12 · SPEC Kit 302
the responding libraries (64%). Support is shared
with non-library staff in 21 of the libraries (30%); in
four libraries (6%), the institution’s central IT staff
provides sole support. In none of the libraries is
computer support contracted out or provided by a
consortium’s IT staff.
Staffing and Management
Sixty-four respondents reported a total of 1005 pro-
fessional, support, student, and other staff in library
and campus units who provide public computing
support. The total number of staff at each institution
ranges from 2 to 82 with a mean of just under 16. At
55 of the responding libraries (86%), professional
staff in the library IT unit provides public comput-
ing support. At all but four of these libraries the IT
professional staff have additional assistance from
support and student staff either within or outside
the IT unit, or both; at 17 they also get assistance
from librarians in other units, typically reference,
circulation, and other public services departments.
At the other nine libraries, public computing sup-
port is primarily the responsibility of support and
student staff in the IT unit, with some assistance
from other library staff. The main campus IT de-
partment is the primary source of support from
outside of the library. In almost every case, IT pro-
fessionals, support staff, and student employees
support both public and staff computing, though
at 25 libraries some staff is designated for public
computing support only.
The person who has primary responsibility for
managing and coordinating the public computing
support operations is, not surprisingly, most of-
ten found in the Library Information Technology
department. Other names for this department in-
clude Integrated Technology Services, Library
Computing, or Library Systems. In a few cases, this
person can be found in library reference or public
services departments. Primary responsibility typi-
cally falls on the head or director of the library IT
or systems department who in turn reports directly
to the director of the library, the university librar-
ian, or an associate university librarian. In nearly
half of the reporting libraries, it falls to a manager
or specialist who in turn reports to the library IT or
systems department head.
Public Computing Workload
After gathering data on who is responsible for pro-
viding public computing support in the libraries,
the survey asked what the staff is supporting. A
significant amount of the workload is focused on
desktop computers distributed throughout public
spaces across multiple libraries. Forty of the 62 re-
sponding libraries (65%) indicated that computers
take the greatest amount of staff’s time to support;
printers are a distant second (16 or 26%). Four (7%)
reported that no type of equipment takes any more
time than the others.
When considering the total number of units
supported, these responses are not surprising.
Across 61 institutions, staff support over 20,000
desktop computers, ranging from 40 to 1600 per in-
stitution with an average of 328. Forty-two respon-
dents manage a total of 1,919 loaner laptops. These
libraries manage between 2 and 202 laptops with
an average of 46 laptops per institution. Only 27
respondents indicated that they still support OPAC
only terminals, on average 37 terminals each. With
all of these computers, printers are also necessary.
Fifty-six libraries reported managing an average of
34 printers each. Forty-seven institutions reported
supporting a range of other equipment, including
various types of scanners and microfilm and micro-
fiche readers. Printing systems, audio-visual equip-
ment, PDAs, and photocopiers are also supported.
Public computing support is challenged not
only by the number of pieces of equipment but
also by the fact that the equipment is spread out
across many different libraries. Sixty-one respon-
dents (98%) reported that they have equipment in
multiple buildings, eight on average, most likely
at various branch libraries. One library reported
having equipment in 31 different buildings. Some
libraries also have public computers on more than
one floor of a building, adding additional complex-
ity to staffing and maintenance.
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