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Advice for the New Systems Librarian – Helpful Resources

Help is on the way elevator button

Well, it’s been a moment from my last offering here on the blog. Fall is a busy time in higher education. While much of my role is behind-the-scenes in my library, I still teach and work our reference desk. The fall semester really allowed me to start exercising my systems muscles: I added new databases to our LibGuides and catalog, I fixed broken links, I worked with our IT department to implement single sign-on capabilities, and I took copious notes about all that I learned along the way.

The first six months of my role, I learned the importance of building relationships. Now that I’m officially one year in to systems librarianship, I’m here to share the resources that helped me really understand all that falls under the umbrella of systems.

Are you looking for fast information about your new role?

Are you responsible for web design?

Springshare Training and Springshare Support: If your library uses Springshare, then the training and support areas are your besties. I redesigned our website last summer, thanks to the incredible training offerings by the Springy staff. The support section is very detailed. If you cannot find the answer to your question, I highly recommend contacting support. I made an error in HTML coding and could not figure out what I had done wrong. I e-mailed my panicked question to support and received a fix within an hour! (Learn from me: Make sure you close any style and HTML tags because you will panic when you see that your website doesn’t show up because you didn’t close one of those tags.)

W3Schools: Want to add some snazzy features to your library’s website, but not sure how? Check out the vast array of tutorials from W3Schools. I came into my role with a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS, but my skills were rusty. W3Schools has helped me get up to speed on what I had missed being a couple of years out from doing web design.

Are you responsible for making systems and automation purchases?

Library Technology Guides: I learned about Marshall Breeding during my graduate school career (hello, Valdosta State University alumni!) in my library systems and automation class. One of our projects was to research some type of technology for a library and write a proposal for purchasing it. I had absolutely no idea what other vendors were out there as I only had direct exposure to one vendor from my previous library and had only heard of a couple of others in graduate school. Library Technology Guides was my savior!

Breeding’s Library Technology Guides includes updates on what’s going on in the systems world (you can also sign up for a newsletter of updates), along with an extensive collection of vendor information to make informed decisions about purchasing. My current favorite feature of the site is the annual Perceptions survey. These surveys provide “the latest data on how libraries perceive the effectiveness of the strategic technology systems upon which they depend for their daily operations and to fulfill the expectations of their patrons” (Breeding, 2019). The site also includes job listings and a systems librarian column written by Mr. Breeding.

Are you looking to get more information about a variety of things?

Listservs: I did not discover the most helpful listservs for me until at least six months in, and the right ones for you can be a game changer. I cannot begin to mention all that is available at there because there are so many, so it may take some time searching for the ones that are right for you. Here are some tips on finding the perfect listservs to follow:

  • Subscribe to ones that discuss your ILS/LMS. My library currently uses OCLC’s WorldShare Management System. I actively read the knowledgebase and EZproxy lists for updates, tips, and issues that arise at other libraries. The latter information is my favorite – often times I learn about a potential issue from another librarian before one of our patrons discovers it. If I test the issue and find out we are experiencing the same thing, I can potentially resolve the problem before anyone notices.
  • Subscribe to ones offered by ALA. If you’re an ALA member, log in online and browse the available lists here. Lists you may find benefit in include the Electronic Resources Interest Group and any of the LITA groups.

Listservs are also a great way to connect with colleagues with similar job functions.

Library Twitter: Social media can be a blessing, and Library Twitter is an answered prayer. Have a question about anything library related? Tweet your question using the hashtag #librarylife and you will get an answer. Library Twitter is a fun name for the collective group of librarians who tweet. In my experience asking questions, I get useful answers and make great connections with librarians I may not have the opportunity to interact with another way.

I could keep going, but I’d love to learn about the resources that are valuable to you. If you’re a seasoned systems librarian, what resources do you recommend?


Breeding, M. (2019, February 10). Perceptions 2018: An international survey of library automation. Retrieved from https://librarytechnology.org/perceptions/2018/

Image: Help is on the way by Cory Doctorow is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

One comment

  1. Stephen Francoeur

    For more than a dozen years, I’ve been happily a part of the Library Society of the World as they’ve migrated from place to place (a chat room, FriendFeed, Discourse, and now Mokum). It’s very welcoming community with members from academic, public, and special libraries as well as library schools. https://mokum.place/lsw

    I’ve also found a couple of Slack spaces to be great in the last few years:
    Library UX at https://libux.herokuapp.com
    Code4Lib at https://code4lib.org/slack

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