Massachusetts Public Library Trustees Handbook
All libraries should include a plan for the development and maintenance of technology in their long-range planning. Technology provides the gateway for access to the Internet and to electronic resources delivered via the Internet, and is essential for all public libraries. The Board of Library Commissioners funds database license agreements that provide free access to core library resources through the Internet. However, individual libraries are responsible for the equipment and connectivity needed to access these valuable resources.
The technologies that libraries need to include in their planning are as varied as the libraries themselves. Here is a brief outline of technologies that public libraries are planning for today:
Computers for public use
Computers for public Internet access
Computers for staff use
Local Area Network to link computers
Membership in an automated network
Local circulation control system
Computer software for public use applications
Assistance with technology planning is available from regional library systems and from the automated resource sharing networks (for member libraries). The library should consult Wired for the Future, a companion to Planning for Results, for a step-by-step approach to technology planning.
The Board of Library Commissioners encourages all public libraries to affiliate with one of the eight automated resource sharing networks as an online affiliate member at a minimum, and to contribute local holdings to the network database. When preparing a technology plan the library should contact its automated network for current information on membership options and costs.
The federal E-rate program offers substantial discounts (20%-90%) to public libraries for certain telecommunications and infrastructure costs including basic telephone service, Internet access and internal connections. A technology plan is required to be eligible for this program. The Board of Library Commissioners is designated to approve these plans for public libraries. Board staff can provide up-to-date information on this program and advise libraries on potential benefits.