Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Should Librarians Rely on Associations for Technology Guidance?

Once again, dusting off some older topic stubs...

The results of a Medical Library Association's Task Force on Social Networking Software survey to see which social networking tools were important to association members are available. The survey results were summarized:

" new social networking technologies are important to MLA members, but only up to a point. While MLA members understand that these technologies may be important, they do not always see a personal or professional use in them (yet!)."
A couple specific results:

  • 73% respondents rated blogs very to somewhat important for sections, chapters, and SIGs of MLA. However, only 52% reported using blogs in their professional life when combining the same numbers.
  • 71% respondents rated RSS very to somewhat important for sections, chapters, and SIGs of MLA. 39% reported very to somewhat important use of RSS in their personal life
  • "overwhelmed with the technology options and not yet sure how the tools may really help them in their daily lives."

Hmmm. So, members are looking to MLA for information and guidance on new technologies. They want MLA to tell them how these technologies are going to solve problems and make their life easier. They also see technologies such as RSS and Blogs as being important to the Association, but not important enough for them to use in their personal lives.

Double hmmmm.

I have opening wondered for some time now if the reason libraries can be slow in adopting new technologies is simply because by the time a trend is spotted, a need for a task force identified, a group is created, a survey administered, recommendations made, resources identified, a project group assembled, a position paper developed, final version approved, and the result communicated (huff puff) - the original concept is likely already outdated.

The shelf life of technology has gotten so short that I not so sure I should expect any professional association to provide me with guidance. While annual meetings are a great place to hear about emerging technologies, I believe it should be a part of every librarian's continuous learning process to explore themselves (using tools such as RSS and blogs!) and no longer wait patiently for an annual meeting to hear about them. One needs to find out for themselves how these tools can be used in their daily lives and not wait for someone else to tell them

If our profession Associations need to start doing anything, it is to provide more sandboxes to play in and promote a culture where it is OK to get dirty. Sphere: Related Content


Owen said...

I was only saying yesterday that our library needed to be able to respond to whatever was going to be the next big thing in 2 years, rather than take 2 years to respond to last years big thing.

I was talking in the context of IT systems rather than policy, but I agree completely - we need to 'permit' experimentation and innovation as part of what we do - as long as we are clear about what we are doing, and the difference between an experiment and a service I think this can work.

Christina L. Wissinger Assistant Librarian said...

I think there is hope in this area. I see more and more job ads for instructional technology coordinators or emerging technology coordinators at large health sciences or medical libraries. If there is a position devoted to the task of keeping up with the technology perhaps implementation will be faster.