Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Looking into the Online Crystal Ball

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Looking into the Online Crystal Ball

Article excerpt

As I've said before in this column, I've never considered myself to be a visionary. I try to keep up on the latest trends in information technology, but I still hesitate to make any predictions for the future. When I have to update my library's technology plan, I sit at my keyboard, fingers poised above the keys, trying to picture my library in the years ahead. I envision myself looking into a crystal ball, and I see librarians and patrons searching for information, but the technologies they are using are fuzzy and undefined. Sometimes I've wished I really had a crystal ball that would clearly show me the future for my library. I'm sure I'm not the only one that struggles when writing technology planning documents, especially since libraries wishing to apply for E-rate discounts must submit a technology plan as part of the application process. Fortunately for all of us, there are resources on the Internet to help with this process, and these resources are more reliable than a crystal ball.

Learning the Basics of Technology Planning

As I looked for Internet resources on technology planning, my initial search turned up the National Center for Technology Planning (NCTP). Larry S. Anderson, the current director of NCTP, started the organization in 1992 to serve as a clearinghouse for information on technology planning. The emphasis is on planning for schools, but the materials can be useful for other organizations, including libraries. Materials that you can purchase from the NCTP site are Guidebook for Planning, Version 3.0, Visions and Revisions: A Workbook for Evaluating and Revising a Technology Plan, and Planning for Gold, an audiocassette program. Other materials, including version 2.0 of the Guidebook and Technology-Based Needs Assessment Instrument by Ted Wesley, are available for downloading in Adobe Acrobat's PDF format. There is also a mini-seminar entitled Tips on Planning, which is available as short audio files in RealAudio format. The NCTP site serves as a clearinghouse by providing links to technology plans that have been s ubmitted by various institutions including state governments, school districts, higher education institutions, regional organizations, and cities. There was even a link to the U.S. national plan for educational technology prepared by the U.S. Department of Education in 1996.

Another Web site that covers the basics of technology planning is from Microsoft Corp. Once again the emphasis is primarily on schools, but there are materials that should also prove useful to librarians. Since many libraries and schools are developing technology plans in order to qualify for E-rate funding, Microsoft has prepared an E-Rate Roadmap that outlines the process and provides links to additional technology planning materials on the site. The Microsoft materials include a Technology Roadmap that is a detailed guide to planning, implementing, and evaluating; and an article entitled "Understanding the E-rate" that helps applicants learn how to prepare and apply for the funds. Of course, Microsoft carefully details which of its own products are eligible for E-rate discounts. Another related article that librarians may find helpful is entitled "Technology Planning: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly." This article's authors detail their seven sins of technology planning, natural laws of planning, and the f ive challenges faced by authors of technology plans. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.