Thursday, March 22, 2012

CIL2012: Changing Role of System Librarians

Edward Iglesias (@edwardiglesias) was the moderator for this session.  The other presenters were:
  • Nicole Engard (@nengard)
  • Lisa Carlucci Thomas (@lisacarlucci)
  • Marshall Breeding (@mbreeding)
Theme: Systems and Politics
  • Do you need to steal from other departments ti get what you want? 
  • Do you have to deal with the wrong system because it has "always been there"?
  • Do you belong to  consortium even through your library would be better off alone?
  • Have you consolidated power?
Because of the role of a systems librarian and the interactions, you need to be flexible.
We accept that systems are what they are.  We should not just accept that systems need to stay the same. We can switch technology.

Do you have advice for dealing with politics?
  • Do first and apologize later.  
  • Make friends with people who want what you want.
  • Find a champion. (Library director?)
  • Find an ally.
  • You need the support of the institution.
  • Skunk works may not work in a library because it may be too far outside the mainstream.
  • Be willing to take risks. 
  • Articulate. Advocate. Educate.
Long question from the audience that included "How do you cope with everything coming at you at once?"
  • Be the one that understands what's going on in the broader realm of technology.
  • Start conversations about what is coming.  Bring forth ideas.
How do influence the roles and training that staff receive?
  • Management needs to make it a priority.
  • Go to management and talk about why staff needs to be trained (and when).
  • Be proactive.  Setup a proposed schedule, etc.
  • Staff always needs to be trained when there is going to be change.

What do people call themselves when they are system librarians?  How do differentiate the technology jobs?
  • Edward defines a systems librarian as the person who fixes the ILS when it breaks.
  • He did a survey and found that the names and roles vary greatly.
Theme: Contributing to the profession''
  • Change to balance professional involvement with local responsibilities
  • Exploring or creating opportunities to share information with colleagues
  • Finding a niche: develop expertise in an area of interest
  • Traditional and non-traditional career paths
  • Cultivating an effective online presence
If you are constantly putting out fires, you will burn out.  Take time to learn something new (perhaps a new tool). That can help you from burning out.

Some systems librarians are interested in big data.

Always remind them what you have done for them.  If you don't, they will forget.

If you have been given the job as a systems librarian, and it is not what you grew up doing, how do you get training?
  • Learning on the job can be good.
  • Read
  • Learn through problem solving.
  • Take courses when you can.
  • "Do it wrong until you do it right."
  • Find your tribe.  Find those that are doing what you are doing.
  • Develop one area of expertise.  It will help you with the other areas on your plate.
How important is it for you to get an IT-related degree?
  • It comes down to you personally and what you want.
  • There is much that you learn on the job.
  • Do you feel that you are missing something?
  • There are prerequisites for jobs that you will want to have later that the additional degree would give you.
Theme: Open Source for Systems Librarians
  • How can it be good if it is free?
  • How do I buy.choose open source software?
  • My IT staff/Administration/boss says that open source is insecure.  Is that true?
  • What do I need to know if I want to support/install/maintain open?
  • Open source applications on my own in my library?
Yes, open source can be in the cloud.  If proprietary software can run in the cloud, so can open source.

Open source does not mean free.  Definition:
Open source refers to any program whose source code is made available for use or modification as users or other developers see fit.
Open source v. open access

How do you balance what is the best for you organization versus what is best for your organization later?
  • You need to take a strategic perspective.
  • Gather information and then make a recommendation.  
  • Make an informed decision.
  • Don't make technology decisions without understanding the broader context.  Do not make a decision in isolation.
  • Don't sign 10 year contracts.
Theme: Doing more with more: Systems, Services and Emerging Technologies
  • What does it mean to do more with more in the context of systems librarianship?
  • How is the role changing and/or what does it involve?  What skills are required?
  • Where does the systems librarians fit in the context of the organization?
  • How can systems librarians keep current with emerging trends?
  • What is next on the horizon>  How do we envision a successful systems librarian in the future? Or will there be a shift toward non-professional computer technologists instead?
If you are answering the same question over and over, what do you do?
  • Create a wiki and point people at it.
  • Provide the education in a variety of different ways.
  • This could be a clue that you need a different system.
What does a systems librarian bring to the table that an IT person doesn't?
  • An understanding of libraries.
  • Speak the language of libraries.
  • Understand the users.
  • IT people can learn about libraries.  If the systems librarian is an IT person, get them inculcated about libraries.
  • Key for the person to be a good communicator.

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