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Newsletter No.126


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                             Free Pint
         "Helping 54,000 people use the Web for their work"
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ISSN 1460-7239                              28th November 2002 No.126
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                           IN THIS ISSUE

                             EDITORIAL

                       MY FAVOURITE TIPPLES
                        By Barnaby Durrant

                           FREE PINT BAR
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                   a Dow Jones & Reuters Company

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                        Assistant Librarian
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                           TIPS ARTICLE
                  "Health Informatics on the Web"
                       By Catherine Ebenezer

                             BOOKSHELF
         "Web of Deception: Misinformation on the Internet"
                      Edited by Anne P. Mintz
                    Reviewed by Cynthia Shamel

                          FEATURE ARTICLE
  "Ping, touch, head, tail: or, how to become a systems librarian"
                          By Joe Tarrant

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                      >>>  ABOUT FREE PINT  <<<

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                             EDITORIAL

Thank you to everyone who cast their vote for the winner of this
year's Free Pint/Online Information Customer Service Award. We had
over 150 nominations for 60 different organisations.

I am thrilled with the level of response to the award, and the
wonderful things said about the nominated organisations. A panel of
three judges has now refereed the entries, and a clear winner has
become apparent.

We have decided to announce the winning organisation at the Gala
Awards Dinner on Wednesday 4th December at Online Information 2002 at
Olympia in London. Full details will then be available on Free Pint's
stand (292) at the show on Thursday 5th. The winner will also be
announced at the Free Pint Bar and in the editorial of the next issue
of the Free Pint Newsletter.

I really hope you can make it to London next week. As well as the
large exhibition, there are free seminars, masterclasses, case studies
and technology reviews. Of course, if you visit the Free Pint stand
you can find out about our exciting plans for 2003. Whilst you're
there you'll also be able to replenish your stock of Free Pint
beermats -- we have 10,000 to give away, but it will still be 'first
come, first served'. To find out more about the show and reserve your
free ticket, visit <http://www.online-information.co.uk/>.

Talking of events, don't forget to check out our series of Free Pint
Exchanges for the new year. Topics include communities of practice,
city information, intranet management, patent searching, electronic
copyright, deep linking and intranet governance. A central London venue
and new pricing will make the Exchanges even more accessible, and you
can find out all about them at <http://www.freepint.com/exchange>.

Of course, if you can't make it to London in person then you could
always send Free Pint a seasonal greetings card from wherever you are
in the world. The postal address is at the bottom of this newsletter.

In today's Free Pint we have a very interesting mix of articles and
reviews, including a look at health informatics and a review of a
top-notch book about deception on the Web. Alongside today's
newsletter we're also sending you a mailing from Factiva (sponsors
of the Free Pint Bar) about the enhancements to Factiva.com which
they will be announcing at Online Information.

Thank you for reading Free Pint, and for your continued support.

Cheers
William

     William Hann BSc(Hons) MCLIP, Founder and Managing Editor
      Email: <william@freepint.com>   Tel: +44 (0)1784 420044
Free Pint is a Registered Trademark of Free Pint Limited (R) 1997-2002

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            Targeted Science and Engineering Information
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  >>>  MEET FREE PINT AT ONLINE INFORMATION 2002 -- NEXT WEEK! <<<

   Visit Online Information 2002 in London next week and meet the
  team behind Free Pint. Plenty of things to find out about at this
 major show in the information calendar. Free tickets available at:
              <http://www.online-information.co.uk/>

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                       MY FAVOURITE TIPPLES
                        By Barnaby Durrant

* Edgar <http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml> - An acronym for Electronic
  Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system, this is the document
  search engine for the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Look
  through filings by US publicly quoted companies and find a wealth of
  information detailing company results, forecasts, strategy and
  management structure and remuneration.

* Zeal <http://www.zeal.com/> - The Zeal Community offers the
  opportunity to help build the LookSmart US, UK, Canadian and
  Australian directories, which are featured on popular portals such
  as MSN. Members can pursue their own interests by contributing and
  reviewing Web sites on hobby, religious, social, political,
  sporting, academic or artistic themes.

