future information technologies


The speed at which technology evolves is staggering.  The impact reaches deep into societies on local, national and global scales.  The digital divide suggests that lack of technology integration and access is a threat to education and wellbeing.  Acquisitions of new technologies might improve function and services, but they also increase the workload through implementation, training, and infrastructure, including reliable networks, systems, servers and databases.  These resources are costly on many levels.

Innovation for the sake of the new and titillating is not beneficial.  Potential investments should be researched and evaluated from various viewpoints for the significant contributions possible to the library environment and service (Allen, 2012).  Best practices should be employed to effectively and successfully implement a new information tool, and to clarify the purpose and goals it serves (Evans & Layzell, 2007).  Yet, if a technology is widely used, libraries should examine how it can be used to promote information literacies.  With the projected increase usage of mobile services (Rieger, 2012), it behooves the library and information community to protect the investment of their online presence by ensuring it supports and is accessible by mobile devices.

Modern technologies are tools to promote information creation, dissemination, access and management.  The key to doing so in a productive and successful way is to create a plan.  The 5 year rolling strategic plan that Evans & Layzell (2007) mention provides structure while also allowing flexibility to deal with a rapidly changing commodity, and delineates the essential goals from the extra to control expenditures.

Webscale services dubbed “big data” implies the impact that technologies have on manual records and metadata management (Dempsey, 2012) across agencies and disciplines.  The integration of archives, libraries and museums as information centers will impact not only the physical use of space and technology; it has a significant influence on record management, especially in the digital environment, to increase interoperability between systems using shared standards and protocols.  Consensus is not easily reached, but the advantages of the ideas that spin off of each new innovation synergize the creation of technologies that will be useful and valuable to library and information services in the future.

The increased focus on literacies beyond the traditional (Hill, 2012), specifically digital literacy, which is in the process of being defined (Newman, 2012), will continue to impact the purpose and function of libraries in our communities.  School libraries are becoming increasingly involved in teaching multi-literacies via the Common Core (Hill, 2012).  There is an increased need to find, organize and discern valid information.  This often involves a knowledgeable librarian who has experience with a variety of technologies and modes of finding information.

The physical library will also transform as information technologies change and influence the purpose of space.  These include the use of the actual space, function, display and organization to improve access to information services.  Library space, as community space, is incorporated into the architecture of the physical libraries and the innovative, sustainable and transformative usage of that space is significant.

Various issues, including transparency, open source, privacy and digital rights, influence collaboration between vested parties, even across the disciplines, and impact them in unknown ways.  Yet, the number one priority of technology in libraries is improved information management and access for internal and external stakeholders and that will be the guiding principle behind long lived tech inventions adopted in the library context.

When people ask me about the future of libraries, I don’t even acknowledge the implied suggestion that libraries are obsolete.  Instead, I say: “Information has been important to humans from the beginning; we’ve recorded it on cave walls, baked clay, papyrus and today we still have books and other mediums used to store and access information; but it’s still information…and it still needs to be organized and shared.”

“Information delivery still requires a human intervention.” (Evans & Ward, 2007, p. 458)

Allen, F. (2012). Why great innovations fail: It’s all in the ecosystem. Retrieved from http://www.intelligentcommunity.org/index.php?src=news&refno=696&wpos=5000,5000,7460

Dempsey, L. (2012). Big data .. big trend. Retrieved from http://orweblog.oclc.org/archives/002196.html

Evans, G. E., & Layzell, W. P. (2007). Management basics for information professionals. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Hill, R. (2012). All Aboard!: Implementing Common Core offers school librarians an opportunity to take the lead. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/printissue/currentissue/893928-427/all_aboard_implementing_common_core.html.csp

Newman, B. (2012). The definition of digital literacy. Retrieved from http://librarianbyday.net/2012/04/03/the-definition-of-digital-literacy/

Rieger, S. (2012). The Best Browser is the One You Have with You. Retrieved from http://www.alistapart.com/articles/the-best-browser-is-the-one-you-have-with-you/

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