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Tuesday, 11 September 2007

IT/library relationships: understanding the IT perspective

Peter Darlington
Obligatory Paula Ryan joke. :-)

Talking about taking a leap out of libraries into IT. Different but a lot in common as well.
Started in basement of NatLib. Experienced earthquake there - fantastic - sounded like train - everything swaying, sewer pipes above heads.
Later at help desk at NZBN. When talked to computer guys then they'd tut-tut as if answer too far over heads.
Got job with newfangled PC network though hadn't seen one before. Access a key issue.Customer service <- network <- join up networks to make a better one
Internet came around at same time as did self out of job by joining networks together. But had learned tremendous amount in meantime of running network.
Got job in IT for money; influence decision-making; make business work better - tech is a great business-enabler.

Why are IT people so evil?
Look up "BOFH" on google....
Tricky part of new job was learning how to be disliked - had to make unpopular choices. Eg everyone using different applications., and he brought in a single package - robably not forgiven yet.

  • performance is king - needs to be dependable. Everything affects everything else like an ecosystem.
  • security - viruses, spyware, etc - you can't do anything but you're safe...
  • complex sstems - new things affect old things
  • cynicism - - coming out of bad solutions. Trying to limit number of new projects because of things falling over.
  • planning for the worst.

Neat ideas automatically filtered up through all these points - if it survives then IT will be on board.

Living with the enemy

  • learning to speak the language - living in the digital world - being comfortable with the stuff and knowing what things can do.
  • understanding the repercussions - two sides to every fence
  • learning about the business -
  • getting involved - bring own skills into it projects
  • learn about processes and projects

My inconsequential view: Informational literacy among customers as important to it as to reference; good at description/classification; letting customers loose.

Comment that need to educate them about your own needs

re building relationships - developing trust vital but informally what about service level agreements? - If you must have them, keep it simple. And remember 'agreement' is negotiated, not forced on you.

often translating what IT role back to clients - how can a client deal with when X blames Y and Y blames X for a problem? Don't know - is in a small organisation so not an issue.

still happy with having combined library and council networks (as library needs less security)? Nowadays can separate network but keep connected.