It is the day and age of technological advancement. Digital processes and devices are evolving at an alarming pace, consistently surprising us (more so captivating us) with their growing functionality. This is the world your library patrons live in, constantly surrounded by iPhone this and tablet that, a mobile app here and a digital printer there – so it should be no surprise that they come in with some pretty high expectations regarding library technology.
As this technological evolution continues, and people grow more accustomed to digital timesaving processes, libraries everywhere are replacing their older, mechanical library technology with highly digitized services. You don’t want your library lagging behind the times, do you? Well, then it’s time you got to know the 21st century library patron a little bit better, and find out how to cater to their expanding needs.
The 21st Century Library Patron
According to the “2013 Library Services In The Digital Age Report, the growth of e-books read by Americans 16 years and older has increased from 16% to 23% in the last year. The amount of readers who own a tablet e-reader has increased from 18% in 2011 to 33% in 2012. These stats are well known among the library community. But perhaps the most important findings are the following:
- 80% of Americans say borrowing books is “very important” to library service.
- 80% say reference librarians are “very important” to library service.
- 77% say free access to computers with internet access is “very important” to library service.
Your patrons and their behaviors have changed drastically – is your current library technology 21st century patron-friendly? If not, you should be digging deeper, trying to find out specifically what 21st century patrons want, and how libraries have been giving it to them. This should help you get started.
They Want Variety
The 21st Century Library patron wants information as well as entertainment. It is a big multimedia world out there, and your library patrons want access to all of it. Your 21st century patrons crave everything from books and magazines, to music, movies, and even video games.
Give Them Variety
Consider creating a library app to make searching, reserving, and reading material easier for patrons. Have a link to a GPS-style book locator, simplifying student searches for specific materials.
Patrons want to access library material however they want, but also wherever they are. They crave access to e-books, audio books, podcasts, movies, games, or webinars while on the go, at home, or in school. Certain libraries are exploring kiosk style lending hubs located at various locations throughout the community (coffee shops, grocery stores, etc.) where students digitally “check out” reading materials without physically visiting the library.
They Want Support
Say your printer is only compatible with a certain type of PC or computer program. This greatly conflicts with the habits of your 21st century patrons. Your patrons don’t all own the same digital systems and devices. In fact, quite the opposite – there is such a plethora of technology products available, that it would be surprising if any 2 patrons owned the same device. Your library technology should be able to coincide with the variety of different technologies currently on the market.
Give Them Support
A digital, in the cloud, library provides access to materials 24/7 from any location, on any device. If you’ve already established a digital library, consider participating in a digital library network – a chain of libraries across the community, state, or even world where libraries share resources.
Another great idea for all-encompassing support service is book-scanning technology. A book scanner allows patrons and librarians to digitize any printed material in the library or library network. Scan-to-mobile technology, another innovative advancement in the field of library services, allows patrons to access any printed material on their preferred device (scanned directly to that device.)
These library technology trends are quickly becoming much more than trends. For most of your patrons, it’s a way of life. To keep your library technology up-to-date and relevant, you need to know your patrons, understand their digitally sensitized mindset, and be able to cater to their growing expectations.
Want to discover more options for updating your library technology? Click on the button below to download your free guide, “Scan-To-Mobile Technology: The New Process Your Patrons Are After”, and see how scan-to-mobile technology transforms library efficiency and provides your 21st century patrons with the solutions they seek.