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Technology Planning Toolkit

 

A Toolkit for Technology Planning in Kansas Public Libraries

Contents


Technology Plan Guidance for Kansas Public Libraries

What is a Technology Plan?

Why do I need a plan?

Does my plan have to be approved?

How many years can the plan cover?

Format

Where can I learn more?

Where can I get help?

Examples: Plan Format and Structure (MS Word format)

Example I. Fill in the blank template (originally designed by Central Kansas Library System)

Example II: Template with boilerplate language (adapted from North Central Kansas Libraries System)

Example III. Narrative, adaptable for small to medium public libraries (adapted from Southwest Kansas Library System)

Technology Plan Guidance for Kansas Public Libraries

As of the funding year beginning July 1, 2011, Technology plans are no longer required as part of the federal E-rate program providing discounted telecommunications and Internet services.1

The State Library does not require technology plans. However, as public libraries become increasingly reliant on dependable effective technologies and communication methods in order to provide quality service, it's good practice to have a written plan that brings together in one place the resources available and the needs to be addressed.

This toolkit is not designed to take you from that blank page to a complete plan that meets E-rate requirements.

What is a Technology Plan?

A technology plan is a written record of how technology is used in your library, and how you intend to change that use in the future.

Why do I need a plan?

•           It's very easy when dealing with technology in libraries to get the cart before the horse. Tech issues in libraries come with a built-in sense of urgency. You can find yourself spending money on impulse or under stress, and end up with products you don't need.

•           You need a plan because:

•           It gives you something to refer to when technology needs change, or conflict with other important things in your library's overall plan.

•           The experience of writing a plan helps you carry the important parts of it in your head - so that if you have to act fast, you can still act right.

•           A tech plan shows that you and your board:

•           have given serious thought to the services you provide (and request help in paying for).

•           know how technology relates to your local vision of library service.

•           know what steps you will take to be sure library staff understand, use, and help patrons use your library's technology.

•           know what technologies you are using, what you need to add or change in the near future (1-3 years) and why.

•           know the cost of your current and future tech expenses, and have budgets or budget plans that show how they will be paid for.

•           Will not purchase and use technologies without measuring how useful they are, getting feedback or other information that will help you determine if and when changes need to be made.

Good technology plans help assure everyone that public dollars are being well used.


 

Does my plan have to be approved?

Only if required by board policy, or as regulated by your taxing authority (city, county, etc.) or if you are applying for Priority 2 E-rate services

Even if not required, the five elements required for approval as an E-Rate tech plan are useful to have in mind when writing a plan:

1. Goals and a realistic strategy for using telecommunications and information technology

Strategy is not about what you do today. When making decisions about technology, what is your "road map?"

2. A professional development strategy

Strategy is the difference between staff development and as-it-comes training

This is a chance to explain your "How and Why" of keeping staff trained in technology skills

3. An assessment of telecom services, hardware, software, and other services needed

An inventory lets you plan based on knowledge of where you are now

An inventory is not an assessment:

Assessment = Inventory of what you need + why


4. An ongoing evaluation process.

"Ongoing" doesn't mean "once"

If your board expects to see evaluation results, build documentation into the process. Document, document, document!

 

How many years can the plan cover?

E-rate rules wouldn't allow approval of a plan covering more than three years. It's entirely up to you now, but that's a reasonable limit, considering the fast pace of change in the technology world.

A number of Kansas libraries have chosen to do one year plans. The important thing with multi-year plans is to review and update them at least annually. This gives you the best of both worlds - long-range planning, plus only one year's from-the-ground-up planning to do at a time.

Format

This plan is for the use of library administration, staff and board, and it's prudent to write it to be a public document.

There are many ways to organize the content of the plan - by time frame, by element of planning, or as part of an overall strategic plan for the library -  the  important thing is that it's useful to you and your community.

Format examples are included in this toolkit. Remember that unless you apply for Priority II E-rate discounts you can consider E-rate-specific statements as advisory.

Your own format is fine, too!


Where can I learn more?

Whether you need e-Rate approval or not, it's a good idea to visit the official e-rate site's pages on tech planning

Where can I get help?

·         ALA's Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) has published an excellent guide written by the Certified Library Technology Plan Approver for Missouri:

-          Morrison, Jean. Writing a winning technology plan for e-rate compliance. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2011.

-          available via ILL from the State Library of Kansas

·         Find out if your regional library system offers help with tech plans. If you've never written one, don't even start until you've done this.

·         Contact Jeff at the State Library at 800-432-3919. Email me a draft of your plan at jeff.hixon@library.ks.gov and I'll offer suggestions and advice.

Examples: Plan Format and Structure (MS Word format)

Example I. Fill in the blank template (originally designed by Central Kansas Library System)

Example II: Template with boilerplate language (adapted from North Central Kansas Libraries System)

Example III. Narrative, adaptable for small to medium public libraries (adapted from Southwest Kansas Library System)



|     Last modified: Jul 10, 2013