Friday, March 8, 2013

Technology and Libraries

First of all, Spring Break starts for me in 2 hours, 40 minutes and counting. I will not be posting next Friday as I will be somewhere between my home in Nashville and my roommate's in Atlanta, but I'll be back the following Friday.

When I worked at the South Cheatham Library (Read my previous post about it HERE!) there were a few regular patrons who I got to know pretty well as they would stop at the circulation desk and talk for hours if you would let them. These patrons usually tended to be the older gentlemen who had lots of of time and lots of life experience to share.
 Two in particular were my favorites, Mr. Wilding (who has since passed away) and Mr. Jacobsen. Mr. Wilding was always talking to me about becoming a librarian, very interested in my studies, and always giving me little tidbits of random life advice (things he said he would tell his daughter, like "If you go to a party, always open your own drink, and never set it down. You never know what people might put in it." I always explained that I wasn't the kind that would go to parties where you'd have to worry about that kind of thing, but I appreciated the thought.)
Mr. Jacobsen always wore this little ballcap with a compass attatched to the bill and when he asked what I was studying in school (which he did frequently) and heard that I wanted to be a librarian, he always said one thing "Get into computers. All the libraries are going that direction now."

Well Mr. Jacobsen, its been that way for a while now, but you're still right. I'm realizing more and more the importance of having a good base of computer knowledge to being a librarian. We've come a long way from the days of card catalogs and rubber stamps and though I really wish I could visit those days, I know I was born in just the right time. I have the curiosity and natural inclination towards technology that has been instilled into many of the kids of my generation, and if I keep up with it I know it will serve me well as I continue on in this field.
I'm currently working on a bit of policy writing that involves a good deal on working with the database management systems we use here. I'm feeling a bit lost, because up till this point, I haven't learned much about them at all, as its the kind of thing they save for graduate school in this field. So today, I've  been researching a little more about these. While I don't advocate Wikipedia for academic research, when you just need to get basic information on an idea, its a good place to go--as I did for this article on Integrated Library Systems.
An Integrated Library System, or ILS, is a database program that helps keep track of all a libraries records--both material and patron--as well as providing a means to classify and catalog materials efficiently and even keep track of billing. We are in the process of transitioning to Sierra, a web-based ILS, here at the Bryan College Library. The basics of circulation are easy to learn, but the full power of this program is pretty much unknown to me. I suppose I won't get fully immersed in it till much later down the road, but that's just one more thing for me to look forward to.

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