As an individual who remembers growing up in a home without running water and indoor plumbing technology has its distinct advantages.

However, in this day and age technology can become overwhelming. Before you get used to a new technology it becomes obsolete, outdated, or superseded by a “newer” or “better” version. Being human beings there is the desire to not be left behind or appear outdated.

In our strategic plan, the Library indicates that it will “use technology appropriately”. In our plan this is presented as a part of the “provide excellent collections” section of our strategic directions. However, it also applies to all of our strategic directions as technology plays an important role in all aspects of library service provision.

The question becomes what is the appropriate use of technology? This is a question without easy answers. It is a question that I wrestle with and will continue to do so until I am no longer here.

What I do know is that the Williamsburg Regional Library emphasizes personal service to our user community. Some technology such as automated phone systems do not fit into this concept. This is why we directly answer our phones during the service day and my direct phone line is listed in the phone directory. Sometimes this provides me with interesting conversations, but I enjoy them.

Technology such as self-check machines, enable busy individuals to quickly checkout materials from the library. WiFi in-house networks enable users to employ their own laptops within our building. Projectors and Internet connections enable groups to better use our meeting facilities. These are examples of technologies that enable users to quickly access information and services without staff assistance. In today’s fiscal climate, technology assists our staff in providing the individualized personal service for which we are known and respected.

As we look at the immediate future, what technology will the Library employ or participate in and what will it decide not to? I do not know. What I do know is that our staff will have many discussions as a part of the on-going decision process. What technology we end up deciding to employ or participate in will not satisfy all. This is the only guarantee in the whole process. However, our decisions will be driven by the firm conviction that technology is only a tool, not an end in and of itself. For it to be employed at or by the Williamsburg Regional Library any technology must prove that its use is fiscally responsible and will enable us to provide better personal service to the members of the community we love and serve.

So long for now!

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