Systems Librarian Role

Steve Thomas sthomas at
Wed Dec 10 18:59:17 EST 1997

At 12:02 AM 97/12/10 -0800, Isabel  Danforth wrote:
>As a rule of thumb, you need  one full time employee for every 50 computer
>in the library.  If you become a "network nazi" and insist that all
>machines are identical, then 1 person  for every 100 machines may suffice.

Well, I must be a network nazi! We have around 210 workstations in our
Library (staff and public), and two people to support them. I'd say we just
about scrape by, although we have undergone rapid expansion. Having
identical setup on all machines is the only way we're able to cope.

What also needs to be considered is replacement. A PC is good for maybe
four years, which is a stretch these days -- another rule of thumb being
obsolesence after three years -- but we manage by using older machines in
less intensive areas. Three year replacement would send us broke. So
anyway, with around 200 PCs, that means buying around 50 each year just to
replace the one's you have.

Now, unpacking, setting up, configuring, installing software, delivering to
the user, transferring files and taking away the old machine and giving it
to someone else, requires at least a day's work for someone. So, assuming
that you support staff have other stuff to do too (like supporting the
existing PCs and users), one day per week, or 20% of their time spent on
upgrades is a lot.

So 50 PCs per year, or lets say one a week, is an OK load for two people --
but doesn't allow much leeway for further expansion or unexpected crises.

So one person per 100 PCs seems about right to me.

 Stephen Thomas, Senior Systems Analyst
 Mail : Barr Smith Library, The University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005
 Phone: (08) 8303 5190                                   Fax: (08) 8303 4369
 Email: sthomas at
 URL  :
 ** Unless otherwise stated, the content of this message reflects only my **
 ** own opinion, and not the policy of the University of Adelaide Library.**

 "I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Man's" -- William Blake

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