Michelle Foster

Replacing and Upgrading Technology

When you’re lacking time and money, it’s tempting to wait until a computer breaks or a piece of software becomes obsolete and then think about how you’ll replace it. Even in smaller libraries, this approach leads to unscheduled downtime, inconsistent service and funding problems. In large libraries, it’s completely impractical. When you replace a batch of computers or upgrade a major piece of software, your budget takes a hit, you may want to do testing, your staff may need training and you’ll spend a significant amount of time installing and deploying.

Getting Rid of Old Computers Responsibly

When a computer is beyond repair, or if you’ve decided that you really have no use for it, you have a few options, depending on your situation. To help you sort through these options, we’ve provided a Computer Disposal The Safe and Easy Way — Quick Reference. It outlines different situations along with a list of solutions.

Hiring the Right Techs

Hiring, at its worst, inspires both boredom and anxiety. Wading through resumes bores us, and the thought of hiring the wrong person scares us. And the fear factor is worse when you’re a non-techie who’s been tasked with hiring IT staff. As with any complicated, difficult decision, success starts with good planning.

Consider the following when considering hiring staff:

Disk-Cloning in Libraries

Disk-­cloning software, also known as disk-­imaging software, is a time­-saving program that creates a sector­-by­-sector, low­-level copy of an entire hard drive (or partition). Symantec Ghost and Acronis True Image are two well­-known examples, but there are a few dozen others to choose from.

Standardizing Your IT Infrastructure

IT standardization is a strategy for minimizing IT costs within an organization by keeping hardware and software as consistent as possible and reducing the number of tools you have that address the same basic need. It may take the form of ensuring that every computer has the same operating system, or of purchasing hardware in bulk so that every PC in your office is the same make and model.

Vendor Selection and Management

Unless you know how to build your own computers from scratch and write your own software, you’ll have to talk with IT vendors sooner or later. Librarians have a lot of leverage when it comes to building and managing these relationships, but we don’t always know how to exercise our power. Getting the best service and the best price takes some thought and planning.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Total cost of ownership, or TCO, is a business concept that’s been around for about 20 years now, but it’s an idea that librarians have understood informally for centuries. When a patron loses a book, most libraries charge more than the cover price of the book, because the cover price doesn’t include the cost of ordering, processing and cataloging the book. The staff time involved in getting that book into the system is part of the TCO of that book. If you look out even further, there are costs related to shelf space, repairs, circulation, reshelving it and deaccessioning.

Building a Technology Team

Have you ever tackled a big project on your own...only to find yourself confused and flailing, wishing you had someone to turn to for advice? If so, you know firsthand the importance of an advisory committee. As you dive into this important topic, be sure to review our 10 Rules for Building and Maintaining a Technology Team.

Strategic and Technology Plans

A strategic plan (aka long-range plan) lays down a path for your entire library to follow, including tech staff, circulation staff, director, trustees, pages and so on. It begins with a look at the present, proceeds to a discussion of future trends and then discusses the ways in which your library will address these challenges. As you’re creating a strategic plan, you’ll be getting an overall picture of your library — its strengths, its weaknesses, its opportunities, its ongoing projects and services.

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