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Does the thought of creating a tech plan for your organization seem overwhelming? A mysterious process? Something that you've been meaning to do, but just keep putting off? Never fear, the incredible tech planners are here to help! In August, we hosted a webinar called Technology Planning Tips for Small Libraries. Our guests for this webinar were
If you've never even considered creating a tech plan for your organization, or it's been a while, you're not alone. More than a third of our webinar attendees do not have a current technology plan, and 14 percent said they were not sure if they had one or not.
Julie Elmore is the library director of the Oakland City-Columbia Township Public Library in Indiana and its only full-time employee. The library, which serves about 4,000 people, has no dedicated IT staff and a budget of about $200,000 per year. Julie described the library's community as "economically depressed" and a place where the digital divide is real: most people only access the Internet from their phones.
With a tight budget, a small staff, and an obvious need for computers, a technology plan is crucial for the Oakland City-Columbia Township Public Library. Julie actually didn't have much choice in the matter anyway; the library was required to have one by the state of Indiana.
But Julie was OK with that requirement because the plan has served as a roadmap, providing direction and guidance on technology acquisitions and programs. It has also been a great way to measure the organization's progress in meeting tech goals.
Here are a few of Julie's key tips for embarking on a tech plan.
While tech plan templates may vary, Julie recommends including the following elements in your plan:
When it comes to taking inventory, Julie pointed out that you should include more than just computers. This could include networks, software, peripherals (such as charging stations, phone systems, or keyboards), Internet connections, your integrated library system (ILS), website, staff training, and technology-related programming.
Julie also stressed the importance of being realistic with your technology goals and objectives.
"This is not the place for your wildest dreams when you're running a small library. This is the place to include what you really want to get done with your technology over the next three years."
As the technology specialist at the Liberty Lake Municipal Library in Washington state, Travis Montgomery is one of three full-time staff members and the only dedicated IT person.
In Travis' opinion, creating a tech plan translates into saving money. If you create a plan for buying your technology, you'll be able to find the best quality technology for the best price. He recommends shopping around at different electronic retailers, such as Fry's Electronics and Best Buy, and donation programs like TechSoup (thanks for the shoutout!). He also suggested coordinating buying with special sales, such as Cyber Tuesday or holiday promotions.
But perhaps my favorite tips from Travis were on preventative maintenance: keeping the technology you already have in tiptop shape. Here are a few ways to keep your technology ticking:
Travis also discussed a few tactics for troubleshooting technology if you don't have a dedicated IT person on staff. He recommends looking for how-to videos on YouTube, exploring Microsoft's IT Academy, and using IT-related books for technology novices (such as the "…For Dummies" series of books).
We also highly recommend checking out TechSoup's comprehensive list of how-tos and articles, which cover everything from networking to Internet safety.
This blog post was originally published on TechSoup for Libraries. Although the tips and examples come from libraries, we think that all organizations can benefit from some basic tech planning tips. These practical tips can help you plan for new technology and keep your existing hardware and software in great shape.
Image 1: Julie Elmore
Image 2: Oakland City-Columbia Township Public Library
Image 3: Travis Montgomery
Image 4: Liberty Lake Municipal Library
Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.