Term Paper: Technology Plan

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Information Technology Plan for a University Library

Creating a state-of-the-art integrated library system (ILS) for a university requires the definition of specific information, knowledge, learning and long-term research goals aligned to the current and anticipated needs of the patrons. The coordinating of these requirements and their fulfillment through a long-term technology plan needs to be strategic in nature with designed-in frameworks to guide growth yet enough flexibility to ensure responsiveness to patrons (Shupe, Behling, 2006). The most effective integrated library systems begin as strategic information and technology plans, orchestrated around the specific needs and requirements of patrons (Flower, 2004). Integral to this effort is the creation of taxonomies that can manage the information systems and corresponding knowledge-based applications, databases and systems they support (Edwards, Shaw, Collier, 2005). As the most critical success factor for enabling any enterprise system to succeed is being able to successfully implement a change management program, the technology plan takes this factor into account at a foundational level (Lampert, Vaughan, 2009). For change management to succeed and adoption of any enterprise system to reach its maximum potential, integrated library systems need to also be purpose-build to the specific needs of users of the system, both today and anticipated in the future (Lampert, Vaughan, 2009). The first section of this technology plan concentrates on the different users of the library system including the various department, different collections and different user groups and their relative demographics. The second section provides a concise overview and critical analysis of the current technologies in use by the library system. Included in this section is an assessment of its ILS, current hardware configuration, support and use of ancillary technologies including collaboration portals, e-book distribution, and website applications used for delivering an excellent customer experience. The third section is a detailed rationale of the technology plan for the next three to five years including an assessment of future staff hires, incremental hardware, software and systems, and an assessment of how best to align technologies to patron's needs.

Analysis of Library Patrons

The university this library system is being designed for has a study body population of approximately 3,000 students, and concentrates on science, engineering and math disciplines. Bachelor's Masters and Doctor of Philosophy degrees are awarded in two dozen science, engineering and math fields. There are approximately 100 full-time and 75 adjunct professors who teach and manage the departments of the school, and an administrative staff of 75. Students and faculty are most active users of the library system. The following figures provides a demographic breakdown of their ages.

Figure 1: University Library System Demographics, 2013

Market Segment


Males 18-45


Females 18-45


Males <18 Advanced Placement HS


Females <18 Advanced Placement HS


Males >45


Females >45


The university this library system is being designed for has a student body population of approximately 3,000 students, and concentrates on science, engineering and math disciplines. Bachelor's, Masters and Doctor of Philosophy degrees are awarded in two dozen science, engineering and math fields. There are approximately 100 full-time and 75 adjunct professors who teach and manage the departments of the school, and an administrative staff of 75. A recent survey showed that the following psychographic segments comprise the patron base for the current university. Psychographics is the study of how people assign themselves to groups that have comparable interest, needs and perspectives on life and work. Here are the specific psychographic segments:

Brave New Professors -- the recently arrived professors and adjunct faculty to the university are in this group. They rely on the library's online research access and are very self-sufficient in using the traditional library systems. They often provide process improvement feedback as well, as many of them have offices in the library building.

Efficiency Freaks - Undergraduate and graduate students who are obsessed with making the most out of their time, these students queue up tasks and execute them very quickly online and off. They often provide library research staff with request a month in advance and make it possible to anticipate the needs of the Library Dwellers as a result.

Lifestyle Learners -- These are tenured faculty who don't need to do as much research to hold onto their positions and as a result often define their own curriculum for how they use the library. They rely on the library as a means to chart their own intellectual journey.

Library Dwellers -- Upper-class undergraduate and graduate students who are predominantly chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics majors who are in the middle of writing their dissertations and theses, these library patrons require access to books published before the Internet was invented. They are in the library more than any other psychographic group, often staying all weekend to write papers and work on projects.

Tenured Researchers - Senior-level members of the faculty who concentrate on secondary research and also rely on the Collections areas to do further analysis. Members of this segment are more concerned about creating research that will last over the long-term, and as a result have the greatest need for a new ILS system.

Uber-Achievers - Undergraduate students who are accustomed to overachieving in life, they take on new projects in this university and immediately dive into them. Like the efficiency freaks they like to have a library where everything is streamlined and easily accessed.

Young Digerati -- First-year students who are very focused on the electronic aspects of the library, they are heavily into using social media, collaboration applications and tools, and online applications.

Departments in the university include biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics and physics. Specific collections that the university has today include working papers from the origins if NASA, Dr. Goddard's working papers for the first rocket engines produced commercially, Werner Von Braun's working papers for the first Saturn V and Mercury Programs as well.

Analysis of Current Technologies

The existing ILS for the university library is client/server based, running applications for the late 1990s. The application workflows are anachronistic, predating the Internet and its capacity of completing more complex, intricate searches online. ILS systems designed to optimize workflow performance that assume on a few dominant search patterns exist inevitably fail to meet all library user or patron requirements (Vaughan, 2002). The entire library system is run on Microsoft Windows Server, which is installed and running on a Dell file server in the basement of the computer center across campus. Within the library there are terminals for accessing all catalogs and a broader state-wide catalog of potential books of interest. The online system in the library is limited in its Internet access however due ot bandwidth constraints school-wide. The research desk and professor's offices all have broadband, and there is a Wi-Fi access point in the lobby and meeting room areas near the front of the library itself. The website for the library is very rudimentary with operating hours, staff, services and access to just a few of the online databases available to students and faculty.

Rationale for Technological Advancements

Across the many psychographic segments that comprise the user base of the library, there are several resonating needs that unify their expectations, experiences, needs, preferences and wants of all segments. All segments have an acute sense of time to complete research and the need for accuracy and thoroughness of queries. Time and quality are critical design criterion for ILS platforms and must taken into account role-based access to the systems, across both students and faculty to be successful (Lampert, Vaughan, 2009). What this translates into is the need to create an ILS platform with a stable enough taxonomy to support the advanced research needs of the Tenured Researchers and Lifestyle Learners . The proposed ILS system needs to include both an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Enterprise Knowledge Management (EKM) component that has the fidelity to data structures and reliability to support taxonomy definition and propagation (Edwards, Shaw, Collier, 2005). For those psychographic segments that value agility and speed as the primary experiential factors in using the library, there also needs to be an application interface that can be quickly changed to meet their specific needs. This specifically applies to the Efficiency Freaks, Uber-Achievers and Young Digerati. These three customer segments are more interested in how quickly they can get access to information and translate it into knowledge they can use in their research projects. Compounding these diverse needs are the diverse information retrieval, knowledge management and research needs of the biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics and physics departments. Clearly the existing client-server architecture cannot scale to support the existing departments given the greater complexity of research and queries. The existing client/server architecture is incompatible with the latest CMS and KMS systems as well, which rely on J2EE-based server platforms and can also run on virtual machines over Amazon Web Services. In short, the existing it architecture cannot reliability support the future direction of the library's online and offline initiatives and will need to be replaced.

Given the broad departmental… [END OF PREVIEW]

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