I thought I would start my involvement with The Room of Infinite Diligence by talking about a topic dear to my heart, the use of I.T.C in libraries and who dictates development and possibilities. You see, I come from this crazy place where I believe that the business should dictate what I.T developments occur and the I.T departments should provide advice and solutions to achieve these aims. I see I.T, like H.R as a support service. Indeed, I manage a I.T within in a library system and I see my department as a support service as well. Sadly, in my experience it is seldom this way where organisational IT policies and aims often prescribe what business units (including libraries) can and cannot do, rather than seek to support their aims.
Libraries are frequently pushing the edge of I.T/Digital Technology use and often have needs quite different from the rest of the organisation. Because libraries were extremely early adopters of I.T within a lot of organisations we often had quite a free reign. In the last 10 years, however, as organisations have come up to speed on the use of networked apps, internet use and infrastructure management, it is getting a lot harder for libraries to maintain control over their I.T. The nice man or woman from I.T knocking on your door saying they will look after your I.T needs, is not always as customer orientated as they might seem.
A policy which restricts the use of certain technologies or access to certain sites, while making sense in the rest of the organisation, can frequently stop libraries from carrying out or expanding their core business. The argument is often made that those controlling the IT infrastructure are protecting the organisation from both external attacks and damage caused by internal misuse. This combined with an organisation wide policy which they are reluctant to make exceptions from, can make life extremely difficult for us to work in the connected world that libraries find themselves inhabiting. I believe that an organisation that allows security concerns to dictate the development of technology resources will always fail to meet the needs of its business and indeed is failing in the delivery of it’s I.T infrastructure.
The challenge? How do we as librarians, advocate for and ensure that libraries are able to control their own I.T destiny? I am not sure I have any of the answers yet, but I know we need to make sure that we continue to work to ensure we can achieve this.