BCLA Perspectives

Introduction to the Technology Survey

After the success of last summer’s survey on education, we asked BCLA members to answer questions on technology and libraries. We were thrilled to have 144 participants share their backgrounds, thoughts and experiences.

These results have provided insight into areas where library workers feel comfortable in their work and abilities, as well as topics and tasks that invoke less confidence. In addition, respondents highlighted some of their preferred methods when it comes to learning about technology in the workplace, and offered a broad picture of what current institutional support looks like for that learning. They used to the space to voice frustrations with current technology and institutional practices, as well as identify what’s new and interesting to them.

We received many written responses, and we’ve tried to share some of them in the following sections dedicated to the survey and results. The first article addresses the background of respondents, and the remaining articles represent multiple choice, rating, and essay questions through graphs, statistics, and summaries.

We were not able to share a lot of direct quotes in these sections—although, the articles often do contain verbatim examples—so we’d like to end this introduction to the survey with a few quotes that reflect the thoughtful responses highlighting the daily experiences, big-picture thinking, and positive and negative relationships with technology in the workplace.

“The ever-changing nature of technology is both frustrating and exciting. It’s a challenge to make time for the hands-on ‘play’ that you need in order to feel comfortable working with patrons.”

“As we’re a small library a lot of material doesn’t apply to us, but my general interest in technology keeps me informed of interesting technologies we might adapt to use in house.”

“We are a tech heavy library. We purchase and learn how tech constantly. I feel like I’m standing in front of a mountain every day.”

“E-Reader troubleshooting is almost a daily occurrence but we have no training. Figuring it out as we go along is exhausting and feels very unprofessional. “

“We’ve just scratched the surface with augmented reality and want to do a lot more.”

“I would like to learn all the technological information that other LA 2’s are trained in, so I would have an opportunity to work in other departments.”

“It’s often difficult to stay up to date on tech specific topics because there is a very particular lingo that is inaccessible to anyone not working in digital services.”

“In recent years, workload increases have minimized the amount of self-directed pro-d.”

“No new technology will look flashy or work as said without good connection.”

“Vendors (including e.g. Google Analytics) also want to grab user/patron info that libraries have traditionally protected and this is deeply troubling.”

“In public libraries, the levels of technological literacy vary greatly among patrons and staff. It’s hard to gauge other people’s skill levels. For example, at our library, people have to fill out an online form to get a library card. Only in special circumstances do we let them get a library card without filling out the online form. Some people are just fine doing this, but for many others it is a barricade just from joining the library. This move to digitisation frustrates me. Further, I find my library system is very focused on advanced tech stuff (3D technology, digitizing media, coding etc) but is not teaching staff or the public how to do the basics. For staff, we need more training with e-readers, overdrive, excel, word, etc. For patrons, they need basic computer courses to learn how to type, use a mouse, search for things online, recognize fraudulent emails etc. I don’t know how we can address this disparity in knowledge but I do feel like it needs to be addressed better than it currently is.”