Thursday, January 17, 2008

Clash of the Titans

We had a meeting the other day. It was me, my boss, and 4 people from the IT department. We had come together to talk about the library system, and where we are going from here. We talked for about 15 minutes about where Horizon was going, since the IT department is generally out of the loop on that, and about the update (7.4.1), and about Aquabrowser, and then we got into the list of ILSes I had emailed to them.
And then wham!
No, didn't get hit by a bus. Rather, one of the IT guys says "ok, I just have to ask--what does 'acquisitions' mean?"
So I metaphorically took him by the hand and explained how a book moves through the library. I've always thought that was the easiest way to explain how an ILS works. He gets all that; most people get library workflow pretty quickly, because hey, we've all used libraries since we were knee-high to a grasshopper. But then I said "and there's one other module--serials."
Looks of total vapidity took over their faces. It didn't take over my boss's face, of course, since he is a librarian and knows all about such things.
And I have a moment of small panic: how do I explain the chaos that is serials? The name changes, the embargoes, the missed invoices, the backlog, the missing issues, the theft? Luckily my boss saved me, in a way, by saying that most serials modules for ILSes have never worked adequately enough for a serials department to completely forego their old paper-based systems. That seemed to appease the IT people.
The things that people don't know about libraries.....I never really thought that we had a seedy underbelly, but trying to explain the workings of even our own well-oiled and well-run library makes my head hurt.

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"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.