It strikes me that training for and documentation about our new Aleph ILS are aimed at three types of staff: system administrators, system librarians and staff (expert) users. Basically system administrators are supposed to take care of “technical stuff” like installing, upgrading, monitoring, backups, general system configuration etc., while staff users are dealing with the “real stuff”, like cataloging, acquisition, circulation, etc. System librarians appear to be a kind of hybrid species, both technicians and librarians: information specialists with UNIX and vi experience.
At the Library of the University of Amsterdam we do not have these three staff types, we only have what we call system administrators and staff users. We as system administrators do both system administrator and system librarian tasks as defined in the Aleph documentation. Only hardware, operating system, network, server monitoring and system backups are taken care of by the University’s central ICT department.
There is no such job title as “system librarian”, in fact I would not even know how to translate this term into Dutch. However, we do have terms for three different types of tasks: technical system administration, application administration and functional administration, which may be equivalent to the above mentioned staff types, although the terms are used in different ways and boundaries between them are unclear. In The Netherlands we even have system administrators, application administrators and functional administrators, but these are all general terms, not limited to the library world.
Anyway, the need for three types of library system administration tasks and staff is typically related to the legacy systems of Library 1.0.
Library 0.0 (the catalog card era) had only one type: the expert staff user, also known as “librarian“.
Library 2.0 (also known as “next generation” library systems) will probably also have only one type of staff user that is needed in the libraries themselves: and I guess we will call these library staff users “system librarians“. These future system librarians will have knowledge of and experience in library and information issues, and will take care of configuration of the integrated library information systems at their disposal through sophisticated, intuitive and user friendly web admin interfaces.
The systems themselves will be hosted and monitored on remote servers, according to the SaaS model (Software as a Service), either by system vendors or by user consortia or in cooperation between both. Technical system administration will no longer be necessary at the local libraries.
Cataloging, tagging, indexing etc. will not be necessary at the local library level either, because metadata will be provided by publishers, or dynamically generated by harvesting and indexing systems, and enriched by our end users/clients via tagging. These metadata stores will also be hosted and administered on remote servers, either by publishers or again by cooperative user organisations.
Of course this will have a lot of consequences for the current organisation and staffing of our libraries, but there will be plenty of time to adapt.
System librarians of the world: unite!