Technology is a tool used to accomplish the objectives of your library. When goals are based on community demand, and your library determines its objectives, technology invariably becomes an essential part of obtaining those goals. In order to effectively use technology, one must consider all of the implications and aspects of its use.
These guidelines will focus on the basic areas of function that is required to effectively employ technology.
1. Libraries interested in developing in-house circulation and public access computer programs need to plan as follows:
- A library will have an automated library system using PAC (Public Access Computing), circulation and cataloging modules.
- Survey your building for electrical outlets and locations for cabling.
- Retrospective conversion of your collection can take from 11/2 to 2 years depending on the size of your library. You can pay vendors for the conversion process, however, fine-tuning must be done by librarians to make sure the database is correct.
- Select a vendor based on technical reports of their system, demonstrations of their systems, and visits to libraries that use their systems. Base selection of a vendor on the needs of your user population (such as dial-in access).
- Library system software upgrades should lag no greater than one version behind current version.
- USMARC format is recommended for catalog records. (Records are from reliable sources and are not usually keyed in from scratch.)
- Librarians should follow the rules for bibliographic description found in the latest edition of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules AACR2 (currently 2nd ed., 1998 rev.)
- It is recommended that librarians use the latest edition of the Library of Congress Subject Headings, to ensure that all materials about a subject will be consistently listed under the same heading.
- It is recommended that public libraries do provide Web access to their library catalogs.
- The library should back up circulation and OPAC data on a regular schedule – making disks or tapes of that information and keeping it separate from its original location.
2. Libraries planning networks with other libraries to provide circulation and public access catalogs should follow the same criteria as above in statement 1. Some other suggestions follow:
- A Request for Proposal (RFP) should be developed by the library staff and should include questions from all departments of the library. The proposal should be detailed enough to allow the vendors to understand how your network is to function.
- Site visits to libraries using these systems are very important. Discuss the efficiency of the system with library staff that will use the system.
- Be sure that your vendor can supply software that allows each library in the system to have their own fines and loan period. Some aspects of the system will have to be a network policy that affects all members.
- A library should have the ability to load third party records onto their automated library system.
3. Most Alabama public libraries should provide some type of local electronic collections for their patrons, though some may obtain sufficient database access through the AVL (Alabama Virtual
Library) thereby eliminating the need to maintain local database subscriptions. CD-ROMS, DVD and other multimedia/data storage devices can be networked to run from a central server on a local area network or from building to building on a wide area network.
The Alabama Public Library Service can help you plan for automation by loaning materials and articles on the process.
4. The following suggestions should be considered when implementing LAN’s (Local Area Networks), WAN’s (Wide Area Networks) and Network connectivity.
- A library should apply set standards to accommodate technology.
- Technology related to building programs both new or renovated, is addressed in Buildings section. Also, see “ Public Library Space Needs” at the State of Wisconsin web site: http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/dlcl/pld/plspace.html
- A library should have a budget plan that addresses the ongoing cost of technology, including hardware, software, upgrades, maintenance and Internet services.
- A library should have access to a full-time systems manager with full-time computer technicians. This staff can be within the library, within the city government, available as contracted service with a nearby university or other entity.
- A library should have internal staff that is regularly trained to manage and troubleshoot the system.
- It is recommended that public libraries contribute to statewide databases, such as catalogs and union lists of serials.
- A library should have access to the databases provided by the Alabama Virtual Library with output options to include printing, saving and e-mail.
- A library should provide remote access for patrons to the library catalog and to the AVL databases.
- Web pages should be constructed with the objective of training and educating in the service/collection areas emphasized by the library, e.g., genealogy research.
- A library should have an Internet policy that lists responsibilities of Internet use. The Internet policy should be reviewed at minimum every six months.
- A signed Internet use agreement should be kept on file acknowledging guidelines. Refer to http://www.ala.org/alaorg/oif/internetusepolicies.html.
- Adopt a comprehensive, written Internet use policy that includes the following:
- Sets reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.
- Expressly prohibit any use of library equipment to access material that is obscene, child pornography, or “harmful to minors” (consistent with any applicable state or local law).
- Provide for the privacy of users with respect to public terminals such as to protect the confidentiality of records, electronic or otherwise, which identify individual users and link them to search strategies, sites accessed, or other specific data about the information they retrieved or sought to retrieve.
- Communicates the relevant policies for use of Internet-access computers to all library users, and include the parents of children who may use the library without direct parental supervision. Do so in a clear and conspicuous manner sufficient to alert library users that filtering software is not utilized.
- Posts notices at all Internet-access computers that use of library equipment to access illegal materials specified in the Internet use policy is prohibited.
- Offers a variety of programs, at convenient times, to educate library users, including parents and children, on the use of the Internet. Publicize them widely.
- Offers library users a list of recommended Internet sites.
- A library should have a Web Site that describes library services and collections that contain links to selected related sites.
- Hyperlinks on web pages to web-available reference materials and other pertinent
- Web pages are registered with different search engines.
- Meta tags succinctly describe your web pages.
Computers and Networking
- Minimum recommendations for telecommunication links:
- 1 to 3 PC’s – 56K v.90 Dialup Modem
- 4 to 15 PC’s – ISDN, Frame Relay, or DSL
- 16 and above – Fractional T1, T1, T3, or Fiber
- Libraries with 3 or more computers should have a Local Area Network connecting computers and sharing printers.
- A library should have computer(s) designated for staff use only.
- A library should create profiles so that groups and users are defined. Staff and patrons should have controls on what they can and can not view or perform on computers.
- The suggested protocol for both LAN’s and WAN’s is TCP/IP using Static IP Addressing or DHCP.
- A library should have written documentation of the availability of Z39.50 or any other Z39.xx protocol for staff and patron use.
- Written guidelines should be provided to staff describing the appropriate use of staff computers, including responsibilities for security and backing up files.
- Written guidelines should outline regular maintenance requirements for hardware, software, files and computer equipment.
- A library should have a written computer replacement schedule. The recommendation considers a three-year life span with a replacement ratio of one third of the aged machines per fiscal year.
- A library should have a written basic diagram of their network describing the physical layout of wiring and functions of hardware and components.
- A library should have written documentation addressing adaptive needs, describing equipment available to assist persons with disabilities, available training, and policies/procedures.
- A library should use an Intranet to provide information for staff training, policies, procedures, guidelines, forms, and to offer opportunities for collaborative work and to streamline the work environment.
- A library should have provisions for and written documentation describing the use of portable technologies, e.g. laptops, e-books.