Managing Mission-Critical Infrastructure

By Breeding, Marshall | Computers in Libraries, October 2012 | Go to article overview

Managing Mission-Critical Infrastructure


Breeding, Marshall, Computers in Libraries


LIBRARIES TEND TOWARD A STATE OF INERTIA IN RESPECT TO THEIR AUTOMATION SYSTEMS, EVEN IN THE FACE OF INCREASING FRUSTRATION WITH ITS CAPABILITIES RELATIVE TO THEIR CURRENT REQUIREMENTS.

Any complex organization today depends on the help of computers to operate with optimal efficiency and in support of the products and services it exists to produce. Whether the organization operates commercially or as a nonprofit, mostly online, or in-person, it requires a well-designed, maintained technology infrastructure to carry out its mission effectively and efficiently. In the library context, we depend on sophisticated business applications specifically designed to support our work. This infrastructure consists of such components as integrated library systems, their associated online catalogs or discovery services, and self-check equipment, as well as a website and the various online tools and services needed to manage and provide access to library resources. These systems work together to support the behind-the-scenes work, in-person services for patrons and virtual mobile and web-based services.

It's not just that all this technology makes the work of the library easier - without it, much of what we do cannot happen at all. This mission-critical infrastructure plays a key role in how the library keeps pace with its day-to-day activities and whether it achieves its strategic goals. I see a library's technical infrastructure as something that requires constant attention and occasional overhaul. Under-investing in technology can weaken the performance of the organization. While overall budgets may be shrinking, a solid technical infrastructure can help the library do more with fewer personnel resources and reap the best advantage from its print and electronic collection materials.

Just as a library's physical facilities require ongoing maintenance, repair, and occasional renovation projects to rework spaces in response to changing use patterns, its technical infrastructure likewise demands constant attention and periodic revaluation. In this month's column, we explore some of the layers of attention that need to be in place to ensure that technology contributes its full potential to the success of the organization. Some of these layers fall into the area of routine, but often deferred, maintenance, as well as largerscale renovation or rebuilding projects.

Performing Without a Net

In most cases, libraries operate without a safety net of fallback procedures for their critical systems. It's not practical at all, for example, for libraries to maintain a physical card catalog just in case its online catalog might not be available. Almost all libraries find that the cost of producing and filing cards greatly exceeds the hopefully rare episodes of downtime of the online catalog. Some libraries do, however, maintain backup circulation systems that can capture checkout transactions in the event the integrated library system is down so that it can be uploaded at a later time. Such an offline system will have inherent limitations, such as not being able to accurately predict loan periods.

One of my early library programming projects, incidentally, was to write a backup circulation system for the NOTIS LMS that was in use at Vanderbilt University in the mid1980s. I developed it in Turbo Pascal to operate on PCs with dual 5 1/4" disk drives that ran MS-DOS, the typical desktop computer of the time. In those days, the computing equipment and networks were relatively fragile, and libraries had to plan for at least some episodes of downtime. Today, offline circulation is one of the very few areas in which a backup scenario is even possible. In practical terms, the key strategy for mission-critical applications lies more in shoring up reliability than investing in alternative processes to be used during episodes of downtime.

Libraries will need to assess their areas of vulnerability and plan accordingly regarding any fallback or redundant systems they may want to put in place. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Managing Mission-Critical Infrastructure
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.