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Emerging Technology – Technology Mobile

Introduction of technology services

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There is a trend in libraries in the US and around the world about building maker spaces. Maker spaces allow patrons to tinker with immerging technologies like 3D printing, Laser cutters, VR systems and other traditional technologies like sewing machines. I work at the San Mateo County Libraries (SMCL) and they are expanding the maker spaces throughout the library system. Currently, one library has a maker space but more are being built in the next two to three years throughout the SMCL system. Eventually, all of the libraries in the (SMCL) system will have a maker space. Maker spaces are a great service that is provided to patrons, but they don’t go far enough to cover the community technology needs. “Smartphone ownership rates skyrocket in many emerging economies, but the digital divide remains.” Poushter, J. (2016). I suggest expanding services by implementing a Technology Mobile that will be able to help those who are falling behind on technology skills and do community outreach.

3D printed hearts -Ismael Betancourt

As a Community Technology Specialist, my primary job is to help patrons learn how to use the technology offered in the library. Often I’m asked how come technology services are not offered outside the library? Specifically, one patron mentioned that she and her church group would benefit from these classes but they can’t attend due to transportation issues. Another patron commented that her middle school Girls Scout group would love to do projects with the 3D printer but it’s difficult for them to come to the library. “I believe public libraries should move away from being ‘houses of knowledge’ and move more towards being ‘houses of access,” Zickuhr, K. (2014). Having a Technology Mobile as part of the SMCL system would be a great benefit to the community and for the libraries. It would bridge the technology divide that many patrons face and the libraries can continue to expand services to those in need.

Purpose and Benefits

The suggestions by patrons mentioned above are only of few on many that I have encountered over the last year. A Technology Mobile will solve two the of libraries’ main issues; reaching patrons outside the library and providing patrons with technology access. The Technology Mobile will allow the libraries to bring technology services to patrons who don’t have transportation and/or may have other barriers that prevent them from going to the library. 

The Technology Mobile will also provide libraries with a great tool to partner with other intuitions. “Partnerships, Østergård noted, are a cornerstone for keeping Dokk1’s vibrancy going.” Stephens, M. (2016). The libraries could partner with schools in low-income communities to provide STEAM maker programs after school and/or they could form partnerships with senior centers, parks, and recreation departments or attend community-sponsored events. 

Photo by Blaz Erzetic on Unsplash

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

Facilitate the use of the library’s technology equipment to members of the community who are not able to go to the library.

Provide one-on-one technology help to patrons who are falling behind technology advances.

Encourage participation and innovation with technology clinics.

Promote STEAM programming in low-income communities.

Increase the visibility of non-traditional library services such as Wifi hot spots, laptops computers, iPads, and GoPros.

Support county and community initiatives like sustainability.

Facilitate conversations and community collaboration with technology classes.

Demonstrate the value of the library by providing patrons with technology tools that will help them in their daily lives.

Description of the community you wish to engage: Technology Mobile will mostly target patrons over 55 years old, elementary, and middle school students. We want to engage community members who have difficulties getting to the library and those who are not regular library users.

Action Brief Statement:

For administration: The admiration in the SMCL system welcomes new ideas and encourages staff members to innovate on how to better serve our communities.

I will present the Technology Mobile as an opportunity to fulfill a need that is in our community. I will also present the benefits of doing targeting outreach.

For Patrons: Patrons will have access to services without having to travel to the library. They will get programming services that will enhance their technical skills and close the digital divide that exists in the community.

For Staff: The SMCL system already has a team of technology specialists that work at each branch. Most of the staff are already trained and capable of teaching patrons the technology that the libraries provide. The impact on the staff will be minimal because the Technology Mobile can be staffed with three staff members.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or services:

Stephens, M. (2015).Serving users when and where they are: Hyperlinked libraries.

Pew Internet & American Life (2016). Adults with tech-access tools are more likely to be lifelong learners and rely on the internet to pursue knowledge.

Horrigan, J. B. (2016). Lifelong learning and technology.

Lu, K. (2017) Growth in mobile news use driven by older adults.

Poushter, J. (2016). Smartphone ownership

Stephens, M. (2016). Dream. Explore. Experiment.

Schwab, K. (2019). The library of the future is an 80 year-old converted train shed.

IFLA. (2015). Responding! Public Libraries and Refugees.

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

The library administration will be involved in setting policies and guidelines for the Technology Mobile. The Technology Mobile must follow the guidelines and policies set by the San Mateo County Libraries systems. Public Computers, Devices, and Internet Access Policy. https://smcl.org/policies/public-computers-devices-and-internet-access-policy/ 

Terms of use: https://smcl.bibliocommons.com/info/terms?_ga=2.88406939.1894779532.1583648539-961067330.1571030522 

Public Computers and Devices

 It is illegal to physically or electronically modify library computer equipment or other devices, or tamper with hardware or software, as established in the California Penal Code, Section 502 et. Seq. 


Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:

The proposal will require one-time additional funding to purchase the vehicle and update some technology equipment. The library perhaps can use the one-time grants from the State of California to start the program.

However, it will not require more funding to train staff because there is already a system in place to give additional tech training to the staff. The program can start as a pilot program where the Technology Mobile is only used on special community events. 

Action Steps & Timeline:

If the library administration approves the project all of the library departments will need to work together to make the project a reality. However, if the project is not approved then the project can be revised and purchase a smaller car with less technology equipment. A smaller vehicle will require fewer staff and will be more cost-efficient to operate.

Assuming that the project is approved the way was originally intended, the timeline would be between one to two years depending on how fast we can get a company to start working on customizing the vehicle. 

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:

The libraries already have staff members train in technology it would only be a matter of recruiting the right staff members within the library system work on this project. However, since the staff is required to be out in the community it will be required a rotating system to minimize that impact within the libraries. 

The Technology Mobile can rotate libraries every month to allow all the libraries to pilot the program in their communities. The project can be implemented with one full-time and a part-time staff member. If the program is successful the number of staff members can be increased in the future based on need.

Training for this Technology or Service:

The training of the staff would not be difficult because of most of the staff its use to helping patrons with technology questions. If more specific training it’s required we have a team in place to provide additional training. It would only take about a month for the staff to be trained to get out in the community helping patrons.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:

The county has many ways in which it can promote The Technology Mobile. It can wrap the vehicle with the SMCL logo and promote the new service in the SMCL website. The promotional information can also be included in blogs and/or tag other organizations on social media. Partnering with schools and community businesses will also help give visibility to the new service. Furthermore, the service can be promoted in libraries events by making announcements and by placing signage at the front desk and door entrances of all SMCL branch locations. 

Evaluation: Evaluation criteria will include:

· The number of patrons help each time the Technology Mobile is out in the community (this will help determine the number of staff need it each event)

· Patron satisfaction (this will be measured with surveys and patrons verbal communication)

· Feedback from staff members (this will be determined if additional training is needed)

It would not take long for the Technology Mobile program to be a success because patrons in San Mateo County are used to getting services from the Book Mobile.

The Technology Mobile will be a great addition to the many services already provided and it would not take long for patrons to get familiar with its services.

In the article by John B. Horrigan Libraries at the crossroads, we can get an idea of how patrons feel about technology and libraries. In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, “ 78% of those 16 and older say libraries should “definitely” offer programs to teach people how to use digital tools such as computers, smartphones, and apps.” Horrigan, J.B. (2015). 

This program will be evaluated based on how many patrons we reach per event and how many technology items patrons checkout per month. 

If the program is successful we can buy one or two more Technology Mobiles so we can serve multiple communities at the same time. By creating these types of services, libraries will extend their reach in the community and will gain the community’s trust by providing services and access where it is needed the most.


Poushter, J. (2016). Smartphone ownership. Retrieve from http://s1.pulso.cl/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2258581.pdf

Scml.org (2020) Retrieved from https://smcl.org/

Stephens, M. (2016). Dream. Explore. Experiment. Retrieve from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=dream-explore-experiment-office-hours

Horrigan, J.B. (2015). Libraries at the crossroads. Retrieve from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2015/09/15/libraries-at-the-crossroads/

Zickuhr, K. (2014). Public libraries and technology: From ‘houses of knowledge’ to ‘houses of access.’ Retrieve from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2014/07/09/public-libraries-and-technology-from-houses-of-knowledge-to-houses-of-access/


  1. Hi Ismael,

    I love this idea! It totally makes sense as libraries are looking to offer more services that go beyond the walls of the library.

    There are so many groups, schools, and community centers that would love to have a resource like a Mobile Technology vehicle staffed with tech experts. This thought I have is silly, but it’s like the Ghostbusters making neighborhood visits, except it’s insanely smart Tech Experts paying visits to help bridge the digital divide! Genius work, I hope this happens for you.

    Just two questions for you, what kind of mobile tech vehicle would you like to have & what kind of computers do you want tech experts to be using during outreach?

  2. @davidvargas01 I was thinking to have a Maker Mobile type of vehicle with build-in technology. The technology Mobile should be equipt with iPads, iPhones, Tablets, Android devices, and both Windows and IOS computers. The services will evolve as we serve the community. It’s going to be technology and community-driven.

    David, thank you for reading my blog.

  3. @ismael I love how you are open to evolving the service based on community feedback. That’s totally essential! I’m also a geek for anything Apple makes, so glad you are incorporating something for Mac people!


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