Library DrawingThe CONNector

JANUARY 2000Volume 2 Number 1

Information Technology at Connecticut State Library

Rich Kingston, Director, Administrative Services

Image of man at a computerOften in government, we do not take the time to review how far we have come. We are most concerned with where we are going. This is especially true in the case of information technology (IT). With ever evolving information technologies, we sometimes feel we cannot afford to take the time to look back at where we were just a few short years ago. However, we cannot predict how we will do in the future if we have no idea of how well we did in the past.

The most recent Connecticut State Library (CSL) planning document outlined the IT status of the State Library in 1996 and set forth its development plans for the following three years. In addition to meeting the challenges of the Year 2000, CSL needed to clearly define how automation technology could best be used and how best to meet the ever growing need for accurate and readily available information.

After defining where the Library wanted to go and how it wanted to get there, the need to set objectives became the priority. As government often works, not every one of these objectives was funded and it was often left to the Library staff's imagination as to how all of the objectives could ever be met. With more of a will than a way, CSL set about trying to get ready for the 21st century.

The funded projects moved along at a good pace. CSL participation in the Connecticut State University Library System (CONSULS) was made possible through bonding funds.

The reQuest/Online Pilot, a project to deliver the reQuest statewide library catalog with associated interlibrary loan and cataloging services in an online environment (services which were previously available only on CD-ROM), was successfully implemented. The reQuest/Online Pilot has also led the way to the development and implementation of the Connecticut Digital Library (reQuest). See separate article.)

The final funded project, the creation of an Information Technology Training Laboratory, was completed in 1998 and has offered training to library professionals throughout the state.

The State Library was not content with accomplishing those objectives for which money was available. CSL took on the challenge of meeting its unfunded objectives through the creative use of emerging technologies and the existing, although limited, funding. Although the reQuest project was fully funded, reQuest was not. Nevertheless, skillful application of existing state and federal funding has allowed reQuest to become a significant presence on the World Wide Web. The Library's electronic connection to the State Legislature has allowed both bodies to benefit significantly. Conversion of agency information resources into digitized format, although in its nascent stages, is progressing and will be in both our short and long-term futures.

The State Library has also managed to upgrade its entire fleet of desktop computers and peripherals. Scanners, high-speed printers, and digital cameras once thought beyond our reach, are now commonplace. Not only has the Library established the Pentium class of computers as its "low end" of desktops, we have also been able to upgrade and expand our computer backbone with new servers, routers, hubs, etc. Both staff and patrons have benefited from this modernization effort.

With all that lies ahead, let's at least take this moment to appreciate how far we have come!

Web Sites to check out:

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