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The Accidental Systems Librarian

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The Accidental Systems Librarian

  1. 1. USING OUR LIBRARIAN COMPETENCIES IN MANAGING SYSTEMS Presented by Nicole C. Engard VP of Education, ByWater Solutions 2nd Edition Author w/ Rachel Singer Gordon Contact: The book: Saturday, June 8, 13
  2. 2. Outline Introductions What is a Systems Librarian? Who is the Systems Librarian? What does the Systems Librarian do? Competencies Tips for Training Networks and Learning Systems Librarian Tools Saturday, June 8, 13
  3. 3. Who am I? Nicole Engard ByWater Solutions VP of Education I love sharing knowledge with colleagues Right now my favorite software tool is Zotero ( I am a dog lover! Saturday, June 8, 13
  4. 4. Who Are You? Name Library/Organization Job title Are you a systems librarian (regardless of your title)? Reason for attending today Current favorite software (doesn’t have to be library related) Are you a Dog or Cat person? (or any other animal?) Saturday, June 8, 13
  5. 5. SYSTEMS LIBRARIANS What makes a librarian a systems librarian? Saturday, June 8, 13
  6. 6. What is a Systems Librarian? The systems librarian is a unique breed. The position requires someone who no only understands libraries and computers but someone who can put both fields into context. Ingersoll, Patricia, and John Culshaw. 2004. Managing information technology: a handbook for systems librarians. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. All you need is the ability to read books, the desire to learn, and the time to do it. Morgan, Eric Lease. “Technical skills of librarianship.” LITA Blog, August 7, 2005. Saturday, June 8, 13
  7. 7. Possible Job Titles Information systems librarian Library webmaster Digital services librarian Manager of library systems Lead library systems analyst E-services librarian Head of information technology Instruction and liaison librarian Library systems and digital collections administrator Systems manager/reference librarian Virtual branch and innovative tech manager Metadata librarian Assistant director of technical services for library systems Systems manager Informatics librarian Web services librarian Integrated digital systems librarian Head of application development and management Library systems liaison officer Saturday, June 8, 13
  8. 8. What Does the Systems Librarian do? Regardless of how the systems librarian came to be he/she manages any one or more of the library’s systems Web site ILS / OPAC Public and Staff PCs Library content applications Library Hardware Saturday, June 8, 13
  9. 9. “The systems librarian is responsible for emerging technologies, website development, and systems maintenance.” “Responsible for the support and assessment of the library’s expanding web- based services. As part of the Library Technology Services team, work with web development, desktop support and other staff to continually maintain and improve these services, now the primary points of patron contact with the library. Manage the core resource discovery and integrated library systems as well as innovative open source and locally developed services in order to maximize access to academic information for students, faculty and staff. Lead user testing and other assessment of technology services to ensure that they meet current patron needs and usability expectations. Recent graduates are encouraged to apply.” Systems Librarian Job Ads Saturday, June 8, 13
  10. 10. Systems Librarian Job Ads “[A]n Information Systems Librarian to perform in-house installation, maintenance, testing and troubleshooting of library’s information technology infrastructure.” “The Technical Services and Systems Librarian manages all aspects of acquisitions, cataloging, and library systems. This includes but is not limited to acquiring needed resources in a timely and economic manner, performing cataloging for a variety of formats and serving as the database administrator for the library’s Innovative Interfaces Inc. Millennium software.” Saturday, June 8, 13
  11. 11. “Coordinates, the effective delivery of library services and applications by overseeing the design, installation, maintenance, documentation, security, upgrading, and troubleshooting of library application platforms, servers, and databases.” “Serves as the lead administrator for major library application platforms, such as the Library’s Integrated Library System, mobile app, and other major application platforms. Works closely with the Public Services and Collections to ensure planning, implementation, and coordination of Library services and applications.” Systems Librarian Job Ads Saturday, June 8, 13
  12. 12. “The individual selected will plan, direct, and evaluate the implementation and administration of all library hardware and software. This position will also include research and promotion of emerging technologies that will enhance awareness of mobile devices and applications for both staff and the public.” “Implement and manage our e-resources, Integrated Library System (ILS), and web 2.0 based projects. We are looking for an individual up to date with the rapidly changing digital environment with excellent teamwork and communication skills.” Systems Librarian Job Ads Saturday, June 8, 13
