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Managing Library Technology: Planning for the Future Unit 6: Bibliographic Essay

Kimberlee Dewall Anne Gresham ILS 501 S70 Dr. Hak Joon Kim March 6, 2010

Kimberlee Dewall Anne Gresham Managing Library Technology ILS 501 S70 Introduction Whether public, private, or corporate, libraries are experiencing rapid changes as technology increasingly permeates their methodology and functionality. These technological changes affect all levels of librarianship, and management of new library resources and new expectations of staff must adapt accordingly. In this paper, we will discuss management of resources and staff in todays fluctuating technological environment. In the first section, we will use a systems development model to organize the discussion of resource management. In the second section, we will turn our attention to issues that arise in the intersection between staff and technology by focusing on barriers to learning, online learning alternatives, and changes in staff development practices. Section 1: Managing Resources Librarians may be called upon to manage public and staff hardware, software (including integrated library systems), networks, digital products such as commercially owned databases and other online services, and output such as websites and social networking. In short, managing library technology may initially feel like herding cats. Fortunately, several frameworks exist for organizing technology management. The work system life cycle, suggested by S. Alter (2008) is an example of such a framework. However, it should be noted that there are many other methodologies used by systems analysts, developers, and project managers that are equally adaptable to library technology purposes. Alters model is cyclical it begins with initiation, followed by development, implementation, and operation and maintenance. During the operation and maintenance phase, if a given resource no longer adequately meets the needs of the institution, the cycle moves back into initiation, and the process begins again. Phase I: Initiation - Making a Plan Alter (2008) describes initiation as an evaluation of goals, scope, and resources. For libraries, initiation begins with the drafting of a technology plan. Rachel Gordon (2003) writes, since technology is now so tightly interwoven with all library functions, planning for the future of technology means planning for the future of the library itself (p. 169). A good technology plan includes the following: a vision statement, background, goals and objectives, funding, training, and evaluation (Gordon, 2003). Technology advances rapidly, and the key to crafting a good technology plan lies in forming objectives and goals that will not only withstand the onslaught of new products and services, but will also allow librarians to make decisions based on the librarys needs rather than the perceived popularity of new services (Podolsky, 2003). At this stage, in addition to clearly defined institutional goals, it is necessary to evaluate existing resources, both technological and financial. Evans, Ward, and Rugaas (2000) observed that the life span of technology is growing increasingly short, while library budgets are not accommodating the necessary expenditures needed to keep pace. They suggest a rolling budget to accommodate necessary upgrades, migration, support and training. M. Breeding (2009) mentions trends toward open source software and shared resources within library consortia as possible means of working with limited budgets.

Kimberlee Dewall Anne Gresham Managing Library Technology ILS 501 S70 Phase II: Development - Finding/Creating the Right Resources In Alters model, development encompasses purchasing, licensing, and design of systems, as well as the research necessary to carry out each process. Librarians must make wise purchasing decisions regarding hardware, and must take into consideration the hidden costs lurking in maintenance, support, and staff training. Furthermore, most software and many digital services are provided not through purchasing, but instead through licensing. A license to use a product must be understood and negotiated by the librarian in order to ensure that the product fulfills the librarys goals (Ashmore & Grogg, 2009). In addition to cost, librarians must pay careful attention to patron privacy considerations when negotiating contracts with vendors (American Library Association, 2000). Librarians designing web sites or social services, such as Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds, must follow a similar evaluation process, as they must design these services for patron usability (Jasek, 2004). Particularly with library website design, standards compliance, privacy, and security (particularly with respect to online email forms) must also be considered. Phase III: Implementation - Putting Technology to Work During the implementation stage, librarians work to ensure that all goes smoothly through adequate testing and consistent deployment, whether they are rolling out a new website, a new ILS, new software, or new hardware. Librarians will need to be prepared for the headaches caused by data migration, resistance from both staff and users to new interfaces, and lengthy time commitments (Gordon, 2003). The importance of adequate testing and familiarization with a new technology cannot be stressed enough. Phase IV: Operation and Maintenance - Keeping Our Heads Above the Water Operation and maintenance is a critical stage of technology management; if this area is neglected, previous planning, research, and testing is worthless. Critical issues in this phase include security, upkeep, support, and evaluation. Culp (2000) writes, eternal vigilance is the price of security. Virus scans, testing, and continuing attention to developments in the nefarious world of security attacks is necessary to maintain a safe technological environment for both patrons and staff. This extends to public and staff machines, as well as stored patron and staff records (American Library Association, 2000). In addition to security, routine maintenance can greatly extend technologys lifespan. Basic tasks such as cleaning keyboards, defragmenting hard drives, changing printer cartridges, and downloading software updates should be performed by library staff, if at all possible (Gordon, 2003). When maintenance issues go beyond the reach of a librarian, the institution must have a tech support plan in place. Libraries rely on a variety of tech support systems. Bertot (2009) identifies seven broad categories of tech support: no tech support, internal library support without technology staff, internal library support with technology staff, library consortia, technology partners, city county or other agency IT support, and state library support (p. 86-

Kimberlee Dewall Anne Gresham Managing Library Technology ILS 501 S70 87). Regardless of a librarys tech support plan, it is vital that all staff understand the procedures for troubleshooting and reporting problems (Podolsky, 2003). Of course, during the operation and maintenance phase, it is important to constantly evaluate each piece of library technology in terms of its adherence to the librarys goals. If it should fail that evaluation, then the librarian must move into the initiation phase and start again by planning upgrades or even entirely new systems (Alter, 2008; Podolsky, 2003). Section 2: Managing Staff Development There can be no doubt that the need for professional development, continuing education, or workplace learning in regard to technology is vital for todays libraries. Never before have the professions tools undergone such extreme and rapid transformations, and these transformations are not about to cease, as illustrated in the various essays compiled in Core Technology Competencies for Librarians and Library Staff (Thompson, 2009). It is, therefore, incumbent upon library administration to develop, implement, encourage, and support policies on staff competency and development. It is, also, necessary for both professional librarians and paraprofessionals to--at the very least-- be proficient in the current trends of technology, if not embracing the changes by keeping pace with them. In short, with a little innovative leadership, learning options are endless, as well as accessible, userfriendly, and exciting. Barriers to Learning The graying of todays library is perhaps the most cited obstacle for staff development in technology. Long and Applegate (2008), for instance, provide statistical data that reveals the willingness to learn of library staff according to their generation. Many professional librarians who received their degrees prior to 1995, or before the study of computers in Library Science programs in the United States, understand the importance of keeping up with technology, yet a surprisingly large percentage of support staff is unwilling to adapt to the technical changes or to explore the possibilities that new technology brings. Time constraints are another barrier to staff development. Workers who are given the time to develop skills are more apt to do so. However, many employees say there is little time to complete their usual tasks, much less learn new skills, regardless of whether employers allow the time for it. One thing is clear and that is that management needs to understand their employees learning needs, as a number of investigations note the lack of managerial support in staff development (May, 2010). In fact, even professionals must often be self-motivated and seek out learning opportunities on their own (Varlejs, 2009). E-Learning, Webinars, and Learning 2.0 E-Learning, or learning delivered through electronic tools, is clearly the most popular form of staff development today (Mason and Van Noord, 2007). Both professionals and paraprofessionals may choose from a myriad of sources for such learning. Among the many options are webinars from WebJunction, OCLC, EbscoHost, and Gale Cengage Learning, to name a few. However, Learning 2.0 has not only gained considerable attention, but it has also been implemented, studied, and documented, thereby, raising its stature and effectiveness.

Kimberlee Dewall Anne Gresham Managing Library Technology ILS 501 S70 Developed by Helen Blowers and based on Web 2.0 technology, Learning 2.0 is an incentive-based model program for training library staff in new technologies. Students, who are self-directed, are asked to complete 23 Things, or online interactive projects on, for example, RSS feeds, flickr, wikis, podcasts, and LibraryThing (2008). Kingsley and Jensens paper on Learning 2.0s implementation at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rasmuson Library stands as the most comprehensive study to date of the freely shared model, illustrating the programs success rate and offering some concluding recommendations, such as making staff development mandatory (2009). Administration and Staff Development Not only are the tools with which library staff work changing, but so, too, are the philosophies and practices of management, especially in regard to staff competency and development. Mosley and Kaspar describe the challenges of hiring and retaining competent employees that can meet the ever-changing demands of library service (2008). They suggest that management needs to look to the future by reconsidering job descriptions and job postings by avoiding the use of traditional library wording. Management also must consider incentives when encouraging staff development. Incentives, such as the MP3s, PDAs, and laptops offered by Blowers pilot Learning 2.0 program at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, are not always possible, especially in the current economy. However, there are other methods of motivation. For instance, the University of Arizona Library restructured their monetary compensation, or wage, plans, which were based upon a traditional hierarchical scale (Ray, 2004). Their innovative and team-based pay-for-skill program rewards employees for developing advanced capabilities, along with the willingness to learn and take on more responsibility. Conclusion Managing library technology is, indeed, an overwhelming aspect of contemporary librarianship because of its perpetually changing nature. Using cyclical management methods, like Alters model, for library technology is essential because change is inherent in its foundation. Likewise, staff development must be an on-going practice that is not only encouraged by management, but included in library staffing policies. Our approach to technology is a mind-set: if we assume that change is inevitable, then planning for the future may be viewed as an exciting process, even for those who were not born digital.

Kimberlee Dewall Anne Gresham Managing Library Technology ILS 501 S70 Bibliography Alter, Steven (2008). Service System Fundamentals: Work System, Value Chain, and Life Cycle. IBM Systems Journal, 47 (1). 71-85. American Library Association (2000). ALA Task Force on Privacy and Confidentiality in the Electronic Environment. Retrieved from Ashmore, Beth & Grogg, Jill E. (2009) . The Art of the Deal: Negotiation Advice from Library Leaders and Vendors. The Searcher, 17 (1). 18-25. Bertot, John Carlo (2009). Public Access Technologies in Public Libraries: Effects and Implications. Information Technology & Libraries, 28 (2). 81-92. Blowers, Helen. Learning 2.0: 23 Things You Can Do to Become Web 2.0 Savvy. PLCMC Learning 2.0. Retrieved from Breeding, Marshall (2009). Library Automation in a Difficult Economy. Computers in Libraries, 29 (3). 22-24. Culp, Scott (2000). 10 Immutable Laws of Security Administration. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved from Evans, G. Edward, Ward, Patricia Layzell, & Rugaas, Bendik (2000). Management Basics for Information Professionals. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc. Gordon, Rachel Singer (2003). The Accidental Systems Librarian. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc. Jasek, Chris (2004). How to Design Library Websites to Maximize Usability [pamphlet]. San Diego, CA: Library Connect. Kingsley, Ilana, and Karen Jensen (2009). Learning 2.0: A Tool for Staff Training at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rasmuson Library. Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship. 10 (1). Retrieved from Long, Chris Evin, and Rachel Applegate (2008). Bridging the Gap in Digital Library Continuing Education: How Librarians Who Were Not Born Digital Are Keeping Up. Library Administration & Management, 22 (4). 172-182. Mason, Marilyn Gell, and Richard Van Noord (2007). E-Learning: One Path to Leadership Development. Continuing Professional Development: Pathways to Leadership in the Library & Information World. Munchen: K.G. Saur. May, Jeff (2010). Design Learner Success Into Your Curriculum. eLearning Magazine. Mar. 2, Accessed 02.0310.

Kimberlee Dewall Anne Gresham Managing Library Technology ILS 501 S70 Mosley, Pixie Anne, and Wendi Arant Kaspar (2008). Making the Good Hire: Updating Hiring Practices for the Contemporary Multigenerational Workforce, Part One. Library Administration & Management. 22 (2). ABI/inform Trade & Industry. 92-99. Podolsky, Joni (2003). Wired for Good: Strategic Technology Planning for Nonprofits. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Ray, Michael (2004). Rewarding Strategic Learning and Performance: The Experience at the University of Arizona. Library Administration & Management. 18 (3). ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry. 124-133. Thompson, Susan M., ed. (2009). Core Technology and Competencies for Librarians and Library Staff: a LITA Guide. NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers. Varlejs, Jana (2009). Still Nobodys Baby? Library Leadership & Management, 23, (3). 122-128.