Knowledge resources in print media, traditionally housed in libraries, have been a major target for digitization in recent years. Content in digital format is omnipresent across a range of devices in a myriad of formats and platforms, and conceptualized by players of all sizes, including the giants Amazon, Apple, and Google.
Libraries play an important role in society. One study showed at least 69 percent of the American population fourteen years or older visited the library at least once in the previous year. Libraries are in the process of figuring out what their offerings will be in this digital content age, what impact technology will have on them, and how they can retain their traditional mission as a physical place where people are drawn to seek knowledge. This is not an easy question to answer, and the debate is ongoing.
Some prominent moves we’ve seen in libraries that embrace the digital revolution include digitized content where printed material is available in varied electronic formats accessible across devices, online databases of new and existing content, a web-based library access system enabling users to avail the library’s services online, and in-library computer terminals/kiosks for free public Internet access.
Companies that specialize in library software—such as Cengage, EBSCO, and ProQuest—cover the whole gamut of software development for the library domain. When it comes to testing, it is important to understand what it takes to test for the publishing and digitization world, as they can be quite different from testing for a regular web application.
Whether you are a tester in a field that touches the library domain or not, you can proactively contribute your time and expertise to help empower libraries on the road to digitization through volunteering to:
- Help local libraries adopt new technologies—devices, applications, platforms, content and learning management systems, etc.
- Test the library's online databases
- Test the library’s website including online scheduling programs
- Create and perform user acceptance testing plans for new content and databases that are introduced to the system
- Test for converted and digitized content from usability and accessibility standpoints
- Work with librarians and users who may not be technology savvy by being in the library to help them use new software and to answer questions
In my local library I have seen notices that student volunteers would be available twice a week to help students with their assignments. The idea behind such a tester volunteer program is that one contributes to the community—promoting and sharing knowledge—and in turn sharpens her own testing skills.
Such proactive steps go a long way toward distinguishing a valued tester from the rest. And when this is driven by an organization as a whole, the organization can effectively serve its corporate social responsibility mission and help to positively drive its business.
As director of engagement, Rajini Padmanaban leads the engagement and relationship management for some of QA InfoTech's largest and most strategic accounts. She has more than twelve years of professional experience, primarily in the software quality assurance space. Rajini actively advocates software quality assurance through evangelistic activities including blogging on test trends, technologies, and best practices; providing insights on software testing to analyst firms such as Gartner, IDC; and speaking at the STAR conferences run by SQE.