IT Issues–Hot Topic Summer 08

Notes from ALA Annual Community College Hot Topics Discussion about IT Issues

Thanks to David Wright for this summary!

IT Issues
7 people sat at the table to discuss IT issues facing community college libraries.  Sub topics ranged from providing services to online and/or hybrid courses; services for brick and mortar campuses versus the virtual campus; getting IT to allow the libraries to offer new services using technology to students and staff; etc.

WEB CT access to databases and concern about faculty lack of willingness to follow copyright laws was particularly interesting.
Network structure utilizing multiple log-ons (Web CT; library databases; portal) was a concern which has successfully been addressed at some institutions but all acknowledged that IT didn’t see multiple log-ons as a “bad” issue limiting open access but as a security issue which needed to be controlled.
Suggestions for this ranged from grouping together with faculty who want to use the new technology as well as student government leaders.  Getting the President’s ear would be very helpful but isn’t always possible.
Another topic of interest was Learning Commons.  One participant pondered whether a Learning Commons works if the Library doesn’t control its own piece of IT (such as access to its subscription databases or web pages).  No one at the table actively supported a Learning Commons at present but several were considering the concept on their respective campuses.
College website as a marketing tool or a student resource with its related corollary (library pages under the control of the library staff or the college’s webmaster.  Most were at least included in the discussions about their pages; the issue frequently was where on the main page the library was linked.  It ran from its own link at a couple of colleges to several layers down under “Student Services”.
Wireless and Bandwidth issues:  The final topic discussed was preparing for students bringing their own laptops to school and wanting to access the library’s resources.  IT views this as a major security issue although at least one of the participants was from a college which has mounted a 2nd “wireless” network for students.  The biggest issue with that method of dealing with the concept is students still can’t get to the shared printers.  Bandwidth issues are cropping up more as faculty begin to utilize podcasting and streaming video in their courses.  When IT is approached about network speed, their set answer is “to stop the students’ from illegal downloading”.  The best way to handle this is to get the attention of upper administration and document exactly what you were doing when the issues occurred.


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