As with any other department, your IT department becomes more difficult to manage the more it grows. If you’re the only employee at your library, you probably don’t need formal help-desk policies. However, if there are 500 employees in your system, it’s more important to have some written procedures.
There are many different ways in which you can manage and automate your help-desk…your approach has much to do with your current library environment and available resources. Do you have policies and procedures in place to help your staff handle tech support issues? Are you large enough that you could benefit from some help-desk management software? Do you have a regular maintenance routine for your computers? Are you making an effort to standardize your IT infrastructure?
It may sound odd to you if you’re the accidental techie in your library or if you’re a newly employed librarian, but sometimes, you actually know a lot more than your colleagues do. When you’re pushing technical innovation in your library, how do you avoid the temptation to speak over everyone’s head? How do you put your colleagues at ease when they’re feeling overwhelmed by all this new hardware and software?
There are really only two types of technology conversations: the ones you have with techies and the ones you have with non-techies. For the purposes of this discussion, a techie is really just anyone who knows more than you do about technology and a non-techie is someone who knows less.
It never pays to over-generalize about a group of people, so take the following advice with a giant grain of salt. However, a few themes come up over and over when folks discuss their successful, and their not-so-successful, interactions with tech wizards and IT folks.
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.