Different experts have different ideas about what exactly qualifies as “open-source” software. In general, the term refers to any program with a licensing agreement that allows you to view and modify the source code, which is a series of high-level, human-readable instructions that defines a particular program and tells the computer what to do. Under an open-source license, if you choose to distribute your modifications of someone else’s software, you have to do so under the same terms.
IT asset management refers to any set of processes and procedures that helps an organization keep track of its technology resources. At the simplest level, asset management is really just inventory control. What hardware and software do you own, and where is it located? In its more advanced forms, asset management can help you better understand how your staff uses technology, with the goal of becoming more efficient and standardized in your purchasing and decision making.
Anyone who’s tried to support the computers in a multibranch library system will sing the praises of remote desktop software (aka remote control software). Ten years ago, librarians often had to drive 60 miles or more to reset a password or download a software patch at a branch library. Remote control applications allow you to establish a connection with a computer anywhere in your library system, see what’s happening on that computer and control it using your own mouse and keyboard.
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?
Software is the big payoff. It’s the reason we all use a computer to begin with, but it can also be a huge source of frustration and wasted time. To minimize your trouble, consider how you’ll address software testing, deployment, asset management and patch management.
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.
How Standardized Do You Need to Be?
Being open and adaptive to new technologies can be important to both your organization's mission and its ability to operate efficiently. Likewise, being flexible when it comes to individual preferences can help employees work better and encourage creativity.
A technology assessment provides you with a snapshot of the computing environment in your library. It also gives you a high-level perspective on your staff skills, budget, vendor relationships, procedures and policies. A technology inventory, on the other hand, is a more specific, low-level description of what you own and where it’s located. Your inventory might include details about when and where the technology was purchased, who provides tech support, warranty information and the number of licenses you own.