Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Technical Skills & the Librarian

What type of technical skills do you need to be a librarian? A tough question to answer. Specific skills will vary depending on type of library one works in, will vary by departments within a library, will also vary from library to library - and will most definitely change rapidly. Most libraries do not have a tech support person in the building during all hours they are open - many do not have one in the building at all. This often requires that everyone have a good sense of basic computer troubleshooting skills. Some technical skills that I think everyone who works in a library should have are as follows:
  • Basic knowledge of a personal computer - knowledge of file folder structure - how to save and retrieve documents (including how to organize) - how to navigate between folders - knowledge of network folders vs. local folders - how to add a network drive - how to add printers - difference between local printers vs. network printers - knowledge of how to delete items and empty trash - knowledge of different file formats & ability to recognize virus files
  • Internet knowledge- how to search the web - what the internet is vs. what the world wide web is - good searching habits - knowledge of spyware and how it can disable a computer - how to use various browsers including IE, Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, Netscape and others - what a URL is - what the format of a URL is - knowledge of domain name structure - knowledge about pop-up blockers & how to disable them - idea of what can and cannot be found on the internet - what the notion of precision vs. recall is
  • Software knowledge - Microsoft Office products and other alternatives, anti-virus software, personal firewall software - ftp - telnet - HTML editors - basic ability to understand your operating system (os) - knowledge of what (os) you have on your computer - knowledge of how to figure out what (os) others have - ability to test & learn new software (librarians are often asked to troubleshoot any program installed on library computers), in depth knowledge of email software - understanding of POP3 vs. imap
  • Networking knowledge - what is the network? - what do you need to put a computer on a network? (network interface card & data cable) - wireless networks - how to connect to wireless on PCs with various operating systems & on a mac - how to determine if internet connectivity problems are network problems, computer problems or web site failures - what is an IP address? - some knowledge of the following concepts: DNS (internal & external), NAT (network address translation), VPN (virtual private network) - what is a proxy server & the basics of how it works
  • Hardware knowledge- familiarity with your cpu - understanding where your USB/Firewire port is - understanding of into where your mouse, keyboard & monitor & possibly barcode scanner plug- familiarity with laptops, tablets & PDAs - knowledge of mp3 players & iPods - familiarity with printers & how to troubleshoot printing problems - knowledge of thumb drives/flash drives - knowledge of projectors
  • Other Computer Concepts - Ability to troubleshoot basic computer problems - primary computer user is the first line of defense for their own computer - knowledge of how to reboot, soft and hard boots, and when to use them - ability to clearly articulate and define computer problems
    Ultimately, it is extremely important for everyone to have enough technical knowledge to know when to escalate a problem and to whom to escalate the problem.

Other blog post on technology requirements for librarians:

No comments: