This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, July 1, 1998

July 1, 1998 - Upgrade Congratulations

As I've written before, the library recently had to go through two intense computer upgrades. The first was hardware. Based on the experiences of other libraries, we figured that would take about three to five days.

The next upgrade was software. This one was a little trickier. It involved not only an operating system upgrade (to take care of the pesky Year 2000 problem), but THREE library software upgrades. (The first two didn't have much that was significant to us. The last one did.)

Because of the complexity of this second upgrade, we'd figured we'd be down for five to seven days.

Well, that didn't happen. The first upgrade took 22 hours. The second took 17 hours.

The fact that both of these were so smooth, so swift, is largely due to the work of five staff members. They deserve to have their names in the paper.

The team consisted of:

* Kevin Watkins, our Network Administrator;

* Julie Halverstadt, our Cataloger (and backup System Administrator);

* Donna Harrison, Technical Services Manager;

* Missy Shock, our Software Specialist; and

* Holly Deni, Branch Manager of the Philip S. Miller Library.

Kevin, Donna, and Julie were responsible for the almost obsessively detailed planning during the many months preceding the change.

These folks, with a crucial assist from Missy and Holly, were responsible for the jump-on-it effort to troubleshoot problems from the instant the software upgrade was complete. Library software is a complex universe of inter-related functions. You cannot imagine how much they tested in a matter of hours.

Most of our patrons just see the folks at the public service desks. But there's another whole sphere of library activity that goes on behind the scenes.

The one that has the most obvious impact on our services has to do with ordering, receiving, cataloging, and "processing" (marking, jacketing, etc.). Nobody does it faster or better.

But our automated services folks are another important piece of the library puzzle. Once again, I won't mince words. I have to say that this team is one of the best.

Frankly, I didn't contribute much. During both upgrades, I finagled a way to let people keep looking things up in the OLD (and a little out-of-date) computer catalog while we worked on the new one. That's it.

The real achievement was the planning, the careful preparation -- followed by a thoroughly conscientious and intelligent implementation. That was entirely the work of the people mentioned above.

I am very often impressed by the work of our staff. This time, I think they made history, at least in library land.

Incidentally, we now have a thoughtfully divided system of "servers." One of them (catalog.douglas.lib.co.us, accessible by telnet) is our library's catalog. Another looks after our World Wide Web offerings (http://douglas.lib.co.us). A third (not accessible from outside our buildings) manages our Internet workstations. What this means is that if any one of the systems crashes, the other two keep chugging along.

We think this strategy wrings the most life out of our machines, and protects us to the greatest possible extent from Murphy's Law.

Once again, I'm very proud of our staff. To all of you: congratulations on a job well done!

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