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A Model for Evaluating Emerging Technologies in a Library Setting


Jennifer Koerber

Jennifer Koerber

Jennifer Koerber, formerly at the Boston Public Library and now a technology trainer and consultant, said that people have an idea where to find information, but many of them are overwhelmed by it.  So she developed a model for evaluating emerging technologies.

Here are the steps in the typical research process.

Steps in the Research Process

Steps in the Research Process

Technologies are often emerging which means that those are on the leading edge, and you have no idea of how they will apply to your spaces. You must “keep a light pulse” in your research. That iterative process makes this model different. If something is on the “bleeding edge”, you will keep rediscovering it. When it reemerges, things will become more complex.

"Bleeding Edge" Items in the Model

“Bleeding Edge” Items in the Model

Modes of application of the model:

  • Sometimes there is a need for access, such as after Superstorm Sandy in Queens (see Kelvin Wilson’s presentation).
  • If you are doing future planning, you will keep a light pulse on the technology early in the process.
  • At the consumer level, the process is established, so you might never get past the “more questions” phase and will need to maintain a public impression and push the public’s idea of libraries into the 21st century. By keeping library staff aware, they can make suggestions to users and promote the library’s facilities. This is why you pay attention to emerging technology even if you will never use it yourself.
Application of the Model in a Consumer Setting

Application of the Model in a Consumer Setting

In the final portion of Jennifer’s presentation, she listed some resources and some questions that should be asked.


  • Libraries and nonprofits
  • Mainstream (usually the technology section of a publication, but read the business section as well)
  • Tech News (what the industry people read)
  • Conferences (you do not to attend or even register for them; simply look at the panel and session titles, then search on your own to get additional information)
  • Word of Mouth (find out who always knows about the new toys, go window shopping and play)
  • Show that professional development and staff technology proficiency are management priorities; do your research on library time.

Questions to Ask:

  • About Sources
  • Basics about the technology
  • Implementation — Frontline
  • Implementation– Financial
  • Needs
  • Uses and Users
  • 30,000 Foot Views
  • Long View — The Tech
  • Long View — Your Library

Her slides of the resources and questions are on her website and on the conference presentations site.


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