Scenario A–High Tech and Teaming with Energy

At the focus groups for the library’s strategic planning process, participants were given two scenarios to get discussion started.   These scenarios are not indicative of any plans that the library has, but rather are meant to stimulate discussion about what the community wants in libraries.    This is the first of two scenarios:

This Library is contemporary and high-tech. While the Library has a good but small offering of books, customers who use this Library appreciate the focus on computers, prefer to find information online, and like the ease of being able to check-out their own books. Many customers who check out books at this location have books delivered here from other, more book rich, locations.

The books on hand are generally best sellers or new releases. This Library has an impressive selection of books on DVD, downloadable books, movies, and music.

This Library at first glance might look more like a computer lab or Apple Store. Screens are everywhere, showing directions, stock tickers, or program information. And there are lots of computers for the customers use as Libraries are one of the few places the public can access the internet for free. Most of the space is designed to maximize the number and configuration of computers.

Students use the computers to do social networking, gaming, downloading music and movies, and homework. Job seekers are using the computers to create and send resumes. Seniors are checking their email or downloading pictures from their cameras. The high tech and contemporary feel of this Library encourages more conversation and volume. Sometimes, pleasant background music is played to enhance the contemporary feel.

This Library promotes technology literacy and embraces the trends that show that many people do research and information gathering online, not in a Library’s reference section. To ensure that their customers understand how to best access good information, this Library offers free technology classes. Customers whose computer knowledge is basic or advanced believe that this Library’s classes provide a valuable and unique community service.

This Library’s staff are both information and technology experts. They can answer questions about email and how to find information online. They are quick to give suggestions about new online websites that are useful. They gladly invest time to teach customers learning technology new skills. They regularly show customers how to go online to the Library’s website to use the Library from their home computer.

Often, customers bring in their own computers to access the Library’s wireless network. All of the Library’s staff can assist customers who want to use this service.

This Library often appeals to a customer who has never used a Library before and believes that a Library is uptight, old fashioned, and intimidating. This high-tech Library draws you in and makes you want to come back.

Questions:

1. In your opinion, what is likely or desirable in this possible scenario for the library’s future?

2. What is unlikely or undesirable?

3. What is missing that is important to the way the library serves the community in the future?

4. What kinds of impact would this scenario have on things like:

  • Buildings/facilities/operations
  • Renovations of existing libraries
  • Library collections (books, DVDs, magazines, music, etc.)
  • Library services and programs
  • Library staffing
  • Opportunities for volunteers
  • Technology
  • Limited resources (budget)
  • Community partnerships
  • Library policies
  • Community meeting spaces
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