What the Tech? 4 Reasons to Work with a Library-Focused Software Company
The ways people consume information have changed drastically over the last couple of decades, and libraries have changed along with them. As people get more and more of their information digitally, libraries have become technology hubs, providing convenient ways for people to access not only information, but library services as well.
Access to resources related to library programming and room booking can now be offered online, something many patrons are not only increasingly familiar with, but prefer. Technology-enabled solutions such as these cut back on the paperwork and stress that come with managing a library — if they’re developed specifically with the library’s mission in mind. However, choosing the wrong technology partner could end up setting your library back rather than up for success.
Working with a software company that understands libraries first and technology second can be the answer your library is looking for as you continue to evolve.
Why Avoid a Tech-Focused Software Company?
Companies that are “tech companies” first and foremost — those that began as software companies and don’t understand the core intricacies of libraries and their missions — often fail to satisfy libraries’ needs. The Madison Library District in Idaho discovered this firsthand when they turned to a tech-focused company for their reading program management software. The company used technical jargon the librarians didn’t understand, and when the librarians had questions, they were made to feel bad for asking them. Overall, the company’s customer support focused on telling the library how to use their products, rather than trying to understand what the library needed to accomplish with those products — a common occurrence when working with a tech company rather than a library-focused tech company.
Benefits of Library-Focused Tech Partners
The Madison Library District quickly discovered how important it is for libraries to work with a software company that knows and understands libraries. Once they did, they found four key differentiators that set their library-focused tech partner apart:
- Workflows are set up to specifically meet libraries’ needs. Program planning, event promotion, registration, execution, and reporting are all integral parts of library management, so they need to be considered in order for a tool to be effective. Tech partners who aren’t familiar with this workflow are unlikely to be able to support staff throughout each stage.
- Off-the-shelf reports are built around metrics that matter to library leadership. Librarians need reporting that is not only simple to use, but also robust and flexible. With a library-focused tech partner, libraries can be confident that ready-made reports collect the data they need to share with decision makers, rather than data points that don’t speak to these leaders’ priorities. Madison Library is now able to use filters to easily customize off-the-shelf reports to include or exclude data fields based on their importance to the library and save report parameters to be run on future programs or future time increments.
- Solutions work for single- and multi-branch systems. While the Madison Library has one central location, many libraries have branches with their own unique needs. A company that has extensive experience supporting libraries will understand how branches interact with one another. By working with this partner, the library can ensure it meets individual needs as well as systemwide needs.
- Solutions prioritize staff experience as well as patron experience. Patron satisfaction is key when it comes to everything that a library does, but the satisfaction of staff is just as important when it comes to software solutions. A tech-first partner likely won’t understand just how important it is to ensure that a tool is easy to use on both ends.
Madison Library found the library-focused tech partner that they needed in Demco Software, a division of Demco, Inc. Demco has been serving libraries for over 110 years and entered the software realm 10 years ago. Because Demco has evolved along with libraries for over a century, the Demco Software team understands libraries’ needs. With step-by-step instructions and library-centered customer support, Demco Software’s solutions for event and room management and reading program management are easy for libraries to implement. As Madison Library Head of Reference Rebekka Hanson stated, “Demco Software speaks ‘librarian’ rather than ‘computer tech.’”
Download the full case study to read the story behind how, after experiencing technical difficulties with a prior tech-focused library company, the Madison Library District found a library-focused partner who fully understands and can better serve their needs.