Key Factors in Technology Planning
There are five factors critical to effective library technology planning and implementation. They are
1) Support of library staff, including its management and Trustees
No planning effort will succeed without the full support and commitment of all library staff and management. This commitment should be made before starting a technology planning process.
2) Direct involvement by other parties
The development of a technology plan should be undertaken not by library staff alone but with active participation by the library's trustees and the involvement of other parties such as the local schools, Library Friends, the municipal/county IT department and/or the library system.
3) Service-based technology goals and initiatives
A key factor in the use of any library technology is a realization that technology is not an end in itself but a means to an end. Technology must be viewed as a vehicle to offer more efficient and effective delivery of current services and to add new services, such as digital literacy to help carry out the mission of the library.
4) Staff development
Too often, emphasis is placed on the hardware and software aspects of technology at the expense of staff training and in-servicing needed to help ensure proper and effective use of technology. Without a firm commitment to initial and continued staff development, the benefits of technology and digital literacy will not be fully realized.
5) Identification of funding and development of a budget
Any technology plan must address the need for funds to implement the plan. Funds must be budgeted annually to maintain existing technology, to update or replace obsolete technology on a regularly scheduled basis, and to provide necessary staff support. Budgets should still be planned, even if the funding is not currently available.
I. Technology Plan Outline
Below is a basic template for a library technology plan. Obviously, technology plans can be developed in many different formats. The topical areas listed below are designed to ensure that you cover all necessary areas. How these areas are addressed in your plan and their actual placement in the plan is a local decision. In other words, the areas listed below can be "mixed and matched" and reordered to meet local needs and circumstances.
This section is designed to provide general information on the library, its services, and its overall mission. Include an explanation of how the technology plan was developed, who was involved in the process, and what process will be used to review and update the plan as needed. ARIS, state-aid stats available.
Describe how technology assists staff to carryout the library's mission and improve library services. This statement is often no more than three or four sentences. The vision should reflect the realization that technology is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Example: providing better reference services to local businesses or organizations by offering access to business-related databases.
Address the issue of how the library plans to use technology to help accomplish its goals and mission in future years. In other words, be certain to incorporate some type of "vision" in the vision statement. Accessible and adaptive technologies to reach as many patrons as possible can be addressed here. While forecasting technology trends even one or two years into the future is difficult, it is still helpful to develop a broad, general vision on the use of technology in the future.
If your technology plan is more than 4-6 pages, develop a summary highlighting major goals or initiatives. If there is no summary, there should be some area of the plan, generally the vision statement or the goals/implementation section, where the major goals are outlined. (Depending on the level of detail and length of the plan, the Executive Summary can be incorporated into the Introduction/Overview section.)
Background and current state of technology
Provide an overview on how long technology has been used in the library. This can be done from a chronological perspective and, if necessary, further divided into service areas. This area should list major software/hardware or service purchases and upgrades. Include any cooperative efforts involving technology with neighboring libraries, schools, local units of government, local colleges/universities and any other parties.
As a follow-up to the background section, describe what technologies are currently being used and the current technology environment (e.g., hardware/software, LANs/WANs, automated systems, telecommunications, Internet, reference databases). The plan should address the following:
Action steps: Technology goals and objectives
Goals are statements outlining the anticipated achievement of various services. Goals and objectives serve as the "action" part of the plan and provide the framework for what will be accomplished in a given period of time.
List the major goals or activities for the library that will be accomplished through the use of technology. This list should cover a three year time frame. Place the goals in priority order. If there are many of them, subsort them by function or service area. Most often specific objectives are listed under each goal and serve as a measurable means to help accomplish the goal. Goals and objectives can include maintaining or enhancing current services or implementing new services. The use of technology may be part of a broader goal. For example, a goal to make the collection more accessible may include implementing an e-book collection. Other goals are more purely technology oriented. Example: upgrading all PCs to Windows 7.0.
Objectives are the specific implementation processes that are needed to accomplish the goals. This is the most specific part of the technology plan. In developing objectives some of the specific activities include the need to:
Evaluating the technology plan
Some type of plan evaluation process is necessary to insure that the goals and objectives and other facets of the technology plan are actually implemented. This is best done on a regular basis (at least three times annually) at staff meetings and meetings with the library board.
One of the easiest ways to evaluate the technology plan is to tie the evaluation process with the time line or priority list established in the goals and objectives section. For example, an objective may be to replace dumb terminals with PCs in the first six months of a given year. From an evaluation process, a quick review after the six month period will yield a simple "yes" or "no" answer. More complex evaluations may require the need to collect and analyze statistics in certain functional areas or conduct focused surveys.
Plan appendices – supporting Documents
Attach any documents related to technology. For example, handouts used to assist patrons on how to use a particular product or program. A copy of your library inventory could be attached here.