Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Systems Administration: How to Avoid Reinventing the Wheel

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Systems Administration: How to Avoid Reinventing the Wheel

Article excerpt

I'm the systems administrator in my library, and when I'm faced with a problem, I usually look for existing solutions so I don't have to "reinvent the wheel." A good way to avoid this is to learn from the experience of others. I expect to learn a great deal from the articles in this issue of CIL. The Internet is also a great resource because people use it so readily to share information, and I often go online looking for help and advice.

What Is a Systems Librarian?

Systems librarians like myself often wonder how we should define ourselves. Are we librarians who know something about computers, or are we computer professionals who know something about libraries? Eric Lease Morgan, former CIL columnist colleague, has written an essay entitled "On Being a Systems Librarian" in which he describes himself as a "librarian first and computer user second." The article appears on his Web site and should be required reading for all new systems librarians. Another article that also attempts to define the job of the systems librarian is "So You Want to Be a Systems Librarian: What's It All About?" by Susan Leyde. This article is a feature in the Feliciter, a publication of the Canadian Library Association.

A new site created specifically for systems librarians was under construction at the time I was writing this column. Cheryl Bower is creating SystemsLibrarian.Net as a project for a class in a master of science in administration, nonprofit management, degree program. The version currently online is a trial version. The mission of the site is "to help libraries address the challenges presented by computerrelated technology while more fully exploiting the opportunities." The site's proposed plans for development are available to view, and there is an e-mail link to the systems administrator for feedback. Librarians and others interested in developing content for SystemsLibrarian.Net are urged to contact the site's administrator. This site could become a great resource for systems librarians and also for others involved in making decisions about information technology, including library directors, board members, and Friends. We Often Consult with

Our Colleagues Online

Many of us find that we're the only ones in our libraries with technical expertise. While the other librarians can consult with their in-house colleagues on difficult reference or cataloging questions, those of us with systems expertise often have no one with whom to discuss a vexing technical problem. To fill this void, many of us have turned to electronic mailing lists to find colleagues who deal with similar issues.

There are several discussion lists that can be helpful resources. You can find an annotated list of these mailing lists on the Internet Library for Librarians site, on a page devoted to library automation mailing lists and newsgroups. There is a brief description of the purpose of each list, complete subscription instructions, and a convenient e-mail link to each list's subscription address. Systems librarians will find a list just for them-SYSLIB-L-but they might also be interested in LIBNT-L if they are managing a Windows NT network, or any of the others on specific topics such as CD-ROMs, regional networks, or computer lab management.

The Web has become a significant presence in libraries, and systems librarians are often charged with managing public access to the Web, maintaining the catalog and other library resources online, and designing and maintaining the library's Web site. The Web4Lib electronic discussion list was created to help librarians deal with these new responsibilities. …

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