  13. 13. What’s Your Job Ad? If you are a systems librarian what did you job ad - or what does your job description - say? Saturday, June 8, 13
  14. 14. Who is the Systems Librarian? The Accidental Systems Librarian is the one who applied to work in Technical Services/Cataloging (just as an example) and was good with computers (either designing websites or just troubleshooting issues) so they were asked to help with the new ILS and then the library website and then .... The Systems Librarian is someone who studied (or has specific experience with) libraries and systems. This person applied for the role and manages the library’s systems as a chosen career. Saturday, June 8, 13
  15. 15. Which Are You? If you currently work in systems - how did you get there? Did you apply? or get there ‘accidentally’? Saturday, June 8, 13
  16. 16. COMPETENCIES Using existing knowledge in managing systems & what you should learn Saturday, June 8, 13
  17. 17. Communication “[Y]ou most likely will be the only one doing anything related to technology, and your biggest asset will be an ability to translate techno-speak to library-speak.” Eileen Lutzow, Charleston Southern University “I use reference interview skills all the time to get more information out of the folks who are truly geeky, and to help people troubleshoot the problems they are reporting. I also use my web-searching skills often to find answers to thorny problems.” Margaret Hazel, Eugene Public Library Saturday, June 8, 13
  18. 18. Research Use the ability to find the more reliable research resource in picking the right software Evaluate the software Test the software Research what others are saying about the software Choosing the most comfortable software solution is like going to Google for all of your answers Saturday, June 8, 13
  19. 19. Organization Cataloging skills can be translated in to organizing systems data Bibliography skills can be used to document and organize systems Information literacy can help with finding and organizing information regarding systems Saturday, June 8, 13
  20. 20. Training Reference or public services competencies will assist in training your staff and your patrons Use the skills you learned while helping people use your library databases when training them to use other technologies Document commonly asked questions for later use with skills learned in making subject guides Saturday, June 8, 13
  21. 21. Systems Competencies Things to learn to understand systems better: Database languages like MySQL or PostgreSQL go a long way Programming languages like PHP or Perl can help if you manage an open source CMS or ILS Network basics can help with understanding how computers communication with and connect to each other Linux server management basics help with the understanding of servers and basic troubleshooting actions Saturday, June 8, 13
  22. 22. Systems/Databases A system is just a set of instructions Advanced searching skills assist in understanding database structures Traditional cataloging skills give us a unique insight in to deciphering confusing looking data Knowledge of the various types of metadata schemas helps with the organization of data Saturday, June 8, 13
  23. 23. Database Example: MySQL CREATE TABLE branches ( branchcode varchar(10) NOT NULL default ‘’, branchname mediumtext NOT NULL, branchaddress1 mediumtext, branchaddress2 mediumtext, branchaddress3 mediumtext, branchphone mediumtext, branchfax mediumtext, branchemail mediumtext, UNIQUE KEY branchcode (branchcode) ); Saturday, June 8, 13
  24. 24. Reading MySQL This table’s name is ‘branches’ and it stores the information about libraries or branches in the Koha ILS Each field is easy to identify because of its name (ex. branchname is the library name) A field with a number in parens after it is a field that is limited in size For example varchar(10) means the field can have no more than 10 characters in it Lastly, we see that ‘branchcode’ is the unique key or unique identifier in the table Saturday, June 8, 13
  25. 25. Inserting Data in MySQL Using the branches table enter a branch’s info INSERT INTO branches (branchcode, branchname, branchaddress1, branchaddress2, branchphone, branchemail) VALUES (‘LIB’, ‘ My Library’, ‘ 123 Library Road’, ‘ San Diego, CA’, ‘ 555.555.1234’, ‘’); Saturday, June 8, 13
  26. 26. Querying MySQL To query a single table you will structure your query like this: SELECT column_names FROM table_name [WHERE ...conditions] [ORDER BY ...conditions]; Statements in brackets are optional You can also select everything in a table by using an * in place of column_names Saturday, June 8, 13
  27. 27. Querying MySQL Using the branches table let’s query the data This query will pull out only the Branch Names and Emails and put them in ascending order by name SELECT branchname, branchemail FROM branches ORDER BY branchname ASC; Saturday, June 8, 13
  28. 28. Never Stop Learning WebJunction ( is an online community that focuses in part on training librarians. SLA Click University ( offers courses to SLA members on all topics related to our libraries. MIT OpenCourseWare ( offers freely accessible course materials from MIT, covering topics from Management, to Computer Science, to Literature, to Technology. ( offers online software training videos for members. TechSoup for Libraries ( offers a growing collection of resources, articles, and webinars for librarians interested in new technologies. W3Schools Online ( is the place to go for free tutorials and quizzes on web development topics. Saturday, June 8, 13
