Libraries and IT: Why Can't We Just Get Along?
This is a common reoccurring topic among libraries, especially among hospital libraries. There is a very interesting podcast from the Chronicle, "Tech Therapy: Why Can't Librarians and IT Departments Just Get Along?". It is a little more focused on academic library relationships with IT departments, but there are a lot of interesting points and questions raised that hit across the board to all types of libraries. The co-hosts Scott Carlson and Warren Arbogast discuss some of the differences and similarities among the two departments. Some of the differences are social (male and female, older generation and younger generation) while other difference are primarily department focus (libraries tend to be mission driven while IT departments are task driven). Surprisingly to some people, there are some striking similarities between the two groups. These similarities can be how the interact with their clientele, rapidly changing work environment, job/profession security and value to the overall organization. I think what is most interesting are the anonymous comments the co-hosts solicited from librarians and IT regarding each other.
Max Anderson at the Cornflower blog posts about Social Software as a Malicious Tool. He describes the difficulties many medical libraries have accessing social software tools like blogs, wikis because their IT departments.
Perhaps by knowing the a little more about the differences and similarities between the two departments we can have a better understanding as to how we can get things done together. I am often asked by various people how they can get IT to listen to them or to approve of something. There is no magic formula and it might take a long time for success to happen. But you will increase your chances for better communication and getting the services you need by educating yourself about the product, going to IT early (before you decide to actually adopt the product), polite persistence, and presenting the big picture.
This doesn't work every time. There have been plenty of times I have sent emails repeatedly to my IT guy and they go unanswered. I wonder if he left the company, then out of the blue I get an email from him about something totally different. Frustrating, unfortunately the library isn't always their top priority. That is when I resort to calling them or sending the email to another IT person while CCing the non-responder. Sometimes this helps.
In the end I have found patient persistence to be the best way to get things done with IT.