the future of public library technology

boston public library tech central shortly after opening. dozens of patrons already sitting at and using computers Tech Central @ Boston Public Library (roughly 10 minutes after the ribbon was cut on July 9, 2016)

the future of public libraries, period

"[Librarians] are the keepers of the skill set and the knowledge we all need in order to successfully navigate the Internet."

- Cory Doctorow on the Circulating Ideas podcast

"[Libraries of things]... are truly serving a 'sharing economy' function by reducing our need to purchase things (or space). In many cases, they also provide education, training, and advice."

- 99 Percent Invisible, Libraries of Things (9/19/2016)

"The Future" = Now

photo of William Gibson alongside his quote: The future is already here. It just isn't evenly distributed.

libraries = equalizers

"People think libraries level of the playing field for those without vast resources."

- How the public grades libraries – and uses libraries (Lee Rainie, Pew Internet Project, 2016)

80 percent of pew survey respondents said they think libraries should offer programs and trainings on digital tools such as smartphones and computers

how do we equalize?

  • Training & education: from one-on-one instruction sessions to group classes to coding camps
  • Access to Internet/computers & emerging tech; space for collaboration, coworking, and tinkering
girls who code participants in class
(Girls Who Code participants @ DoSpace, Omaha, NE)

how do we equalize?

  • Building/advocating for digital literacy and information evaluation skills
  • Acting as "community information stewards," "monitors of algorithms," "master makers & teachers" (Rainie, 2016)

we can't be
all things
to all people

how do we focus?

  • Patron needs assessment
  • Community visioning, brainstorming, and feedback sessions; strategic planning
  • Design thinking / user experience design
brainstorming sessions with post-it notes and index cards led to community-driven feedback shaping the plan for renovating the Somerville Public Library's west branch Community visioning for the Somerville Public Library (West Branch) renovation

how do we focus?

Edge Assessment

Edge helps public libraries better serve their communities through improved public technology services. The Edge toolkit is based on a national set of benchmarks for public libraries to evaluate their technology services, and includes resources for strategic planning and community engagement.
Community Value Benchmarks 1 - 3: Libraries provide programs and services that enable people to get value from their use of technology. Engaging the Community. Benchmarks 4 - 6:
Libraries are a valuable community resource and a strategic partner in helping people and communities improve their quality of life.
Organizational Management. Benchmarks 7 - 11: Libraries manage resources so that members of the community who need or want access can get it regardless of ability, skill, personal technology, or available time.

crash course in UX

  • Designing services from the outside in
  • It's empathy all the way down
three questions for user experience designers: who are your users? what are they doing, or trying to do? how can you help?

how might we...

  • push content & events to patrons?
  • reach out & embed ourselves in the community?
  • leverage the new website & Minuteman app?
  • rethink physical space to better accommodate tech use?
  • help with digital & physical wayfinding?

how do we stay fresh?

  • Networking & professional development
  • Following and joining discussions - blogs, podcasts, trade magazines, social media, PR campaigns
  • Participating in local, state, and national conversations (and beyond)
pale blue dot

how do we stay fresh?

  • Pour all kinds of information into your brain
  • Follow tech news: The Verge, Recode, TechCrunch
  • Observe and think critically about service experiences everywhere, online and off
people trying out new phones and devices at tech stores (Emerging Technologies for Librarians: Keeping Up & Staying Fresh - Jennifer Koerber, 2016)

coworkers & colleagues need us, too

  • Teach the teacher/train the trainer
  • Communities of practice
  • How can we help libraries with less?

coworkers & colleagues need us, too

  • Focus on individual strengths & passions
  • Be supportive of ideas (yours & everyone else's)
  • Get comfortable with discomfort
yes and instead of yes but. think of something positive to say

We're stronger together

 Dream big

 Do what you can

 Share what you do

libraries transform trends. see for details Trends, Center for the Future of Libraries