Four Great Reports for Tracking Technology Trends

It’s not enough anymore for libraries to adopt new technologies and practices once they’ve been out for several years. It’s vital nowadays to know what’s on the horizon so that you can plan for it in your library including training staff, building related applications, and offering new services. One of the best ways to keep up with developments in the library, information, and technology fields is to follow and read trend reports. Here are four that I keep my eye on:

Gartner’s Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies

One of the best trend reports in the field of technology is the Gartner’s Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies which comes out every year and is available for free. It consists of a report based on an image that displays upcoming technologies as they evolve from bleeding-edge innovations to more mainstream adoption. As you can see in this year’s hype cycle, many of these technologies are already being implemented by forward-thinking libraries such as big data, 3D printing, augmented reality, location intelligence, cloud computing, and more.


Horizon Report on Emerging Technology in Higher Education

This annual report is produced in 5 languages and is a collaborative effort between the NMC and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI), an EDUCAUSE Program. The Horizon Report strives to “identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in higher education.” Again, this year’s report indicates trends that many cutting-edge libraries are utilizing such as 3D printing, games and gamification, tablet computing, and more.


Pew Internet & American Life Project

This organization issues regular reports on innovative technologies and their adoption among different demographic groups such as by age or ethnicity. They conduct granular surveys that evaluate usage and behavior patterns and provide valuable insight into how new technologies are being used. Recent reports cover topics that include; photo and video sharing, tablet and e-reader ownership, cell Internet use, and location-based services. It’s a good idea to check their website periodically for new articles, presentations, reports, and analysis.


Library Journal’s Patron Profiles

These reports are a relatively new series of studies by the researchers at Library Journal. They explore current trends in the library field through user surveys and analysis of the quantitative data they collect. They issue reports targeted to either public or academic libraries. Since their launch in October 2011, they’ve covered eBook usage in libraries, library websites, mobile devices, and more.