There is much talk of late about new technologies, new social software, and new tools that can be utilized to expand library services. The discussions that are taking place around these innovative ideas are wonderful – and the fact the people feel free to share their experiences with others in the library world is even better. I spend a great deal of time reading about these ideas and how people incorporate them in their library. However, I often wonder about when it makes sense to adopt some of these technologies. As such, I really connected with a post by
Librarian Kathryn Greenhill on the blog librariesinteract.info – Fostering services for the early adopters. Librarian Kathryn Greenhill writes “When we find a new web tool that we are pretty sure will benefit our users, when should we launch it? When users request it? When we first hear about it? When no-one else knows about it or has shown any desire to use it? After another library has introduced it and received good feedback?” Ultimately, Kathryn concludes that introducing new tools early would be a good thing. Early adopters would flush out problems, issues etc – and could actually help to educate those who work in the libraries.
Overall, I like Kathryn’s argument. In reality, however, I worry about how much we can actually introduce without impacting services that are already in place. There are only so many library employees with so much time to dedicate to so many duties. I have a sense that many library employees already feel overwhelmed with new technologies and new tools – and absolutely dread talking about introducing new ones. Certain people want to explore new ideas – while certain individuals do not. I’m already concerned about staff burnout – which I think harms the face that we present to our patrons. Unhappy library staff make for very disgruntled customers. I know that this is one reason why we deliberately wait for a new tool to become more established before we implement it in my library. There has to be a happy medium. Hmmmm – food for thought!!!
Update – 10/26/2006 – I have added Kathryn Greenhill’s name as the author of the post that inspired my thoughts. For more, read Kathryn’s post over at Librarians matter.