Library and Systems Staff:
From a Rocky to a Rock Solid Relationship
More than Equipment
Library Systems Administrator
SECOND SPEAKER, Eric Willis, who is responsible for all aspects of library systems at CSU Northridge, has worked in an organization where systems have been merged and separated from the library organization. He presented a different focus from that of Carl Bengston.
The explosion in the use of technologies in the library involves people and organizational issues. Libraries have always been early adopters of technology, and this in turn has led us to be overwhelmed by it. He felt that technology did not need to be adopted at every juncture, but could be adapted as needed. Systems should be a service organization, because in the long term technology is about a tool that people can use. Most problems stemmed from poor communication. Librarians had limited contact with systems staff--generally only when problems arose. These limited contacts brought out the differences in focus. He stressed that a concept to emphasize is "we're all library staff." Familiarity breeds respect, and we should manage our relationships with one another. Both groups need to set achievable goals, and report progress regularly. The library staff must have realistic expectations.
Issues which need to be considered on both sides: What are technical support functions? Who does the purchasing? How to migrate to new systems? What about security issues? How can the disparity of technical knowledge between the two groups be reduced?
In conclusion, both groups should make an effort to get along and to benefit from the relative strengths each group brings to this collaboration.
Follow-up questions were moderated by Vicki Bloom, UC Riverside, Rivera Library.
Libraries of The Claremont Colleges
Dorothy F. Potter
Pasadena City College