Libraries and the Internet Toolkit

Technology Considerations

In addition to user access policy decisions, providing access to the Internet involves making technological decisions about delivery, hardware and software. The fastest Internet connection used on an outdated computer, or a browser without software updates, can prevent a user from fulfilling an information need. Lack of policy on software updates and patches can lead to security issues and vulnerability to viruses for which security software and other programs are not prepared. In addition, missing plug-ins and updates can render browsers unable to open or display Web pages or digital media on certain sites, inadvertently blocking user access to necessary or desired content. 

Librarians working on technology plans and supplemental documents should do the following:
  • Identify goals and strategies for technology use. These goals and strategies should also be considered during strategic planning.
  • Budget for upgrades in technology. Plan for upgrades and possible replacement in advance. Also budget for support time for staff, factoring in the additional support cost of maintaining older hardware vs. newer hardware.
  • Develop policy indicating the amount of time user information can be kept on any given system within the library or maintained by outsourced contractors, deleting information as soon as the period has lapsed.
  • Develop a technology plan that encompasses technology needs and issues for the near future, taking into consideration needs for the next one to three years.
  • If receiving federal E-rate funding, ensure the technology plan meets these requirements.
Libraries should:
  • Promote secure, private access for users as defined in the “Privacy Procedures” section of ALA’s Privacy Toolkit;
  • Configure publicly accessible Web browsers so that the browser is reset every time it is closed and does not allow third-party cookies;
  • Activate a default logout after a period of inactivity on public computers to protect user privacy;
  • Track number of users but develop a policy for destroying user sign-up sheets at regular intervals;
  • Configure back-up logs so that when they are no longer needed for library operations, personally identifiable information is securely overwritten, particularly for circulation records;
  • Work with IT staff to ensure browsers are regularly updated to the most recent version possible, including necessary plug-ins; and
  • Ensure security patches are kept up-to-date to avoid viruses.
Source for a vast amount of information regarding technology planning specifically for libraries. Includes resources for writing a technology plan, computer support, security, purchasing hardware and 
software, adhering to E-rate requirements and more. Membership is free, though certain services and resources are fee-based. 
A technology asset management system used to track information on hardware and software, including purchase date, licenses, inventory and more. Also offers documentation, worksheets and resources to help with inventories, staff skills surveys, technology planning, budgeting and more. Free access is granted to all Web Junction members. 
Extensive list of resources for technology planning, including much background information. 
A guide to determining when to replace and refresh hardware and software aimed at non-profits and based in context-specific decision making. 
Provides detailed information on technology plan requirements necessary to secure federal E-rate funding. 
Bibliography of Web sites providing information on technology planning geared toward educational technology plans.
Documentation and sources for additional information regarding privacy policies and procedures.