5 1/2 Things I Learned While Writing the Cookbooks (Part 1):

I gave a short presentation recently on the 5½ Big Lessons that I learned while assembling, writing and editing the MaintainIT Cookbooks. Needless to say, I borrowed these insights from the hundreds of knowledgeable, hard-working librarians we interviewed over the past three years. Each lesson deserves some eleboration, so I’m going to write about each as a separate post over the next few weeks.

Lesson 1. Some libraries are leaving money on the table and other libraries are taking the money (and the table, and the chairs, and the rug…).
Certain technology expenses creep up on us slowly, like a glacier that erodes your budget a little more each year. Others are like blizzards that rip the budget to shreds in a matter of days or hours. Either way, technology often feels like a force of nature that’s out of our control. If you step back occasionally, reflect a little, and listen to colleagues who have been successful in curbing their costs, the mountain might begin to look like a series of little stairs with lots of benches, water fountains and rest stations on the way up. Alright enough similes already.

Places to save big money on technology include:

  • Shared Pipes. See if you can share the cost of high-speed broadband networks with other organizations (e.g. city government, colleges, other libraries, library consortia, statewide networks). The Cookbook articles on Wide Area Networks and Internet Access are good places to start. Read the quotes from Jean Montgomery (at the bottom of the former article) and Monique Sendze (at the bottom of the latter article) for a sense of how much money you can save.
  • Collaborative Purchasing. Read the chapter on Cooperative Buying Strategies and the How to Buy Cooperatively Quick Reference for an explanation of all the ways libraries and other institutions can band together to save money on technology.
  • Virtualization. Read my recent post on the huge savings that Monique Sendze realized by implementing VMWare in her library system.
  • Look for hidden fees in warranties, service plans and other contracts. For more information, read the chapter on Warranties and Service plans. Also, read the quote below from our steering committee member, Mala Muralidharan. This quote is excerpted from the second Cookbook, Recipes for a Five Star Library.
“One of our libraries had a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant to buy laptops for a computer lab and chose the Dell Latitude 630. The tech guys wanted me to get the four-year gold warranty, but that adds $184 to each unit. Since we had budgeted for 20 laptops, it looked like we would need an additional $3,680. My advice was to buy an extra laptop (actually even three for that price!) instead of a gold warranty. These are sturdy and if one does break down, the regular Dell warranty covers a replacement or gets the repaired laptop back in two weeks. In the meanwhile, the extra laptop (or three) will come in handy”.
Malavika Muralidharan
Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records
Next Lesson: Successful Libraries Ask for Advice and Help