In addition to ILS administration and web site management, desktop support is another one of my major job responsibilities as a systems librarian. We have approximately 120 computers in our library, 12 printers, several scanners and other assorted pieces of hardware. I am responsible for their configuration, their regular maintenance and troubleshooting hardware and software problems. Our public computers are included in the college’s general lab rotation – with replacement scheduled for, hopefully, every four years. I generally need to remind those in the IT department about our three lab areas in order to make sure that the computers get replaced when necessary. The software configurations for our lab machines are similar to those of other college lab machines. I usually take an image created by the IT department and use that as a base and make some minor modifications – especially for the lab in the library that is used for library instruction. We use Deep Freeze software in order to keep the machines in decent shape throughout the year – this means that we only need to re-image the computers once a year – generally in August before the start of the fall semester. Deep Freeze has been a made computer maintenance a much easier and less time-consuming process. Of course, the image is never quite right, and one of the biggest projects in September is to do last minute installs and make last minute configuration changes.
About 30 of the computers in the library are dedicated as staff machines. These require more upkeep and troubleshooting than the lab machines. While the staff computers have much in common – operating systems, email and word processing software, ILS client software, etc. – there are many specific software packages that are used by particular departments. Such software includes interlibrary loan management software, cataloging software, book binding applications, along with several other types of programs used on a daily basis. Not only do I need to know what software goes where, I also need to know the basics of how it works and how to use it. In order to successfully troubleshoot user problems, I have to understand what the software does and what it needs to run correctly. Problem areas have a tendency to be how the applications interact with our ILS, printing issues (especially labels – which may be the bane of my existence), software updates and security issues (simple passwords, spyware, viruses, etc.). It is often the little issues that cause the most problems.
Desktop support is one of the most vital parts of my job. Problems with technology abound, and I really think that having someone in the building that people can rely upon for help makes a big difference on work efficiency. For this to be true, library staff need to be comfortable calling me with problems and questions. I also need to be aware of situations where I think that people may need some help, but don’t feel comfortable asking for it. On some days, it seems as if I do little else and as if my phone doesn’t stop ringing – and on others, I never seem to hear from anyone. Unfortunately, I can’t predict which type of day I will have. Inevitably, the days where there are many problems and issues are the days in which I have committed to work on something else. Ultimately, this is also one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Sometimes it can be very frustrating, but helping people and solving problems is very satisfying.