Technology can certainly make our lives easier. It can improve libraries for the librarians, and can also improve libraries for the patrons. Looking ahead, what technologies will most improve libraries?
For the Librarians
Integrated Library Systems (ILS) have been around for many years, but their ever increasing capabilities are continuing to make librarians’ work much more efficient. Keeping track of inventory, processing of acquisitions, maintenance of patron records, OPAC design and upkeep are just a few of the things the ILS does. In actuality, nearly every single internal function of the library becomes easier thanks to these systems. Millennium, the UA Library’s ILS, comes out with an updated product annually, and enhancements are based on customer feedback. This means every year, the ILS has more capabilities requested by those that use it most often. The ILS has evolved greatly since its inception, and will continue to make functional work easier and less time consuming for library workers. As the system can do more it will free up time for librarians to focus on other activities, including things such as outreach, instruction, collaboration and grant-writing, building of online tutorials, environmental scanning, and implementation of new services.
For the Patrons
OpenURL is perhaps the technology that most greatly improves libraries for the patron. A library’s central role remains as connecting users to information; and when a patron is interested in using a library’s resources, the primary task they have is searching for those resources. By interconnecting virtual information, OpenURL makes searching library resources a much more pleasant experience, reducing the chance of a patron dreading their library search and simply going to an online search engine instead. As technology improves, so does the functionality and usability of OpenURL resolvers. This is an extremely important technology for libraries, and may just be what keeps libraries as important, practical, and celebrated institutions in today’s world of Amazon and Google.