New Library Directors Handbook

Planning and Evaluating Technology

We just covered planning for the entire library, but it is also helpful to plan for technology. Computers, copiers, etc. are often the most expensive items we have to purchase, which is why it's helpful to plan for technology. We think about evaluating our library services, staff, and ourselves but we don't always think about our equipment or our workflows. Sometimes we inherit a particular way of doing something without realizing that it's no longer necessary with the technology we have. The questions that follow cover both planning and evaluating:

  • What do you have? Inventory the number of computers you have for staff and the public. What types of software are on each of the computers? Do you have a copier? A fax machine? What type of Internet connection do you have?
  • Is it working correctly? Do you have computers that are acting up? What about your copier? If you are starting to experience problems with your technology, it may be time to replace it. Like a car, technology equipment needs regular maintenance and sometimes it needs to be replaced.
  • How are we using the technology? Are you using it effectively? Is there another place where it might be helpful? Are you getting the results you want? What would help you get those results? Do you need more training?
  • What do you need? Do customers have to wait and wait for a computer to open up? Maybe you need to purchase another one. Is the copier not working correctly? Think about your needs and the needs of your customers when answering this question.
  • When will you need it? If you plan effectively, you can implement a schedule for when to replace equipment or when to order new. This lets you match the money you spend with what you'll receive in a given year.
  • What obstacles will keep you from getting this technology? Money is usually the biggest, but you should consider others. Even if you have the money to purchase a new computer, you still need a place to put it, and sufficient bandwidth to connect it to the internet.