Working with IT: a Positive Collaboration

Working with IT: a Positive Collaboration – A Review of the September 2006 NJLLA Program

Maja Basioli, Peter W. Rodino, Jr. Law LibrarySeton Hall University

Developing a positive partnership with the IT department was the theme of the September 2006 program. After a pleasant meal at Don Pepe’s Restaurant, members of NJLLA listened to a presentation by Dr. Claire R. McInerney, Director of the Information, Technology & Informatics Program at the Rutgers School of Communication, Information & Library Studies.

By injecting her speech with the wit of New Yorker cartoons, Dr. McInerney won over her audience. Everyone enjoyed the cartoons’ comical take on “jargon-speak” and the fun poked at stereotypical views of other professions. Reliance on stereotypical thinking about IT, and confusion about terminology used by IT staff creates obstacles to workplace relationships between librarians and IT staff.

Prior to the program, McInerney had interviewed some law librarians, and the accounts of their experiences gave first-hand flavor to stories of the “front-line” between IT staff and librarians. One librarian, bemoaning the lack of help she gets from IT, called the head of IT the NO-WHERE MAN. “He’s never around.” Others commented upon the unpleasant predicament of feeling they need to nudge or nag IT staff to get timely action. Some librarians sense they are at the end of the line, when it comes to doling out IT support to law firm members.

The speaker suggested some remedies. Working on a joint project that both benefits the library, and calls upon IT staff expertise, can build a sense of partnership. Librarians who keep up with current reading on IT subjects can improve their communications with IT. McInerney recommended articles at http://www.cio.com and at the web site of Wired magazine. She also touted books such as The long tail: Why the future of business is selling more of less, Mavericks at work: why the most original minds in business win,and The world is flat.

A realistic description of librarianship requires the admission that librarians depend upon IT staff . But we librarians can work on better understanding both our selves and IT staff. McInerney ended her presentation by encouraging librarians to “go forth and talk to your IT people !”

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