Decreasing costs of microcomputers, coupled with significant increases in storage capacity, memory, speed, and versatility, are contributing to the increased prevalence of local area networks (LANs). Networked computer systems are installed in virtually every sphere of business, academic, and nonprofit environments. LAN systems provide communication links within offices and, by connecting LANs, throughout buildings, across campuses, even around the world. Beyond basic communications, LANs provide resource sharing of hardware, software, and information (Madron 1994).
Reliance on these devices and systems is so great that estimates of the productivity losses caused by LAN operation failures for just one major corporation may exceed three million dollars per year. On average, one-half business day per month is lost due to LAN failure or service disruption (Dauber 1991). Whether those lost days occur at a major manufacturing site or small business office, they translate into significant direct economic losses in productivity (Dauber 1991). When library networks are down, there are direct and indirect costs to the library and its patrons. Library management tasks, as well as technical activities, are halted and patron access to local online catalogs or external network connections stops. All the wonderment of automation ceases, reminding library staff that machines can and do ‘‘break.’’ Frequently, automation failures are the result of management failures. There are multiple aspects to management