The Wacky World Of Electronic Resources & Library Systems

November 7, 2006

Jonathan Frater discusses the complex world of electronic resources in 10 Things About Electronic Resources That Librarians Need To Know. He writes of the way that librarians think of library systems: “But that lack of knowledge works both ways–there are some things our network just can’t do, or at least, can’t do without enormous additional resources (time, money and staff, but mostly time . . . and money).  Even our library’s director–for whom I have enormous respect as both an administrator and a librarian–sometimes thinks of the system as a magic box that works like any ship’s computer on Star Trek.”  I love this last part. It is true that library staff don’t really understand the systems that are in place in the library – and that this can make it difficult to troubleshoot problems simply from people’s descriptions. This gets frustrating when I’m not at work, but have to actually go into work to determine what the problem is. I personally haven’t found a great way to overcome this particular problem. I don’t think that we spend enough time training our staff on technical issues – and I mean this in a broader sense – it isn’t just a problem in libraries. While it is my job to deal with these things and to help people, librarians should definitely have a certain level of knowledge – and a certain familiarity with – library systems and how they work.