* The Royal Festival Hall <http://www.rfh.org.uk/> - South Bank
  institution hosts classical and pop music concerts, jazz,
  contemporary dance and musical theatre. Check out the regular
  schedule of free events in the foyer or book tickets online without
  a booking fee.

* Mappy <http://www.mappy.com/> - Excellent multi-lingual site from
  Wanadoo and France Telecom tempts travellers with detailed European
  itineraries and town maps. Enter your start and finish point and let
  Mappy find a route with directions, timings, toll information and
  even an estimate of petrol used.

* Legal Resources in the UK and Ireland 
  <http://www.venables.co.uk/> - Comprehensive resource, maintained by
  legal consultant Delia Venables, presents links for solicitors and 
  barristers in the UK and Ireland. Browse sections for legal students
  and companies, and for lawyers seeking services and CPD courses.

Barnaby Durrant works as editor of 'Work and Money' in the UK editorial
team for LookSmart, the publishers of the distributed search directory
used on portals such as msn.co.uk, AltaVista, Tiscali and ntl:home.

Submit your top five favourite Web sites. See the guidelines at
<http://www.freepint.com/author.htm>.

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                           FREE PINT JOBS
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As well as the selected listings below, check out the weekly Bar
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                            TIPS ARTICLE
         <http://www.freepint.com/issues/281102.htm#tips>
                  "Health Informatics on the Web"
                       By Catherine Ebenezer

Health informatics is a growing area that has assumed a higher profile
and clearer definition within the last few years. It has grown to
prominence with the increasing pressures for improved co-ordination of
patient data and implementation of evidence-based practice. In Britain
this is associated with the rising political profile of information
management and technology in the NHS. Interest in the subject has
spread beyond a core of enthusiasts, and informatics skills (or the
lack of them) among health professionals have become a matter of
concern for health policy-makers. Many aspects of it are well 'out of
scope' for me as a health librarian; however, I was drawn into using
its online literature through a variety of professional activities
relating to knowledge management, information strategy, and use of the
Internet within psychiatry.

Historically health informatics within the UK has been an under-funded
and under-developed discipline. It has been pursued from different
perspectives: either as a (somewhat esoteric) career sideline,
'medical informatics'; by doctors with the requisite knowledge and
interest in computing applications as an adjunct to their clinical
practice (well represented by articles in the BMJ by Al-Ubaydli and
Sims: 'search archive' at <http://bmj.com>, and by the journal's
"Information in Practice" articles); or, otherwise, in the guise of
'information management and technology (IM&T)' as the preserve of
behind-the-scenes 'suits' serving the purposes of activity monitoring
and financial control rather than direct support of patient care.

Enrico Coiera, one of the foremost authorities on health informatics,
defines it as the "study of how medical knowledge is created, shaped,
shared and applied". It is evident that this vision is much wider than
just that of 'computers in medicine'; it extends to the transformation
of medicine by the adoption of rational procedures. The tools of
informatics "are more likely to be clinical guidelines, formal medical
languages, information systems, or communication systems like the
Internet". The quotations are taken from the introduction to his 1997
book Guide to Medical Informatics, the Internet and Telemedicine
(London: Arnold, 1997), selected portions of which are available
online at <http://www.coiera.com>. The initial chapter, "Informatics
basics" is a valuable introduction to the subject.

Robin Mann <http://bmj.com/cgi/letters/324/7350/S181> prefers the term
'health informatics' for the discipline, since it crosses clinical and
professional boundaries. He suggests that it incorporates all aspects
of information management in health care: communication; the use of
medical and multiprofessional records; language and nomenclature;
team-working; confidentiality and security of records; data quality
and management; secondary uses of clinical information for activity
analysis; quality monitoring; research and planning; knowledge
management; decision support; clinical information systems and
electronic records, and telemedicine, as well as the use of computers.

It is with this all-encompassing definition in mind that the searcher
should evaluate and use the many sources of web-based resources in
health informatics. An obvious starting point in locating these is the
National electronic Library for Health Informatics (NeLH-Info)
<http://www.nelh.nhs.uk/nelhi/index.htm>. At present this has no
content of its own and consists largely of a list of links to other
sites. These divide approximately into: resources and portals; sites
of official bodies; academic centres offering teaching or research
opportunities in health informatics; professional organisations in
health informatics; international organisations; and specialist
journals.

There is a range of different types of material available via portal
sites for health informatics. Health Informatics Worldwide
<http://www.hiww.org> is a regularly updated index of the most relevant
links to websites on health informatics. The links are alphabetically
ordered by country and location. The site focuses on non-commercial
and academic institutions. Health Informatics Europe
<http://www.hi-europe.info/> edited by Dr Ahmad Risk, a prominent
figure in UK health informatics, incorporates an extensive collection
of articles, a list of system vendors, a library of current projects,
and a European 'who's who' of health informatics. Computers in Mental
Health <http://www.ex.ac.uk/cimh/> provides admirable coverage of its
field: it incorporates a database of software used in mental health,
articles and papers, a reading list, and list of links. OpenClinical
<http://www.openclinical.org/home.html> focuses on knowledge
management; it provides a "comprehensive set of resources on advanced
knowledge management methods, technologies and applications for
healthcare". The Telemedicine Information Service 
<http://www.tis.bl.uk/>, run by the British Library, provides a
database, a telephone information service, and an email discussion
list.

The most useful aspect of the university sites from the external
searcher's point of view is the lists of publications and research
projects that they incorporate. Those of the University of Cambridge's
Medical Informatics Unit <http://www.medinfo.cam.ac.uk/>, City
University's MIM (Measurement and Information in Medicine Centre) 
<http://www.city.ac.uk/mim/information.htm>, and the University of
Manchester's Medical Informatics Group <http://www.cs.man.ac.uk/mig/>
are particularly noteworthy. The Manchester site includes a list of
medical informatics resources and links which is more comprehensive in
some areas than that of the NeLHI. The work of these academic centres
often reflects a specialist orientation: the Queen's University,
Belfast, Advanced Medical Informatics Initiative
<http://www.chi.unsw.edu.au/> focuses on medical imaging, and provides
extensive lists of resources in this field, while the emphasis at the
University of Leeds' Clinical Information Science Unit CISU:
<http://www.leeds.ac.uk/cisu/> is on computer-aided diagnosis. At
UCL's Knowledge Management Centre <http://www.ucl.ac.uk/kmc/> the
focus is on clinical knowledge management and decision support. The
list does not extend to university centres outside the UK; however,
one should not miss the Centre for Health Informatics at the
University of New South Wales <http://www.chi.unsw.edu.au/> which
incorporates the Coiera oeuvre.

The pages of professional organisations in health informatics often
provide useful resources for newcomers to the subject. The American
Medical Informatics Association <http://www.amia.org/> includes
MEDLINE citations of recent articles, a reading list, and links to
informatics journals and conference proceedings. The British Medical
Informatics Society <http://www.bmis.org/> has a reading list and a
self-appraisal facility for informatics competence. The recently
established UK Council on the Health Informatics Professions (UKCHIP)
<http://www.ukchip.org/> has little content as yet but is worth
watching. ASSIST: the Organisation of ICT Professionals in Health and
Social Care <http://www.assist.org.uk> has a useful newsletter
containing survey articles on a wide range of topics related to health
informatics within the NHS.

Most people working in health informatics in the UK are employed
within the National Health Service or are closely associated with it.
It is important therefore to know of Department of Health initiatives
and involvement in the field. The two major sources for NHS health
informatics activity are the NHS Information Policy Unit 
<http://www.doh.gov.uk/ipu/index.htm> which is the body responsible for
the development of NHS information strategy, and the NHS Information
Authority (NHSIA) <http://www.nhsia.nhs.uk/def/home.asp> which has the
major role in implementing it. These rather large and unwieldy sites
are the key source for strategy documents and working papers on NHS
informatics activities.

The NHS Informatics Learning Network site 
<http://www.ecommunity.nhs.uk/>, which is an NHSIA initiative,
incorporates several useful resources, including brief survey articles
on key topics in health informatics. Many health informatics journals
and newsletters are available in full text online: a few, such as the
Journal of Medical Internet Research <http://www.jmir.org/>,
Healthcare Informatics (US) <http://www.healthcare-informatics.com/>,
Health Management Technology <http://www.healthmgttech.com/> and the
On-Line Journal of Nursing Informatics
<http://milkman.cac.psu.edu/~dxm12/OJNI.html> are entirely free.


The Informatics Review <http://www.informatics-review.com/> is a free
secondary e-journal which present summaries of new articles on health
informatics from leading medical journals. The site also includes an
archive of past essays and position papers. A particularly useful list
of health informatics e-journals, giving details of provenance and
availability via the web, is provided at the Health Canada Office of
Health and the Information Highway (OHIH) site:
<http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ohih-bsi/res/journal_e.html>. This site also
hosts an invaluable bibliographic database of health informatics
literature, which can be used in conjunction with MEDLINE
<http://www.pubmed.gov> and Health Technology Assessment Database
(HTA) <http://144.32.228.3/scripts/WEBC.EXE/NHSCRD/start> as a means
of locating journal articles. As previously mentioned, the BMJ
<http://bmj.com> publishes extensively on medical informatics issues,
and includes the subject among its subject collections.

Health informatics is an expanding and rapidly-developing subject with
a huge amount of web-accessible content. I cannot hope to survey it at
all adequately in one short article; I have hardly mentioned the non-
UK literature here, for instance. These resources should, however,
provide a start for anyone researching the field.

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Catherine Ebenezer is the trust librarian at the South London and
Maudsley NHS Trust, where, among other things, she maintains a library
web site-cum-mental health information gateway:
<http://stlis.thenhs.com/hln/s_london/lsw/main/>. After completing her
MSc in Information Science (Computerised Library Systems) at
University College London in September 2001 she has ventured
extensively into print on professional issues. The only Web-accessible
piece to see the light of day so far is a management briefing for the
National electronic Library for Health on the NHS IM&T strategy:
<http://www.nelh.nhs.uk/management/mantop/0216InformationforHealth.htm>.

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Related Free Pint links:

* 'Healthcare and Medicine' resources in the Free Pint Portal
  <http://www.freepint.com/go/p64>
* Post a message to the author, Catherine Ebenezer, or suggest further
  resources at the Free Pint Bar <http://www.freepint.com/bar>
* Read this article online, with activated hyperlinks
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/281102.htm#feature>
* Access the entire archive of Free Pint content
  <http://www.freepint.com/portal/content/>

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      >>>  BAR DIGEST NOW TWICE A WEEK AND IN HTML FORMAT  <<<

 To overcome information overload, the Free Pint Bar Digest is now
  published twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. You can choose
 between a plain text version, or HTML format with activated links
   and table of contents. Set up your free subscription today at:
                 <http://www.freepint.com/member>

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                        FREE PINT BOOKSHELF
                <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf>
         "Web of Deception: Misinformation on the Internet"
                      Edited by Anne P. Mintz
                    Reviewed by Cynthia Shamel

According to some, trouble comes to those who search for it.*
Experienced Web searchers can attest, however, that searching for it
is not necessarily required. Misinformation and deception will often
find you, even if you are not looking for them. "The Web of Deception:
Misinformation on the Internet" is about information on the Internet
that is intentionally wrong or misleading. In a collection of 11
essays, the contributors, so expertly selected by editor Anne Mintz,
explain how to recognize misinformation, how to avoid it, and what to
do if you are damaged by it. Since human creativity seems to know no
bounds, most Web surfers will sooner or later find trouble or be found
by it.

The topics addressed in "The Web of Deception" include web hoaxes,
corporate misinformation, medical misinformation, identity and privacy
issues, and charity scams. The chapters on legal issues include
advice on how to seek remedies for intentional misinformation. The
chapters on search engines and the interface between searchers and
search engines illuminate the opportunities to manipulate retrieved
results.

Each chapter includes instructive examples of deception and
consequences. Some would make the reader wonder, how could anyone
have ever believed that? For instance, a story attributed to the
Associated Press told of environmentalists putting bright orange
hunter's vests on deer in the state of Ohio, U.S. The idea was to
cause hunters to mistake the vested deer for humans and not shoot.
Although an anti-hunting association fabricated the story, it was
picked up and repeated by Fox News, ESPN.com and the Wall Street
Journal Online. More alarming stories tell of credit card fraud and
identity theft with the suggestion that Internet users guard their
privacy with encryption and common sense.

This book is useful to all searchers, and especially those who are in
a position to train others in Internet searching. All readers will be
educated in the pitfalls and hazards of the Web. Most readers will
find some chapters more relevant than others, but each chapter has at
least one nugget of truth to foster better, safer Web interactions
with strategies for avoiding the known pitfalls.

Forward by Steven Forbes. Contributors: Paul Piper, Susan Detwiler,
Helene Kassler, Stephen Arnold, Carol Ebbinghouse, Lysbeth Chuck,
LaJean Humphries, Susan Feldman, Elizabeth Liddy, Barbara Quint and
Anne Mintz.

*based on Proverbs 11:27

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Cynthia Shamel owns and operates Shamel Information Services. She
serves as President Elect on the Board of Directors of the Association
of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP).

Cynthia specializes in the business of science and technology,
offering comprehensive online research services to companies in high
tech, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology. She has also written on
marketing information services and providing online reference service.
Cynthia will be representing AIIP at the Online Information UK meeting
in London. Stop by stand number 352 to say hello.

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Related Free Pint links:

* Find out more about this book online at the Free Pint Bookshelf
  <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf/deception.htm>
* Read customer comments and buy this book at Amazon.co.uk
  <http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0910965609/freepint0c>
  or Amazon.com
  <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0910965609/freepint00>
* "Web of Deception" ISBN 0910965609, published by CyberAge Books,
  written by Anne P. Mintz (Editor)
* Search for and purchase any book from Amazon via the Free Pint
  Bookshelf at <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf>
* Read about other Internet Strategy books on the Free Pint Bookshelf
  <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf/searching.htm>

To propose an information-related book for review, send details
to <bookshelf@freepint.com>.

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        >>>  FREE PINT EXCHANGES NOW IN CENTRAL LONDON  <<<

       All Free Pint's Exchanges for the new year have been
      moved to a convenient and modern central London venue.

           Find out about the range of topics on offer,
              but book early as they fill up quickly:
                <http://www.freepint.com/exchange>

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                          FEATURE ARTICLE
	 <http://www.freepint.com/issues/281102.htm#feature>
  "Ping, touch, head, tail: or, how to become a systems librarian"
                          By Joe Tarrant

Most Free Pint articles review online resources. This one is
different: it's a 'How-To' article which lists the resources in
passing. I'm assuming that people would want to read more about the
hard technical skills rather than just being knowledgeable about
library/information systems. Hopefully there's something here for
everybody.


Soft Systems Skills
-------------------

There's a commonly-held belief that librarians and information staff
go into systems work (aka 'the Dark Side') to get away from daily
encounters with the public. Yet, despite the image, library systems
work is heavily about people. There's no escaping your colleagues and
you'll find yourself negotiating with vendors, managing user demands,
training staff, translating IT terminology to your colleagues,
developing good relationships with your colleagues in IT and
networking at user groups. It's a people business.

Perhaps surprisingly, traditional library skills, like cataloguing,
research and reference interviews, are of real use in systems roles.
You'll manage systems better if you've used them yourself. So, if you
want to end up in a systems role, it's perhaps best to do some time in
a more traditional role.


Reading Materials
-----------------

Good background reading/commentary on general and library technology
issues can be found on Wired, Slashdot, O'Reilly (a technical
publisher that gives away a lot of content), information systems tech
sites like The Shifted Librarian, the dead-looking but link-heavy
Library Geek, the Library Techlog, the library weblogs page, LibraryHQ
and many of the sites listed in this article (including Free Pint;
ahem...). There are good information systems books and journals out
there, like Computers in Libraries. You should also poke around your
vendors' sites and the sites of any usergroups to which you belong
(they're there to be joined, you know). Watch out for useful, free
email newsletters like the Cert advisories on network security.
Join - and contribute to - your usergroup's listserv/email list.

I can't say this strongly enough: there is no avoiding technical
manuals, helpfiles and how-to's. Read them. Re-read them. Get to LIKE
reading them. More often than not, the answer you want is written down
somewhere. It's usually quicker to find someone else's answer and
adapt it, rather than inventing your own.


Hard Systems Skills
-------------------

Library systems admin consists of five key technical skills: database
admin, intranet/web skills, operating systems, networking and
(possibly) hardware. You'll learn a lot faster if you have a home
machine of some sort to play on, even just a cast-off P75 or Mac.
These days, you can pick up older but quite acceptable desktop
computers for under 100 pounds second-hand.


Databases
---------

Most library systems staff manage a database or library system of some
kind. Find any manuals and read them. You should always try to have a
test server running a copy of your library system, so you can try
changes safely and run upgrades in lab conditions without bothering
your users. Handy for training purposes too.

If your home computer has a database product - MS Access or Works,
Apple Works, Filemaker or even an old version of dBase - you can
tinker around. SQL is a common database language and many databases
are SQL compatible. 'MySQL' is a free, downloadable SQL application
for Unix and Windows (and getting it installed successfully is lesson
one). The MySQL website is a mine of information on SQL. Whatever your
database, get a book and/or download some tutorials from the web, do
some preparatory reading and try things out. Start a project and go
through the stages. Work out a layout. Make a table. Add some data.
Write a report. Do a mailmerge. Export data from one database into
another.


Intranet/Web Skills
-------------------

Most library systems now come with a browser-based public catalogue
and most online systems are the same. As systems librarian, you may be
asked to customise an interface, perhaps using a stylesheet to give
your OPAC your organisation's 'look and feel'. Learn some HTML - and
that's hand-coding it yourself with a text-editor, not using
Frontpage or Dreamweaver to do the job for you. Again, there are
plenty of tutorials online.


Server Operating Systems
------------------------

This is the serious stuff. You may have to manage your library's
server(s). There are two main server operating systems: Windows and
Unix. Your server(s) may use one, the other or both, and you may find
you have different versions of both (Windows NT and Windows 2000 as
well as AIX, Solaris and/or Linux). Server administration requires a
knowledge of the tools: using the command line, finding/copying files
and monitoring server activity. Library management system problems can
be server-based, so learn how to display processes, memory use and
processor load on your server and watch them if things begin to go
wrong. Read your operating system's manual or built-in help to learn
how to set up user logins and shared folders; on your home machine,
set up a personal webserver and a firewall (ZoneAlarm is a good
Windows firewall that's free to personal users); schedule tasks, such
as antivirus updates or backups. Download and set up
Seti@Home - a command line version for preference. All these
operations teach server skills.

You'll probably also need to learn how to write Unix shell-scripts
(known as batchfiles in Windowsland). Scripts/batchfiles are
executable textfiles containing lists of commands and are used among
other things for automating routine server administration, such as
backups. Scripting is a basic form of programming; if you enjoy it,
try learning Perl which is a great language for text manipulation
(e.g. database records and webpages) on Windows and Unix. Entering
'perl -v' at your command line will show if Perl is already installed.


Windows NT/2000/XP
------------------

Server versions of Windows NT/2000/XP (same thing, really) look much
the same as Windows on your desk PC - they're just used differently.
As usual, work things out on your own computer at home or a test
server first. Learn to use the Windows Task Manager and the Control
Panel's services list to work out what's happening on the
machine: processes, memory usage, processor load.


