Every afternoon after 3 P.M., it takes 40 seconds to pull up Google or CNN. Your staff has to wait until the next morning to send cataloging records to a remote branch. Video or audio downloads are out of the question. Your first response might be, “Buy more bandwidth!” and that’s not a bad idea at all, but you might not have enough money to buy more bandwidth. Moreover, some libraries are finding that patrons will fill up everything they’re given. Double your bandwidth, and a month later it’s slow again after 3 P.M.
Wide area networking refers to the interconnection of geographically dispersed offices separated by public rights-of-way. The Internet is actually a huge wide area network (WAN), and if your branches are all online, they’re technically already part of the same WAN. However, the Internet lacks the reliability, security and bandwidth that companies need for certain sensitive data and critical applications. In a library context, circulation records, cataloging records and financial records shouldn’t be sent over the public Internet unless they’re encrypted.
Security policies provide the road map for how to protect your network. These guidelines include the acceptable use of technical resources, the security requirements and why a particular policy exists. Without the clear guidelines from a security policy, your library runs the risk of inconsistent implementation of security. The process of creating a security policy provides a unique opportunity to understand the details of your organization’s network.
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?
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.