IT-Library Staff Collaboration

Tinker members know that having a good relationship with their library’s IT department is a vital component of successful technology programming. That’s why, at our November 11 meeting, we gathered a panel of librarians and their IT counterparts to discuss positive collaboration between librarians and IT staff. The following representatives spoke: from Glenview, Allen Bettig; from Hinsdale, Ridgeway Burns and Jeff Lewandowski; and from Helen Plum, Michelle Kilty, Julie Adamski, and Diane Cabrera. Librarian Alison Tseng of Algonquin, formerly of Glenview, moderated. Tinker members had the opportunity to find out what they’ve always wanted to know about what makes IT staffers tick, and just how to keep them happy.

Below are excerpts from the discussion.

What kinds of projects have you collaborated on?
Hour of Code

•Chromebooks for Youth Services programs

IT staff, what is your background? How did you come to work in a library?
•Formally educated in IT, worked for corporation, loved libraries and transitioned to library work after corporate layoff

•IT hobbyist who took classes and later got into consulting work and into the library

•Started in liberal arts, but found technology to be more lucrative. Got into IT and then went to library school.

•All IT staffers agreed that they like the environment of the library and are service oriented.

How is your IT department organized?
•IT manager reports directly to the director, is on management team.

•IT works with a consultant. The consultant reports to the director.

•It’s preferable to have the main IT person on the library staff.

•If you work with a consultant, he/she should specialize in libraries.

•Consultants tend to make decisions in their own favor, not necessarily the library’s favor, and try to make their contracts last longer.

How can librarians keep IT staff happy?
•Be polite, adaptive, and responsive.

•Ask for projects as early as possible.

•Try to work out solutions together.

•Consider yourselves partners—don’t consider IT as simply support.

•Keep in mind that IT works with the whole library, not just on your project or for your department.

•Think long-term and about multiple projects.

•Explain to them how patrons are impacted.

•Give ideas, not just technology tools.

Other Thoughts
•IT needs a voice within management.

•Librarians know different kinds of technology trends than IT staff—it’s important to collaborate and share insights. For example, librarians might know what devices are popular, but the IT staff might know what kind of coding is popular.

•“Trouble tickets” help IT because they prioritize problems. If someone asks you to fill one out, do it!

**July 25 is System Administrator Appreciation Day.**

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