The Problem of Technology

As a systems librarian, I know quite a bit about technology in libraries – and conversely about how technology has the potential to be our biggest problem. Currently, all of SCSU’s web sites are inaccessible – their email system, their web site and the course management system. Everything has been down for several hours (all seemed to come back up about 9PM est). As a student, I cannot do anything at all (other than read printed material). In my role as a systems person, I understand how much of a disruption it is when systems go down. At my place of work when systems do fail, it is my responsibility to do absolutely everything in my power to restore them for use. Nothing takes precedence over system failures – absolutely nothing. I like to think that because I am responsible for such problems, I have some understanding for problems when they happen elsewhere. Although I am extremely frustrated because I can’t access any of my course materials, I understand that no one at SCSU decided this would be a good idea. I also have some sympathy for the plight of those in IT working to correct the situation. But this makes me think – from a user perspective system failure has to be the ultimate frustration.

Technology has become our biggest point of weakness – and we do not have enough redundancy built into our technological infrastructure. In my library, nothing has more power to clear the physical building than system failures. The biggest problems include print server backups, internet outages, library system crashes and of course, the biggest one of all, electrical outages. When the power is out, there is absolutely no way we can function. There is nothing more frustrating than inaccessible systems. Fortunately, most outages are of a short duration – and now that SCSU’s course management system is back online, I must go do some homework!!

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