The world of Information Technology can be a strange place to work. We deal with pieces of equipment and services that most people have never heard of and will never see. This lends an air of mystery to what we do and how we do it. Let’s pull back the curtain and shed some light on what IT does and how we do it. I promise – there’s no alchemy or divination involved!
Secret 1: We don’t know everything.
While we are all awesome in our own way, not all IT people know how to do every technological task. It’s simply not possible for someone to maintain the required level of expertise in all the areas that we deal with. We hone the skills we do have as much as we possibly can.
BCPL’s IT department is responsible for administering all of the equipment, software and services that you interact with each time you visit the library and we have worked to develop expertise in those areas. If you call to ask a question, we take care of the phone used to answer you. If you renewed your books through our website, we take care of the hardware and software that makes that possible. If a staff person used a computer to help you or if you came in and used one yourself, we installed it and will maintain it until it is replaced.
Secret 2: Most of the time, you probably won’t even know we are here.
Part of the air of mystery that surrounds IT work comes from the fact that, when things are at their best, you don’t notice the work that we’ve done or are doing. Hopefully, we can swoop in, do what we need to do and get out without incident. We work very hard to minimize downtime and make things as seamless as possible. For the moments that this doesn’t quite happen, we provide tech support.
Secret 3: We work really hard to try to make you happy.
The bulk of our time is spent installing patches, performing routine maintenance, testing software, doing research, and planning projects. Before we install a new piece of software, for example, there are a host of questions we consider: Who would use this? Is it reliable? What about maintenance? How much does it cost? How can we secure it? Does it work with our other software? Is it hard to use? We really, really want you to be pleased.
Lie 1: To us, it’s just stuff.
Geeks everywhere get emotionally attached to their work because we spend so much time and effort doing it. It may just seem like ‘stuff’ to the rest of the world but to an IT person that ‘stuff’ is often a project they’ve stressed over for what may have been months. Some projects have been in the works for years. Even after a new software or service is up and running, we still have to take care of it and maintain it so we never really let it go.
Lie 2: We don’t like people.
It is true that IT people work with things more than with other colleagues. It is also true that everyone in BCPL’s IT department works out of the basement. It is NOT true that we don’t like people. We work at the library because we want to be part of a great organization that is useful to the community. We want to be helpful and hope that you like the programs and services we support.
Lie 3: We like to say ‘No’.
I hate saying no. I dislike, loathe, abhor, detest and despise saying no. IT is constantly balancing the finite resources we have (e.g. time or money) with the imaginative variety of requests we get on a daily basis. We want you to be happy (see Secret 2) but we can’t do everything all the time. Our goal is to serve the largest number of people in the best way possible with the resources we have.
Do you have a question about why we do what we do? Would you like to know what gear or software we use on a regular basis? Do you have a great idea for a new service you’d like us to roll out? Let us know. We might just apply our dark arts to your idea and fulfill your request.
Michelle Foster has been the IT manager at BCPL since the Earth cooled. When she isn’t fixing computers, she likes to knit, restore turn of the last century machines and write. In her wildest dreams, she lives on a small farm with a herd of pygmy goats and is a bestselling novelist.