for recommendations to solve particular problems, and ask for evaluative feedback on a product. A less concentrated version of this might be the use of hashtags on sites such as Twitter, where conversation about emerging technologies may go on infinitely. Meanwhile, in-person events, such as the annual ALA conference can provide a similar, if condensed, experience.

Finally, many professionals rely on publications such as the New Media Consortium’s annual Horizon Report, which is designed specifically to expose emerging technologies to the market (2015). The Consortium describes this report as, “…annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education.”

Using

Implementing new technologies begins first with selecting identified technologies for a library. To do so effectively, the selector must have a solid understanding of the community which they serve as well as that community’s needs and abilities. Once the needs and abilities have been determined and a suitable technology located, the selector should request a trial with the technology. Many vendors are willing to give potential customers trials with their products so the customers can have a better understanding of the product prior to committing to spending a significant amount of money on it.

Another effective way of using new technology is to ask other professionals in the field how they are using the same technology. There may be applications of the technology that is not immediately evident. Discussion around it will reveal additional uses that could increase the value of a product.

If the library finds the product is something they want to include in their collection and they have obtained the product, the next step is to train staff to use and instruct on its use to patrons. Following this, reveal to patrons – if the item is intended for patron use (there may be some technology appropriate for facilitating work among staff, but not necessarily useful for patrons) – comes next. This may be through whatever marketing strategy the library deems appropriate for its user base.

The actual act of using the technology will depend, of course, on the technology itself. While some technology may be intuitive and easy to figure out, other technology may require tutorials for patrons who wish to use it.

Evaluation

Once the technology has been implemented and used, evaluation is a great step toward maintaining library relevance in the community. Standard evaluation methods like SWOT can help libraries gauge the usefulness of a given technology and help to determine when the technology has become obsolete. Continued discussion with other professionals using the technology and newer versions or generations of the technology can provide additional context and information for these evaluations.

Patron input is another important way to determine the value of a product. This feedback may be obtained formally through surveys or informally through collecting comments made by users. In general, usage statistics should be kept automatically or manually. If a technology is not being used, the reason why should be investigated. Is it simply not relevant to the community’s needs? Is it that the technology is too confusing for potential users? This kind of evaluation is essential to working out adjustments or replacements.

Evidence

LIBR 203 Collaborate Assignment

This brief assignment describes two different methods of starting a Collaborate session to hold a conference through the Blackboard Collaborate software. These explanations especially support the use of emerging communication technologies and therefore presents sufficient evidence of demonstration of Competency H.

 

 

INFO 210 Mini-Activity 5

In a series of answers to questions posed by the instructor, this assignment examines various information systems through several lenses. The first answer discusses the various searching methods available in the ProQuest database and compares those methods and their outcomes. Using various search terms and information retrieval systems, answer two describes the search for information on the petrel bird. Answer three describes a piece of technology that is both informational and communicational in nature, Yahoo Answers. The fourth answer demonstrates the ability to contact a member of Congress. Finally, the fifth answer discusses the use of Snopes to determine if a given statement is true or false. By demonstrating the use and understanding of these various technologies, this assignment shows mastery of Competency H.

 

Conclusion

Technology is a vast and rapidly expanding field. So much of it can be used for good in libraries, but with limited budgets and time, libraries must make educated decisions about including new products in their collections. Keeping on top of the latest technological trends can help selectors make good choices that will serve the community well. There are plenty of options to get additional information about using a product without committing to its purchase. Constant and vigilant evaluation of the product will ensure a progressive and service-oriented relationship between the library’s technology and its user base. Overall, including technology is a wonderful way to increase library relevance and maintain high regard for the library for years to come.

References

ALA Think Tank. (2016). In Facebook [Group]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/groups/ALAthinkTANK/

American Libraries. (2016). American libraries. Retrieved from http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/

Lifehacker. (2016). Lifehacker. Retrieved from http://lifehacker.com/

New Media Consortium. (2015). NMC horizon report. Retreived from http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-higher-education-edition/

TechCrunch. (2016). TechCrunch. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/

Wired. (2016). Wired. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/