David King wrote two responses to Michael Stephen’s 2005 library tech predictions. The first one highlights the importance of user-centered technology planning and implementation. This is something that cannot be stressed enough. There are libraries that are completely adverse to change and to technology, and there are libraries that are so tech-forward that they pass their patrons by. Neither of these approaches is a good idea. Ask your patrons what they want; what they’d like to see at the library. Base your decisions about what technologies to implement on where your patrons are (and where your staff is) — not on what looks cool. Not every library should be implementing the same sort of technologies. It all should be based on your population’s needs.
The goal should be user-centered technology planning. If, for example, your library serves a hip urban community of teens who IM and SMS all over the place, by all means… figure out a way to incorporate that into your library’s planning! Even if your library has never done it before. Don’t let “Techno Avoidance” or “Techno Huh?” drive your library. Instead, find out what your users are wanting to do (or already doing frequently), and try to provide that.
This was something so often stressed in social work: you have to work from where your clients are. If they’re not ready to deal with certain issues, you can’t force them to. And if they want to talk about something that isn’t in your plan for the therapy session, let them. In libraries too, you can’t force technology on your patrons and you also shouldn’t hide from it. See where your patrons are and give them what they want or need. Thanks for reminding us, Dave!