Libraries Need a New Digital Playbook!

Live Twitter question and answer session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Live Twitter question and answer session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As reported by @Nancy Scola of the @WashingtonPost, on Monday, the White House launched ‘U.S. Digital Service,’ with HealthCare.gov fixer at the helm. The new team will be located in the White House Office of Management and Budget. “Think of this as [a team of] management consultants that helps you understand your gaps,” said Chief Information Officer, Steve VanRoekel, who has described a ‘mixed skill set’ model where teams might include a programmer, a user interface specialist, and a procurement expert.

One of those gaps, VanRoekel has said, is the one that a citizen might experience when, say, spending the morning on a well-honed, highly-designed site like Expedia or Facebook in the morning and a federal agency in the afternoon. His ambition, he said, is to “delight the customer.” The challenge is figuring out how to do that in the federal context.

USDS is launching with a pair of foundational texts: A Digital Services Playbook with “13 key ‘plays'” for implementing digital government (“1. Understand what people need,” “2. Address the whole experience, from start to finish,” and so on) and a TechFAR Handbook to advise agencies on how to take a more agile approach to federal contracting and procurement.

Now imagine library technology delighting and engaging patrons in discovery and learning.  We could make that happen, but libraries will need to 1. Understand what people need, and 2. Address the whole experience, from start to finish.  Technology can help libraries move from transactions to relationships and from products like books or DVDs to services like a suite of information services that respond to a client inquiry. Libraries can use technology to address improve the whole customer experience from start to finish, and to make information, discovery and learning even more accessible to all people. 

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