By Meredith Farkas | January 5, 2005
As a former social worker/psychotherapist, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a very familiar concept to me. People must fulfill their basic material needs before they can start thinking about things like self-actualization and intellectual fulfillment. I worked with families who could barely keep their electricity on and get the children to school, and I always found that what they needed was concrete strategies to make their situation better and case management — not therapy, per se. You don’t want to talk about your feelings when you’re worrying about how to feed your children. Now Aaron at Walking Paper has redesigned Maslow’s hierarchy for the implementation of computer technologies in libraries. It makes perfect sense. You need to make sure you teach your patrons about technology and get them excited about it before inundating them with virtual reference and wifi. You need to make sure that you have the technology infrastructure and your patrons have the education and interest necessary to do some of the higher order things. You shouldn’t be paying for wifi when you don’t have enough public access terminals. Libraries need to take baby steps into technology. The Librarian in Black also brought up a valid comment on Aaron’s blog: “where does ‘staff technology competency’ fall into all this?” This is another excellent point and one that is too often ignored. Often, new technologies are foisted on library staff who are not educated properly about it. When this happens, the new technology will not be well-maintained by the staff and the staff will not encourage patrons to use it. So at that bottom level with patron computer education should be staff computer education. And probably by the second level, the staff should be able to be pretty technologically self-sufficient (in terms of fixing printers themselves, knowing how all the tech stuff in the library works, etc.). For the higher levels, the staff should be up on current info tech trends and should understand the possibilities that technology has for improving services to their patrons. If the librarians are not excited about new technologies, they may doom them to failure. Great ideas Aaron and Sarah!