  29. 29. OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE What it means to libraries and library systems Saturday, June 8, 13
  30. 30. Open Source Software Open source software is software that users have the ability to run, distribute, study and modify for any purpose. Often comes with a built in support system in the form of the development and user community. No vendor lock in No license fees Release early/Release often Peer review Better security More transparency Community/Collaboration Freedom to innovate Saturday, June 8, 13
  31. 31. Open Source FUD FUD = Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt Open source is insecure I need too much staff to use/support open source I have to be a developer to use open source There isn’t an open source application to do that Saturday, June 8, 13
  32. 32. Considering Open Source Evaluate software equally - Proprietary and Open Source side by side Get reviews from trusted colleagues Always demo the software by performing the operations you’ll need to do in a production environment Do not write off open source just because of FUD Saturday, June 8, 13
  33. 33. NETWORKING & LEARNING Keeping up is the key to staying sane as a systems librarian Saturday, June 8, 13
  34. 34. Networks and Networks Systems & Technical Services librarians often get caught up in managing data, library systems and networks that they forget to communicate with their outside networks Use social and professional networks for assistance, tips or just to share stories Keep up to date with what other libraries are doing by watching what systems librarians are sharing online and in print. Join systems related mailing list & online groups. Saturday, June 8, 13
  35. 35. Mailing Lists Code4Lib (also on IRC) LITA-L SLA IT Division - Systems Section SYSLIB-L Web4Lib Saturday, June 8, 13
  36. 36. Information Sources TechRepublic ( includes technology news, tutorials, articles and software suggestions that can be very handy. O’Reilly Media’s ( solid print titles and thorough technical information mean that it has useful offerings for all library technical personnel. Popular technology blogs like Lifehacker ( and Engadget ( are good resources for finding tips and new software applications. Library Technology Guides ( and Lib-Web- Cats ( are great sources for library systems information and news. The annual reports on automation systems are very helpful when considering migrating to a new system. Saturday, June 8, 13
  37. 37. EVALUATING SOFTWARE Effective software evaluation techniques Saturday, June 8, 13
  38. 38. RFPs If an RFP is necessary keep in mind these tips: Do not reuse the RFP you used 3-5 years ago and just add new lines A RFP for an ILS that asks for a web-based OPAC shows that you didn’t take the time to update your RFP Keep it simple/descriptive Don’t ask if the ILS has a reserves module without defining what you mean by ‘reserves’ and what you want it to do Saturday, June 8, 13
  39. 39. Demo Get a demo by the vendor or an expert with the product (if there is no support vendor) Also ask for a way for you to test drive the software without the vendor Vendors can manipulate the demo by showing you just what they know looks impressive, your tests will be more thorough and relevant to your library Saturday, June 8, 13
  40. 40. Pros & Cons Create a spreadsheet or a checklist of sorts so you can compare the software side by side Always always talk to others using the software - for an ILS specifically use Lib-Web-Cats to find others using the software - don’t depend solely on the references shared by the vendor Do not depend on feature lists in marketing materials or on the web, create your own list based on what you’ve seen and heard from others in your network and realize that different software doesn’t always have a parallel feature list Saturday, June 8, 13
  41. 41. SYSTEMS LIBRARIAN TOOLS Resources for an efficient Systems Librarian Saturday, June 8, 13
  42. 42. Operating System Troubleshooting Windows: Mac: Open Source: Saturday, June 8, 13
  43. 43. Finding Software TechSoup for Libraries ( offers software, training, articles and more to help with technology in libraries Microsoft for Non Profits ( offers free and discounted software for non profits FOSS4Lib ( is a place to find open source software specific to libraries and documentation on releases and who’s using what Saturday, June 8, 13
  44. 44. SYSTEMS SOFTWARE Software every systems librarian should know about Saturday, June 8, 13
  45. 45. Virtual Machine VirtualBox ( is an open source virtual machine application that will work on any operating system. It will allow you to try out new operating systems or demo software without installing it on your primary machine. It also allows you to easily support a multi-operating system environment without having multiple physical machines. Saturday, June 8, 13
