Social Library Issues

Can Technology Save the Economy?

America needs to get back to investing in technology again. It has been a struggle for many US libraries to improve their environments and adapt to new technology.   Since 1996, there has been a dramatic change in the way libraries function.  We have seen overseas projects try to catch up to the high levels of library services in the US.  They are waking up to the fact that:

  • Libraries provide a vast power of sustainable energy.  People grow up in the library building.
  • They allow resources to be shared.  Book, Collection or User Seat.
  • Their patrons use library acquisitions for advancement.  Newer items are used more.

It is important for Library Buildings to keep modernizing.  They need to add learning spaces to increase the output.  MIT’s Technology Review states  “Innovation in science and technology is estimated to account for as much as 90% of new economic growth.  The reason is that better technology allows more things to be produced more cheaply and can create entirely new markets; in the terminology of economists, it increases productivity.  For economists, the most dramatic recent example is the information technology boom that began in the mid-1990’s.” – Rotman, David, “Can Technology Save The Economy?” Technology Review, June 2009.

During the 1990’s, libraries changed their services.  They started automating their catalogs and sharing information.  This was a great time to be an innovator.  Communities could share by being part of the “web.” In many ways, library buildings started networking information long ago.  But when catalogs were automated and reserve services created, more digitally enabled services could take off.

We need to remember that library buildings need to change and take advantage of technology.  We have provided specifications for automated sorting systems, digitization projects and digital asset management systems.  More and more they seem to be a part of the service mix.

To start your library plan moving forward:

  • Make your library building a vehicle for a large-scale culture change.
  • Create a shared-vision organization.
  • Look for ways to increase broadband services and get that stimulus money.