Computers in Libraries
Vol. 20, No. 9 • October 2000
The Many Sides of Systems
by Kathy Miller

If you have a “systems” job, that’s a catch-all phrase that could mean a lot of things. It’s probably unfortunate for you that the job title is not made of more specific words, because as it stands, people could stick you with just about any task. “You’re the systems person, right? So you’re the one that takes care of anything that has to do with our computers.” This could include purchasing, setup, software installation, troubleshooting, policymaking, and maintenance.

We know you’ve got a lot of responsibility, but we think we’ve covered a lot of ground with this issue of Computers in Libraries. After all, at the core, that’s what we’re all about—buying, setting up, and maintaining the computers in your libraries. So here’s what’s in store for you this month.

We’re starting at the very beginning with an article about how an adventurous systems duo got to design a network from the ground up—literally—because a building was being constructed just for them. Is this a systems administrator’s dream (to get everything the way you want it) or a nightmare (figuring it all out from scratch)? Read the article on page 44 and decide for yourself.

Once everything is in place, there’s always the issue of security. We have an interesting article on this topic from a techie in Poland, who likens his ongoing battle with hackers to a game of cops and robbers. Can any of you relate to that?

One of the hot buttons in libraries today is open source software. Can it really work for you? Don Gourley made it work for him, and he tells you how he did it, starting on page 40.

Then there’s the issue of patrons printing page after page ... and all the related expense and the annoying problems that go along with it. We offer you an answer from a Canadian librarian who’s launched a system that works really well. In fact, it’s netting nearly full cost recovery! You’ll want to read about this one for sure.

Finally, for those of you who have Web sites with long, hard-to-navigate lists of electronic resources, you may be interested in the concept of a database-driven Web site. Rather than having everything coded and “Webified,” this author built databases to hold the info and then set up the Web site to access the databases. You can do it too.

So hopefully we’ve covered the needs and questions of an awful lot of you readers out there, whether you’re curious about the basics or the fancy stuff. And don’t forget, you can help others the way these authors have. On page 24 is our new list of article themes for next year. We also have a new FAQ document on our Web site that will tell you everything you need to know about writing an article for us. So check it out, and send us your ideas! CIL is all about sharing your successes to make life easier for everyone. Join in!

Kathy Miller, Editor

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