by Dick Kaser
A couple of years ago, cloud computing seemed so retro—after all, we were computing via remote hosts back in the ’80s—but also fanciful. Why would we want to move our proprietary and personal stuff off-site? At the same time, the new handheld devices (iPhones and iPads, etc.) we were buying made those of us with computer backgrounds scratch our heads about why we couldn’t do basic computing tasks such as copy files onto them. And then it became clear: It was actually insidious. We were being pushed to the cloud by the makers of the new devices we had purchased.
Initially, there were vast concerns about security and privacy. Where, in fact, were these cloud computers located, and what rule of law applied to them? How secure were they, and who had access to them? What security and privacy did our business and personal files continue to enjoy? And, heaven forbid, what would happen to our stuff if the cloud service we were using suddenly went away?
Those are still things well-worth pondering as you consider moving your library back-office functionality or patron services to the cloud. But as the world around us continues to grow according to a cloud-based architectural bias, that which seemed a bit absurd a few years ago may prove impossible to resist in the end.
This issue of Computers in Libraries goes out to all librarians who are considering how cloud-based options can reduce costs, provide better service, and make life technically simpler for library staff. But as you go forth into the blue skies that the cloud promises, just remember you have your patrons’ privacy to protect and your archival mission to uphold. The articles in this issue also touch on digital workflows in general, Big Data opportunities, literacy initiatives, and system security.
Hope to see you at Computers in Libraries 2014 next month in Washington, D.C., where we delve deeper into all these topics and more.
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor