Answer to Do librarians often encounter communication problems with IT services ?


Try to do the systems thinking. Know what you want a service to look like and provide step-by-step directions to IT to get you there.

Try to escalate your problems to the highest level you can reach.

Advocate for a more open IT system (Linux servers, Web standards, granular user permissions, an open CMS, etc)

Don’t accept ‘good enough’. Keep the ticket open in their Customer management system until it works the way you need it to work.

Try to get the tools to do most of the troubleshooting yourself.

Don’t believe everything they tell you.

Cherish any IT contact that exhibits systems thinking skills.

Learn the vocabulary. Create a cross-walk if you need to, but it helps immensely if you can speak geek.

Keep examples from other libraries handy, often an IT guy can figure out what you want based on a visual example or by looking at the code from another institution.

I’d also recommend using hosted services whenever they fit within your libraries mission. Something like a patron database really needs to be onsite (or as part of the institutional ActiveDirectory/LDAP server administered by IT which is far better) but library guides, a finding tool,  your library blog, even your library webpage can be managed on remote servers in many cases. While you do lose a little autonomy by using hosted service, you often gain ease of use and a chance to build capacity as more people participate in creating and updating library online resources.

Originally posted on Quora


Answer to What are the best resources on creating data taxonomies? – Quora

I’d suggest building off of the work of an existing XML vocabulary if your client is in one of the major industries that have pre-existing data taxonomies built.

I’ve heard that the Google Search Appliance does do a competent job, you can augment it with help from a professional taxonomist.

Also, depending on your client, you might want to include the government vocabularies like NAICS codes.

A lot of this depends on which documents you are indexing for search, file types, what industry you are in, the size of the website, legal compliance issues, and pre-existing metadata.

If there is one thing to remember from the Library Science perspective, never re-invent the wheel. A lot of this work has already been done.

via Brett Williams’s answer to What are the best resources on creating data taxonomies? – Quora.

How is downloading a book online morally different than borrowing it from the library?

Libraries are a collective action, downloading a book is an individual action.

Libraries purchase and often pay additional fees for the ability to lend books out.

Downloading is a wholesale copying of a work, more akin to taking a book and photocopying it than borrowing it.

The moralizing of copyright is a very recent invention, largely brought about by governments who intended to control the works being produced. Print books in th 17th and 18th centuries were widely pirated, with the protestant Netherlands being home to some of the most egregious pirate presses. While those same pirate presses did produce a lot of pornographic and radical material, they also spread ideas a lot further than the official, law-abiding presses.

Making something lawful or unlawful does not add moral weight to a civil law.

Originally answered on Quora

What is a Systems Librarian? (answered in 2010)

What I do is essentially speak two languages. I talk to librarians and act as a librarian, and I talk to IT folks and act as a project manager for IT projects that have to do with the library.

Right now here are what some of my duties are.

  • I administer an Integrated Library system on a Sun server and liaise with our vendor for routine maintainance and updates. (Virtua )
  • I administer a campus proxy server for off campus access to our licensed content (EZproxy)
  • I work with multiple vendors who host a knowledge base (LibAnswers), a wiki-like set of guides to library research (LibGuides), a search interface for our catalog (Aquabrowser), a link resolver (360 Link) (hard to explain, but I can show examples if you’re interested), and a unified searchable index of all of our journals (Summon).
  • I keep records of what electronic journals we have from our various subscriptions using a semi-automated tool (360 Core)
  • I’m also the Reference Librarian for students in IT who need help doing research
  • I blog for the library, make instructional videos, have a semi-official twitter account and participate in committees in the College. I write a lot of the content for the knowledge base and the guides.
  • I do a lot of experimenting with new services, then develop procedures for use in the library.

I’m not an IT guy, but I do speak geek, and I operate from a different viewpoint.

Originally Answered on Quora