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Technological innovation in libraries

Pei-Chun Lee (Graduate Institute of Library, Information and Archival Studies, National Chengchi University, Taipei City, Taiwan)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 13 October 2020

Issue publication date: 21 June 2021




The purpose of this study was to identify technological innovation in libraries and further examine the knowledge source and their effects during the technology life cycle (TLC).


This paper discusses the technological innovation taking place in libraries. Patent citation analysis was used to capture the trend of technological innovation associated with libraries.


The findings are as follows: (1) library technologies are now in the ascent phase of their life cycles; (2) private companies from the United States, Germany, France, Japan and the United Kingdom are the top-five owners of intellectual property rights associated with library technology and (3) patent data along with knowledge and technology indicators can be interpreted in the light of library development. The knowledge source with the highest degree of scientific and technological orientation was identified as basic material chemistry. The major technological categories that have received the greatest knowledge effect from library-associated technological innovation are chemistry, electrical engineering, instruments, mechanical engineering, with other fields (civil engineering and furniture, games) being subject to less effect.

Research limitations/implications

There are two research limitations in this study. First, the results use single informants, patents retrieved from United States Patent and Trademark Office, as the source of data. Second, this study uses patent citation measures for exploring the knowledge source and effect of technological innovation, these measures are only subjective for those new invention highly based technological advances. This study concludes that technological innovation for libraries will be characterized by an increasing role for science-intensive and interdisciplinary areas. This study also suggests that organizational learning facilitates innovation. Therefore, a library hoping to co-evolve with dynamic environment through technological innovation should improve its organizational learning processes.

Practical implications

Theories of technology-push and demand-pull were examined in relation to technological innovation taking place in libraries. The TLC analysis indicated that library technology is mainly in the ascent stage, suggesting that libraries have not achieved the strongest technological transformation. The findings suggest that the importance of demand-pull and technology-push vary over the TLC of libraries.

Social implications

To survive in a dynamic environment library must be able to cope with increasing complexity and high-speed technological change. It is pivotal to integrate the views of users (as customers), software houses or design companies (as suppliers) as well as other libraries (as communities) into the sustainable development strategy of a library. In these contexts, libraries with the capacity to innovate will be able to respond to new demands faster and to invent and provide new services better than noninnovative libraries.


Analysis based on the technological innovation perspective to identify the future development of libraries is still lacking. This paper seeks to identify the technological innovation employed in libraries to accommodate the 21st century model of information-seeking behavior. This study identifies a variety of factors that have influenced the transformation of library services, and these include technology developments and new demands from library users. To illustrate the driving forces of technology-push in libraries, this paper examines holistic-patented technologies invented for libraries.



Funding: Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan. (MOST 109-2410-H-004 -098 -MY2).


Lee, P.-C. (2021), "Technological innovation in libraries", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 39 No. 2, pp. 574-601.



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