Chief Librarian, North Vancouver City Library, BC
MLIS, University of British Columbia, 2001
Photo by Celina O’Connor
When Deb Koep started asking around about how the West Vancouver Memorial Library, BC, could meet local technology needs, “a lot of folks thought all I’d hear was ‘faster Wi-Fi,’ ” says the former head of technology, communications, and collections. Instead of settling for meeting only basic immediate needs, however, she opted to dive deeper and find a way truly to understand her community’s relationship with technology.
To that end, in 2016 Koep planned and executed a three-month Community Technology Consultation, with more than 1,700 participants, examining her community’s technology aspirations and priorities. The consultation included an interactive Technology Fair, so the public and other stakeholders could learn more about technology options and offer informed opinions.
Rather than hiring a consultant to examine local needs, Koep kept it in-house. “We were trying to get people to push their thinking…and it was very important for us to be the ones listening and hearing what people had to say,” she explains. This helped the library to create a road map for future technology projects, including infrastructure. For 2017, the first step is creating what Koep calls an “inspirational learning space” to support innovative technology programming. She tells others thinking of doing a similar community consult, “Don’t be afraid of what you might hear when you ask audacious questions.” Koep plans to continue doing just that in her new job as chief librarian in North Vancouver.