Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sarah Houghton-Jan on Developing a Technology Plan

Image: Sarah Houghton-Jan by Bryan Loar

Yesterday I spent part of the day at OHIONET's annual meeting. The keynote speaker was Houghton-Jan, who was one of LJ's 2009 Movers & Shakers.

Sarah's presentation entitled "Sustainable Technology in a 2.0 World" focused on developing the right technology plan for one's organization.

Some highlights* include:
  • Users are much more ahead of the curb regarding wants and needs than librarians
  • Users (of San Jose's Public Library) want text messaging services and RSS feeds for everything
  • Get feedback from users, non-users, and staff through surveys, focus groups, etc.
  • Non-user opinions are very important in a world where libraries are not the first place users go to find information
  • When conducting interviews, don't ask what the library can do for them. Ask questions that hit on their daily needs
  • A great way to gather non-user feedback is conducting intercepts at grocery stores
  • Set up a technology hierarchy (think Maslow) based your local users and non-users wants and needs
  • Use technologies that fit your users needs, but don't try to implement too many new technologies at once--it will result in poor outcomes
Sara also covered quite a few other areas including project planning, staff training/buy-in, and marketing.

Finally, Sarah emphasized the "engagement of continuous learning environments." She stressed the importance of incorporating daily or weekly time to professional development, particularly within new technologies. I wholeheartedly agree. A good extension to this ideology is Peter Senge's Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.

*Note: The highlights primarily cover the user-centric parts of her presentation. Another resource that might be of interest is Char Booth's Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies at Ohio University which is also available as a free digital publication (as of May 7, 2009).

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