Want vs. Need

I’m working on the book and thinking about wants vs. needs. Regarding technology, what do library users need and what do they want? There’s another level to this question, too. What do librarians think users want and what do they really want (and what do librarians think users need and what do they really need)?

I’ve been doing some searching on the topic of want vs. need and see it approached in psychological (think about Maslow’s hierarchy for ex.) and in economic (think about your personal budget for ex.) ways.

The book will cover many aspects of library technology, but since I’m posting this on my training blog, what are user wants and needs regarding library technology training? What classes do they want? What classes do they need? How do you determine those wants and needs?

The patron technology training classes I most frequently see offered are:
– Introduction to Computers
– Introduction to the Internet
– Introduction to Microsoft Word
(often with more creative titles).

They seem like NEED sorts of classes — essential elements of basic technological literacy in 2009. What do you think? Is your library offering classes that are serving wants or needs? Have you done any formal research to determine user wants and needs? Or are the library’s class offerings based on informal knowledge (based on daily interactions with patrons)? Email me if you like or comment here! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Thank you!

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One thought on “Want vs. Need

  1. Hey there,

    Interesting post. Sacramento PL just created a new position (Emerging Technology Specialist) as well as an advisory committee related to (mainly) public services applications of new technologies in our library. I’ll be supervising this position; our first step is to conduct a “semi-formal” assessment of the degree to which the Library is currently meeting the needs of our users. Our methodology includes identifying and then interviewing several of the nation-wide leaders in public library tech implementation, mining our recent, past surveys for tech related questions/comments, and reviewing the results of the current U of Wash. survey about how customers use our public Internet stations. We don’t have a plan for a new needs assessment survey related to tech as we will be conducting a library-wide needs assessment shortly after our new Director comes on board in August.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on other ways in which we might sharpen our focus without conducting a full on, formal assessment.

    Chris Freeman

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