Ways Technology Has Changed Library Science

Ways Technology Has Changed Library Science

While 84 percent of Americans use the internet, e-book readers become increasingly common, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being created daily, and over 90 percent of all existing data is less than two years old, libraries as technological hubs of the community are more important than ever. With such an overwhelming amount of information available, libraries and their librarians have become guides to big data.

In fact, the availability and free use of computers and the internet now rivals book lending and reference materials as a vital service that libraries provide. In a national survey of Americans aged 16 and older, 77 percent said that free access to computers and the internet is a “very important” service that libraries provide compared to 80 percent who said the same of borrowing books. And survey respondents were generally in favor of increasing the range of technical services that libraries may offer:

  • 73 percent said they would be “very” or “somewhat likely” to take advantage of online research services that let users pose questions to and receive answers from librarians;
  • 63 percent said that they would be “very” or “somewhat likely” to use mobile apps to access library materials or services;
  • 69 percent said that they would be “very” or “somewhat likely” to use technology “petting zoos” to try new devices before committing to buying them;
  • 62 percent said that they would be “very” or “somewhat likely” to use GPS-based navigation apps to locate materials inside library buildings; and,
  • 64 percent said that they would be “very” or “somewhat likely” to use “Amazon-style” customized services that made recommendations based on past behavior.

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This reflects the changing world of library services as they transition into the digital age and adapt their services to better meet the needs of their communities. The services that libraries deliver, and how they deliver them, has also evolved with the times.

Library clients now have access to technology training, general computer skills and website development courses, and even emerging technologies such as 3D printers. And how they deliver their more traditional services, such as information searches, has also changed. For example:

  • At the Ohio State Library, clients can log on to an online chat with a librarian from 7 am to 1 am. The librarian will share their expertise and provide high-quality, authoritative websites and other online resources to assist in research;
  • The Goethe-Institut New York Library’s mobile augmented reality app allows users to explore German cultural heritage in New York City using “archival documents, photographs, and multimedia narratives to bring to life United States history.” The app allows users to see archival photos layered on top of their smartphone’s camera’s view; and,
  • The Scottsdale Public Library’s “Gimme Engine” combines library catalogue data, library staff book reviews from goodreads.com, and client behavior patterns to deliver customized book recommendations in an Amazon-style service.

These are some of the many ways that libraries are adapting to deliver services to their clients in the digital age. The Master of Management in Library and Information Science degree program empowers students with the skills necessary to develop as leaders in this new age of librarianship.