Heart and Soul
by Dick Kaser
It’s difficult to imagine today’s libraries without IT. From the back-office systems that support staffers in doing their jobs to the public-facing interfaces that help users in discovering resources, IT is at the heart of library operations. Some might even call it the soul, since it’s the driving force behind so many library aspirations. And yet, it goes largely unseen—unless, of course, something goes wrong.
In this issue, Jeffrey Meyer (Mount Pleasant Public Library in Iowa) gets down to the nitty-gritty of understanding how the computer networks that are fundamental to library infrastructure work, including tips on how to diagnose and fix common network failures. Hint: It’s all in the wires.
But software, which also mostly goes unnoticed, can make a huge difference in the user experience, as Rob O’Connell (Smith College) reports in his case study on using APIs to populate dynamic bento boxes. As part of an overall web redesign, the project successfully streamlined—possibly revolutionized—discovery for students. (He even got them to use databases.)
Nothing, however, says how important IT can be to your library’s heart and soul than the San Antonio Public Library’s IT road map project, described by Candelaria Mendoza and Caitlin Cowart. The library aligned its IT strategy with that of community leaders who envision a smart city in San Antonio’s future. With the help of Gartner Consulting, the library created a plan to get it not only where it wanted to go, but also where the community needs it to be.
The discussion of library IT strategy continues this month at CIL ’19, and our sister conference, in Arlington, Va., March 26–28. Join me as your emcee for our first CIL Tech Forum, an open discussion with our columnists Marshall Breeding, Terence Huwe, and Jan Zastrow.
See you at CIL ’19!
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor