[Web4lib] Could library automation systems track evacuees?

Jonathan Rochkind jonathan at dnil.net
Tue May 30 17:49:10 EDT 2006

Sounds like a bad idea to me. I wouldn't assume that managing evacuations
and refugees is just like managing circulation becuase of superficial
similarities. The devil is in the details.

In fact, I'd say that kind of hubris (thinking you know more about how to
do things than you do) is what led to such poor management in the first
place! The problems with the post-Katrina management weren't primarily
_technological_, the lack of good software. Management problems seldom

After all, if managing evaucations/refugees is the same as managing
libraries/circulation, would you want to put someone with Red Cross (for
example) experience in charge of your library? I wouldn't. Even LESS so, 
putting a circulation manager in charge of evacuations and refugees. No
thank you.

If you can imagine writing software from scratch to do this in a day, then
what's the point of retrofiting an ILS instead?  But I think good software
would take more than this. The place to go for good software for refugee
management is the same place to go for good management skills for refugee
management---people who are experienced in refugee management. The UNHCR
or whatever. What software do they use to keep track of things? If they do
it without any special software at all, then maybe a lack special software
isn't the primarily barrier here. And hacked ILS software wouldn't be
'special software' anyway.

Sorry, just seems like a really bad idea to me.


> (note: I responded directly to John F. without snips; this version
> snips)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Fereira [mailto:jaf30 at cornell.edu]
> Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 2:06 PM
> To: JOHN MARQUETTE; web4lib at webjunction.org
> Subject: Re: [Web4lib] Could library automation systems track evacuees?
>>Although I have worked in a library for the past 10 years perhaps
>>it's the previous 20 years working with technologies in the corporate
> <snip>
> I was in IT too before I made my jump.  I can't see an Oracle system
> being set up overnight the way I could see a circ module go, even if
> both were extensively pre-tested.  We know the FBI system can't do it,
> every police department in the US seems to have a different
> crime/criminal management system...and I don't know what the Red Cross
> does except to keep paper records and affix toe tags.
>>Bar codes?   If you want to track the location of individuals that
>>bracelet or necklaces should be GPS enabled.
> GPS:  Heck, if I wanted to do it right I'd put RFID chips on them.
> Berkeley Public Library has put them in their collection (!) and managed
> to convince city residents that their rights weren't violated.  I didn't
> mention that (nor would I do it) because of the flame war it would
> begin.  I put my asbestos britches on when I clicked "send" on that
> message anyway...
>>An understanding of Inventory tracking logistics is hardly exclusive
>>to library "professionals".  In fact, most commercial technology in
>>use in libraries is more likely create by computer science
> professionals.
> UPS could step up to the plate as a public gesture, as could FedEx or
> any of the courier services.  Their IT systems are sufficiently
> decentralized that they could work, plus they all have redundant
> communications facilities (fiber, satellite, etc.).  I haven't heard
> anything from them though.
> If NYPL can use Dynix Horizon for its ILS, it should work to track
> people fleeing the Gulf Coast.  I would focus my concerns on
> transmission capacity and being able to work offline.
>>While the idea is good in spirit I've seen too many email messages
>>from students complaining about checking in books and then received
> <snip>
> Re: immigration - yeah, at least we wouldn't lose visa holders and we
> have the Unique Collection Agency to gently persuade people to pay up
> (or show up).
> I would rather be like a book than like a parcel.  I would like to know
> that we'll be able to track people in the next Katrina.  Hurricane
> season starts Thursday.
> John Marquette
> I speak for myself, not my employer.
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