IT Management In The Library

February 22, 2007

In a new blog, Red dirt librarian, Carolyn McDonald writes about Models for managing IT in libraries. In the post, McDonald suggests that there are three types of IT models: all IT support provided by the library, all IT support managed by an outside agency or a hybrid model where IT support is provided from within the library and from an outside department. McDonald writes:

This last option is the one I am most interested in. It seems to me there are significant advantages, and risk of major problems. I’ve seen both at work. So how do we get the mix right, how do we ensure good communication, how do we develop enough of an understanding of each other’s business to appreciate what is being done and enable the business of the organisation?

In four short sentences, McDonald gets to heart of the matter for those libraries that have a hybrid mix of IT management. There is a natural tension between library staff who want to ensure open and easy access for everyone and IT staff who are charged with protecting an institution’s computer and network assets. I know that it seems to people that if they ask an IT person for something the answer is always no. I also know that many IT people shake their heads because “those library people” are always asking for something else – and that it is usually something that isn’t straightforward or easy to accomplish (this is my role in my work life). Open lines of communication and understanding of the mission of each organization are essential keys to making this hybrid relationship work. It really is all about give and take – and a little understanding.

I often have to ask for exceptions to the rules, holes through the firewall, LDAP access, guest accounts for patrons, wireless access for visitors and all sorts of other things that aren’t often available anywhere but in the library. I have found that it helps to have a good working relationship with the IT department. I make concessions sometimes – and agree to wait on some initiatives. I also offer to help the IT department with big projects. I will at times volunteer library computers and staff for new IT initiatives because the library can provide sufficient critical mass for test cases. I have also found that it is critical for me to be open and honest with the IT department about library initiatives that involve technology. I don’t EVER spring anything on them as a done deal. In a hybrid mix, the relationship between the IT department and library systems people makes all the difference in the world.

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It Takes All Kinds

February 22, 2007

In his Wikipedia too liberal for you? post, Walt Crawford introduced me to Conservapedia– a fascinating Christian and American alternative to Wikipedia. Wow, is really my only reaction. Crawford pointed out that Wikipedia is deemed biased because of the use of BCE and CE rather than BC and AD and because of the use of non-American-English spelling variants. From Conservapedia:

Wikipedia often uses foreign spelling of words, even though most English speaking users are American. Look up “Most Favored Nation” on Wikipedia and it automatically converts the spelling to the British spelling “Most Favoured Nation”, even there there are far more American than British users. Look up “Division of labor” on Wikipedia and it automatically converts to the British spelling “Division of labour,” then insists on the British spelling for “specialization” also.[3]. Enter “Hapsburg” (the European ruling family) and Wikipedia automatically changes the spelling to Habsburg, even though the American spelling has always been “Hapsburg”. Within entries British spellings appear in the silliest of places, even when the topic is American. Conservapedia favors American spellings of words.

Most English speaking users are American, huh? I was unaware of this fact previously. Good to know.

My next favorite reason for Wikipedia’s bias is that

Gossip is pervasive on Wikipedia. Many entries read like the National Enquirer. For example, Wikipedia’s entry on Nina Totenberg states, “She married H. David Reines, a trauma physician, in 2000. On their honeymoon, he treated her for severe injuries after she was hit by a boat propeller while swimming.” That sounds just like the National Enquirer, and reflects a bias towards gossip. Conservapedia avoids gossip and vulgarity, just as a true encyclopedia does.

I will have to add that Conservapedia does seem to avoid vulgarity. Those who agreed with the librarians and parents who wanted to ban the Newbery award winning book, The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, will be happy to know that as of today, the word scrotum does not grace the pages of Conservapedia! Your children should be safe here. This may also be the place to go if you are trying to get away from news of Anna Nicole Smith’s death or Britney Spears’s newly bald head and flight from rehab.

And just in case you didn’t realize this, “In breton “wiki” means liberal, and “pedia” means bias. The founders of wikipedia were celtic.” This is the last of the reasons for Wikipedia’s biases. Seems to me the founders shouldn’t have needed the 27 other reasons.

Be sure to check out the Consverapedia Commandments

Walt Crawford did mention that one may experience trouble accessing the site – and I have experienced this. The site does seem to be getting more traffic than it can handle.