Assessment of Library Needs
Engagement with relevant partners in the development of a smart city/community is critical for your public library to gain additional capacities or resources as well as legitimacy for the new roles in the smart city/community. Working closely with your partners will bring important resources, skills, and knowledge to help your public library effectively offer those programs or services and make your city or community smarter.
Knowing your library’s needs is a crucial first step to effectively find and approach the right partners to help with the implementation of new programs or services. It is not enough to just recognize the importance of engaging partners. Public libraries need to clearly know what resources or capacities are necessary to achieve goals with partners.
By doing the assessment, it will become clearer what resources you need most for the new programs and services, what resources you could offer, make better decisions about whom to engage with, and more effectively connect with targeted partners.
There are a variety of resources needed to support successful collaboration. First, financial resources are one of the most important types of resources. Investment in the technology and other infrastructure for the smart city/community programs requires a consistent flow of funding to cover the cost of equipment and training. You will have to consider financial needs for technologies and also needs for building layout or space for community engagement as well as for recruiting new staff. Also, it is critical to assess financial needs both in the short term and long term.
Second, technology resources are important for specific public library programs and services designed to make contributions to smart city/community development. Such resources and assets are required to reach the goals of collaboration between public libraries and partners to support the growth of smart citizen.
In addition to acquire funding for technology investment, you may want to consider working with IT companies or academic institutions to gain access to advanced technology equipment (e.g., 3D printers, AI techniques, or robotics) and to further support the public library’s ability to offer training beyond basic computer skills.
For instance, if one of your library’s goals is to enhance patrons’ advanced digital skills for the IT job market, such as computer programming, you may consider investing in software programing training tools or courses. You could collaborate with private companies like Google Chicago who have provided 300 Finch Robots that adult patrons can borrow to learn computer programming.
Third, human resources are another critical resource to support the development of a smart city or community. Library staff not only need up-to-date skills and expertise for new technologies, but also need an open mindset and approachable personality to help local residents explore new technologies or obtain digital skills to become smarter citizens.
In addition to human resource management inside your library, you may want to consider collaborating with other smart city partners to strengthen the skills and expertise for new programs or services. Partnering with schools or local designers, public libraries can have volunteers running workshops or programs for local residents to engage them in the development of a smart city/community.
For instance, one of your goals may be to become a space of innovation and your library needs expertise in how to design and build innovative ideas with local residents. You may want to consider collaborating with design companies or professional designers to help manage the innovation initiatives and the makerspace.