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Jennifer R. Nelson's picture

Technology Skills for 21st Century Librarians

 As part of an IMLS-funded Nation of Leaders Demonstraton grant, the Media MashUp project is looking at issues related to how public libraries implement programs based on technology. In brief, Media MashUp brings to a set of public libraries across the country a set of innovative technology programming for youth. The programs are based in Scratch, a freely available software for rich media content creation, that was created and is supported by MIT Media Labs. One aspect of the project takes a look at the skills youth get out of participation. The other aspect of the project looks at what it takes for a library to offer such a program: technology, staff skills, marketing, and more. 

Librarian participants in the project completed an extensive Techno-Bio survey that asked detailed questions about their use of a range of technology tools and software - from cell phones to digital cameras to video conferencing. An interesting portrait of librarians emerged from an analysis of the surveys. While the sample size is too small  to make broad statements about all librarians, there are some interesting findings. The complete report will be posted in the next week or so, but in the meantime give some thought to what technology you use and check out some of these interesting tidbits:

  •  Film and Tape as recording media are dead. No one uses a non digital cameras or audio recorders any more. Video recorders that use tape still have some purchase.
  •  Word (or another word processing software) are by far the most used; spreadsheets are used at a much lower rate, as is presentation programs like PowerPoint and database programs.
  •  Web page and other graphic design skills are highly valued as a skill and need, but few are supported in using it related to work.
  •  The major barrier to adoption of new technology (gadgets) is cost. The major barrier to adoption of new software and developing skills is time.  
  • Personal interest in a technology, software or outcome drives learning and involvement with the technology.
  •  Despite the buzz about social networking, Twitter, Facebook and the like, few use these tools as part of their job or everyday life. 
  • We all use the internet everyday for personal and professional purposes

 And the most interesting news? Despite our collective insecurities and doubts, time and budget constraints, age and experience, we all recognize the importance of offering programs to our users that incorporate these very tools and software. Further, we are becoming comfortable with the idea that we don't have to have all the knowledge ourselves. We see our colleagues, our community partners and especially our youth as resources for helping us get where we need to be.  And based on my 20+ years as a public librarian, this is ground-shaking news. 

What's your experience? It would be great to hear from all of you about how you use technology to do your job, and what you'd like to see your patrons get from using technology in the library. What problems do you face? What issues get in your way when you want to do something a little different? 

 

Mary Metcalf (non-member)'s picture

We have a volunteer who is a skilled computer hardware person who is wonderful - updating all PC's to Windows 7, researched and adding Drive Vaccine to all etc. We'd be lost without him.

As a small, rural librarian the problems are 1) finding out what patrons need, 2) having the skills and equipment to meet that need and 3) finding the time to do it.

We're doing it in small steps. We'll be putting in a 42" monitor and PC to do slideshows on about library and local events. With that, we hope to offer classes on how to share your pictures with others.

One big problem now is getting more information.

Mary
Mary Metcalf
Librarian
Greensboro Free Library
53 Wilson Street
Greensboro, VT 05841