Budgeting, finding the right solution, finding the person with the expertise to help, having the hardware, creating the plan…these are some of the issues libraries face when talking about technology. One organization that really shines in helping libraries in these areas is Tech Soup, specifically, Tech Soup for Libraries. TechSoup for Libraries specifically addresses the technology needs of public libraries through software, hardware, webinars, best practices, ideas and stories from other libraries, and how-tos. Much of it is free, though the hardware and the software has a very small administrative fee. They can offer these things so cheaply because they collect bulk donations from corporations. Seriously, Microsoft Office for $29… it is a very small fee. Beyond discounted tech products, Tech Soup’s free Learning Resources are invaluable in the field.
The first time I saw one of their Cookbooks, back in 2008, I was working at a small rural library and had fallen into becoming the Tech guy – an “accidental techie.” With the tips and techniques published in their “Cookbooks“, which cover everything from troubleshooting to setting up wireless networks, I was set! The Cookbooks were developed as part of the MaintainIT Project, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and managed by TechSoup. The Project gathered stories from public libraries about how they support their public computers and turned them into practical information and solutions that can be applied in any library setting.
Fast forward a bit over a decade and they are still at it. They have many online articles and how-tos designed for libraries and for folks like me who aren’t full-time IT professionals but are interested in, or responsible for, technology at a library.
Tech Soup is definitely a resource to include in your Bag of Tricks. As we talked about in other parts of this Bag of Tricks series, having resources at your fingertips and a basic familiarity with up-and-coming technology can come in very handy for better serving patrons and can also give you a bit more confidence. While I suggest that you create your own Bag of Tricks, I have an example Bag of Trick to get you started at https://padlet.com/kieran/CSLSHAREANDLEARN.