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Solo Librarian: Using Flow Charts to Assist with IT Troubleshooting

By: , Posted on: June 24, 2015

My book, Managing the One Person Library, contains several case studies dealing with the importance of computer troubleshooting (found in Chapter 5), which is an important skill for solo librarians to have (given that IT assistance may be far away or not available at all).  Below is a humorous flowchart that deals with improving a solo librarian’s computer troubleshooting skills in a nutshell, given no previous knowledge of information technology!

cooperman doodle

All joking aside, creating a flowchart dealing with specific aspects of computer troubleshooting, whether they deal with computer hardware or software, can provide a solo librarian with a useful and easy-to-read guide in case IT problems arise.

How can a solo librarian create an IT troubleshooting flow chart?   Select an area of computer hardware or software (such as Microsoft Word, for instance, a very popular feature with library patrons) and create a flow chart that specifically deals with an aspect of Microsoft Word, for instance (use of headers and footers is a very popular and often-asked question of library patrons).   It is also a good idea to ask your patrons (or keep a tally) of the most questions you receive about a software or hardware IT issue; then, create flow charts for those topics, in order not to re-invent the wheel and create flow charts for every IT topic imaginable.

How much detail does a flow chart need to contain.   A good rule of thumb, from our humorous flow chart here, is that more is less; the easier it is to read a flow chart with just enough information to solve an IT issue, the more it will be used by both solo librarians and library patrons as well.  A solo librarian may want to keep flow chart copies available for library patrons to use on their own.

The dissemination of information is the lifeblood of any library, and IT flow charts can go a long way to make a solo librarian’s work a lot easier, in solving IT issues for library patrons (as well as being a good resource to learn more about how IT really works).

You are welcome to read Chapter 5, IT resources, troubleshooting, internet security, and library security. I welcome your feedback

Download (PDF, 656KB)

Managing the One Person Library provides a useful and needed resource that solo librarians can use when confronted with the challenges of running a small library over a wide array of different types of libraries. The book is available on the Elsevier Store.

managing one person library

Use discount code “STC215″ at checkout and save up to 30% on your very own copy.

About the Author

Larry Cooperman PhotoLarry Cooperman is an adjunct faculty librarian at the University of Central Florida, specializing in online reference research for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty. He received his M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) in 2002, and has 10 years’ experience managing solo libraries, primarily in the academic field at the baccalaureate and associates degree level. He volunteers approximately twelve hours per month as an online reference librarian on the State of Florida’s Ask-a-Librarian, and serves as one of five state-wide mentors for new librarian participants on Ask-a-Librarian.

Larry has taught his online course, Managing the One-Person Library, for Simmons GSLIS since 2009. He also writes book and Internet reviews for School Library Journal, Reference & User Services Quarterly, and College & Research Library News. He received the 2009-2010 Everglades University Librarian of the Year Award and the Outstanding Achievement Award for Book Reviews from the Reference and Users Association of the American Library Association.

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