Frequently I have conversations with librarians that go something like this:
Me: Have you tried out this great new web-tool?
Librarian: No, I don’t have the time to try new things like that.
Me: I’ve been using it with teens and they love it. It’s a great way to connect with them outside of the library and a good way to keep in touch about programs, activities, and such.
Librarian: Yeah, that’s great, I really wish I could use it too, but really I don’t have the time to try out something new.
This week when having a similar conversation all of a sudden it came to me, why not talk about learning and using these new tools in the same way that I usually talk about developing library collections for/with teens? In order to build collections that meet the diverse needs of a teen population librarians find time to read reviews of materials, and tend to read many of the actual materials. Well, can’t we do the same with technology tools that teens want and need to use? For example, don’t we have to try out Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picnik, Pandora, etc. in order to put them in our collection of tools/resources/materials that we suggest to teens so to give them what’s required in order to fit a particular homework or recreational need?
If we start to look at technology as a collection item, in the same way that we look at books, CDs, games, etc. as collection items, doesn’t it then become easier to make time for the learning and collecting? In our physical and virtual spaces we need to collect an array of resources to fit the needs of the teens who use library services. We need fiction and non-fiction. We need homework materials and leisure materials. We need Wikipedia and Google. We need Flickr and del.icio.us. All of these items should be a part of the collections we build.
When looking at technology in this way it’s no longer a question of “Oh my gosh I don’t have time to learn something new.” Instead the technology becomes part of what librarians already do – collect materials and resources of all types that meet the needs of the community.