Story 3: The Technology Commons

Dedicated to supporting learning, creation and entrepreneurship, the library’s purpose is to ensure that everyone knows how to use the rapidly changing and evolving technology that they need to meet their own needs.  Each library building is a technology commons.

Libraries make available technology, skilled staff, and different types of spaces for using technology alone, with a tutor, or with a small group.  Space in libraries is designed to support individuals in their learning, career, and business goals.   The space might include a cyber café, a small business center, or a teen media lab.  Depending on the availability of ultra high speed broadband, the Library is the backbone of the community’s broadband access outside home and business.

SPPL provides the types of technology that people don’t have at home because they cannot afford it, there are competing demands for technology at home, or because the technology itself is too new, sophisticated and expensive for individual households to own.  The types of technology available include tools for production, content creation, publishing, composition, invention, and preservation.  The Library might host community servers to facilitate the learning, document, and product development that the public needs for education or entrepreneurship.

The Library offers classes on the use of different types of technology for individuals and groups.  It offers labs for new kinds of reading experiences.  Staff may help people learn how to participate in telemedicine; use their school’s parent portal; book on-line travel; or use new complex new tools for searching by sound, texture and smell.

Staff offers technology support and instructions, helps people understand and use emerging technology, and connects patrons with the special expertise they need.

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3 Responses to Story 3: The Technology Commons

  1. Janet says:

    This sounds unrealistic. You won’t get the budget to stay up to date with the technology. You move out of your current market in pursuit of some other set of patrons. Part of this sounds low level–booking travel online, using the school’s parent portal. Part sounds high level–product development, content creation. Computers and technology are a tool for learning, just one tool. Libraries should do much more than focus on teaching people to use one tool and do more than making a tool available. Jumping on the technology bandwagon does not set the library apart and is not an option that reflects the enduring usefulness of the library.
    I am FULLY in support of having computers avaiable for public use in the library, FULLY in support of classes on using technology, etc. I just do not want that to be all the library does.
    SPPL is a fantastic library now. Why do this strategic planning? We have one of the best library systems in the country; can’t we just fund it and not mess with success?

  2. Jennifer says:

    With this scenario I wonder again about the staffing component – who would be employed and how would they be trained? I would be concerned about how it would be possible to constantly stay on the cutting edge of technology developments – what would it take to support the infrastructure. How would community partners be able to be part of the hardware component?

  3. SamLL says:

    I think Janet’s and Jennifer’s points are hitting the nail on the head. I think (and maybe I am privileged because I am already a technocrat) that this is an important but ultimately small component of what the libraries provide.

    I agree that keeping up with technology will be immensely difficult (it can be hard even for world-class engineering universities) and that the staffing requirements here will be difficult & expensive. (Look at how utterly impossible it is for most high schools to find anyone really good to teach computer programming, because just going off and being a programmer is so much more lucrative.)

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