BCLA Perspectives

Survey: Technology frustrations

Question: What frustrates you about technology in your position and/or day-to-day work? (Ex: Products that don’t work as advertised, workflows that are now out of date, devices or tools you’ve struggled to learn or teach to others.)

A whopping 116 respondents answered our first essay question about on-the-job frustrations related to technology. The frustrations generally fit into six themes, which are identified below. One comment appeared multiple times but did not warrant a broader theme or examples—a lack of IT support. Whether that’s a lack of IT resources, tech-minded people, or an actual IT department, for example, was unclear.

The underlying issue to many of these frustrations, frequently given voice in the answers, is the financial constraints that cause these effects. Additional factors leading to frustration included time/knowledge required to stay up-to-date and the inability to explain or justify some issues to patrons (for example, wifi that can’t keep up with patrons).

 Outdated, damaged, and otherwise insufficient hardware and software

  • Printers with outdated/unintuitive/ payment systems and use procedures
  • Broken and/or outdated mice, keyboards, printers, etc
  • Slow or weak internet
  • Compatibility issues between PC and Mac

  The quickly changing nature of technology 

  • It’s hard to find the time to keep up
  • Tech rapidly becomes obsolete
  • It takes too long to implement new simple technology into the daily workflow
  • Balancing what we need immediately with trends with what will be needed two years down the road
  • Too much of a focus on flashy, new tech and not training, etc


  • Overpromising on what products can do
  • Lack of support
  • Not understanding user- and service-centred practices

Discontinuity with tech resources and staffing

  • Tech products are available at the library but there’s not enough staff scheduled to maximize programming, use, and troubleshooting
  • Customers want to help themselves and learn on their own, but there’s not staff or resources to create guides and other documentation to assist users
  • One person with a question about how to use their e-reader at the desk means that as one person covering a whole floor I can either help them or I cannot offer great service to the many other people that need help finding books, using the photocopier etc.

Balancing staff and management expectations

  • More formal training for staff about tech resources vs wanting staff to explore and learn on their own
  • time for learning—on your own vs on the clock


  • unrealistic expectations of staff knowledge/skills (with personal devices and institutional technology)
  • not knowing their passwords for devices/accounts they need help with
  • provide adequate access to technology in the ways that users require, because everyone’s needs are individualized.