Unix
----

Unix has a long history and is as much a culture as an operating
system - prepare for some surreal links, odd mascots (especially
penguins), ancient and obscure arguments (vi versus emacs), lots of
online help, newsletters and beginners' pages and a huge variety of
brands, ranging from Solaris to different versions of Linux and of
BSD. The latter two are cheap/free and very reliable and can be
installed on most machines, from 486s to the latest Pentiums and on a
wide range of Apple Macs. On the subject of Macs: the latest version
of the Macintosh operating system (Mac OS X) is a version of Unix
(mostly BSD) beneath its new and much-admired graphical interface and
you just have to open a terminal (or three) to get to a standard BSD
command prompt and all the usual Unix tools in the /usr/bin directory.
Do some research on Linux and hardware requirements before you dive
in. Slackware is a good version of Linux for older machines, if that's
what you have. Linux CDROMs are available for free with many Linux
manuals and on Linux magazine covers so there's no reason not to have
your own Unix machine at home if you want one.

Even basic Unix skills look good on a CV. If you really want to learn
Unix, stick with the character interface - the terminal - and avoid
the graphical interfaces. There are too many of them, whereas the
command line environments vary very little. Get a beginner's Unix
manual - or read manuals online - and start playing with the basic
commands at the command prompt. Start with man (a help command) and
then move on to ls, ping, cat, head, tail, touch, grep and,
especially, ps and top, which are key server management utilities. Use
a text editor - pico is a good one to start with - to write simple
scripts and use chmod to make them executable. Use pico and lynx - a
terminal-based browser - to write and view HTML files in a terminal.

NB: character-based applications (ones that run in a terminal instead
of a window) are not always clear about the exit procedure. If you get
stuck, try q, bye, quit, control-x or control-c.


Hardware
--------

This covers anything from adding memory to managing a patchpanel to
trouble-shooting a networked printer. Too much to cover here, I'm
afraid. If you want to play with hardware, switch it all off first,
unplug everything, earth yourself and learn on your own first.


Networking
----------

Library systems depend on networking. Read the Unix/Windows help on
basic network commands like ping, traceroute, ipconfig, netstat,
telnet, ftp and others. At work, ping your server's IP address
(available from your administrator or by entering ping, followed by
your server's machinename, at your own machine's command line). All
machines have two names: a network name and 'localhost'. Entering
'ping localhost' on your own machine, provided it is configured
correctly, should also give you a result. Reading a TCP/IP manual will
tell you why.

If you have two machines at home, start thinking about connecting them
via an Ethernet hub or a cross-over cable. Macs are handy here too -
they usually have Ethernet cards as standard.

Five required qualities to make a good systems librarian

1. Observation. All problems happen for a reason: the trick is to spot
the pattern. Interrogate your users politely (reference interview
skills are transferable!) to find out what they were doing; watch
them work and watch/log server activity.

2. Communication. Be a technology information hub for your
library/unit. Find out what's happening in your IT department and keep
your colleagues and managers informed. Attend those user groups and
join email lists.

3. Curiosity. If you see a web page you like or a techie doing
something interesting, like managing a server remotely, find out how
it's done. Keep your eyes and ears open when visiting the IT dept and
get to know everyone, even the surly one in the corner.

4. Technical literacy - Read The Fine Manual! 'RTFM' - sometimes more
crudely expressed - is IT's answer to many simple IT questions.

5. Willingness to get dirty. Reading's great, but it's no substitute
for actually building a database or writing a simple backup script.
Get your hands dirty at the command line, try things out and learn
from your mistakes. Be brave. Start now. Ping that server!

I missed out a pile of stuff - watching developments in the library
systems market, RSS, XML, Javascript, networking CDROMs and learning
to loathe dot-matrix printers and adhesive address labels with a
passion. But don't give up hope - many of the pros don't know enough
about a lot of this stuff either. We all have our weak and strong
points. You'll find your own as you go along. If you think you're
still interested, take a little tongue-in-cheek test ...

Ah, well. That's enough to start with. Welcome to the 'dark side'.

> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Joe Tarrant began his career in the library at University
College Cork (Ireland) in 1985 and has since worked at UCL, IME Ltd
and The Chartered Institute of Bankers, before a move to Clifford
Chance LLP in 2000. During his career, he has been a shelver,
acquisitions librarian, cataloguer, looseleaf filer, documentation
writer, software tester, helpdesk geek, researcher, webmaster, systems
manager and general dogsbody.

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