  46. 46. Help Desks Request Tracker ( is an open source web-based help desk that will allow your staff and patrons to submit help tickets so you can easily track issues in the library and keep a knowledgebase for future reference. osTicket ( is another open source ticketing system for your help desk. Spark ( is an open source live chat/support solution that you can add to your library website/intranet. Saturday, June 8, 13
  47. 47. Screensharing / Remote Login Teamviewer ( free application for remote log in to another PC and screen sharing. PcAnywhere ( remote desktop access for help desk/troubleshooting. LogMeIn ( suite of tools for logging in to remote devices. RealVNC ( is remote control software which allows you to view and fully interact with one computer desktop using a simple program on another computer desktop anywhere on the Internet. Saturday, June 8, 13
  48. 48. Security Clean Slate from Fortres ( products/cls/cls.htm) protects public computer disk drives by clearing them of unwanted files (as well as other security measures). Deep Freeze ( freeze/) “freezes” your computer’s configuration. Clonezilla ( is an open source computer cloning application. Saturday, June 8, 13
  49. 49. Firefox Firefox is arguably the most secure web browser, throw in some plugins and settings and you can make it even better on your public machines: Private Browsing ( Browsing) AdBlock Plus ( adblock-plus/) NoScript ( FlashBlock ( flashblock/) More: security/ Saturday, June 8, 13
  50. 50. Day-to-Day Scribus ( is an open source desktop publishing application for publication of signs and handouts. Jing ( is a free tool for screenshots and screencasting. SpiceWorks ( inventory-software/) is a PC inventory tool to help you keep up with software that is installed in the library. Saturday, June 8, 13
  51. 51. General Web Based LimeSurvey ( host surveys on your own web server and query you staff and patrons about new technologies (or any library service). Moodle ( is an open source course management system for hosting technical training materials for your staff and patrons. Google Analytics ( keeps track of web access statistics so you can gauge the use of your online services. Saturday, June 8, 13
  52. 52. Content Management WordPress ( Scriblio ( Wordpress Librarians ( Drupal ( SOPAC ( Drupal4Lib ( Joomla ( Saturday, June 8, 13
  53. 53. Public PC Management Libki ( is an open source kiosk management application. Install it on your server and on the client machines to manage patron access to public machines. Designed specifically with libraries in mind. Cybera ( is an open source cyber cafe application that can be (and has been) manipulated to manage PCs in a library setting. Epoptes ( is an open source computer lab management and monitoring tool. It allows for screen broadcasting and monitoring, remote command execution, message sending, imposing restrictions like screen locking and/or sound muting the clients. Saturday, June 8, 13
  54. 54. Resource Sharing/Storing Delicious ( is a great way to share (or save for later) articles, tools, applications and more. You can also create a network of trusted colleagues to learn from. Zotero ( is a useful tool for creating bibliographies for your training workshops, for yourself or for administration when you’re arguing for new types of software. Evernote ( is a handy way to keep, organize and share (if you want to) your local knowledge and common commands you need to run on your library systems. Saturday, June 8, 13
  55. 55. Screencasting Video tutorials are a great way to train to employees and the public: Screencast-o-matic: Camstudio: Camtasia: Screenflow: Jing: Saturday, June 8, 13
  56. 56. FINAL TIPS Tips and things to remember Saturday, June 8, 13
  57. 57. Never Forget It’s okay to ask for help! Use social networks Use presentation and video sharing sites to find answers You’re not alone Delegate tasks amongst your staff Train colleagues to handle the simple issues (changing printer toner) Saturday, June 8, 13
  58. 58. Take Time to Learn Don’t get stuck in a rut! Take time each week to learn something new Plan for free time to try playing with new technologies Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s the best solution Don’t stop looking to see what else is out there New things are always released Saturday, June 8, 13
  59. 59. To Read Engard, Nicole C., and Rachel Singer-Gordon. The Accidental Systems Librarian. 2nd ed. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2012. http:// Ingersoll, Patricia. Managing Information Technology : a Handbook for Systems Librarians. Westport Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2004. Mathews, Janie M., and Harold Pardue. “The Presence of IT Skill Sets in Librarian Position Announcements.” College & Research Libraries 70, no. 3 (May 2009): 250 –257. Patton, Stephen. “The Deliberate Systems Librarian.” Info Career Trends, November 3, 2008. Resnick, Taryn, Ana Ugaz, and Nancy Burford. “E-resource Helpdesk into Virtual Reference: Identifying Core Competencies.” Reference Services Review 38, no. 3 (2010): 347–359. Saturday, June 8, 13
  60. 60. AVAILABLE IN THE SLA BOOKSTORE Buy it today for 30% off online: Saturday, June 8, 13
  61. 61. Presented by Nicole C. Engard VP of Education, ByWater Solutions 2nd Edition Author w/ Rachel Singer Gordon Contact: The book: USING OUR LIBRARIAN COMPETENCIES IN MANAGING SYSTEMS Saturday, June 8, 13