Troubleshooting and Tracking #erl13

Nathan Hosburgh (Montana State University) and Katie Gohn (University of Tennessee) spoke to a packed crowd about troubleshooting and tracking e-resource access problems by reviewing the various approaches, tools, and information resources used.

Outlining approaches to troubleshooting through the lens of “psychology and philosophy” seemed to speak more to the fundamental skills and talents effective troubleshooters have — remain calm, high tech with a human touch, logical & analytical thinking, can-do attitude, and don’t assume operator error.

Knowing you users is foremost, and this includes both internal and external users. Your internal users (ILL, Reference, Collection development, systems) provide valuable feedback from varied points of access and patterns of use. Knowing specifics about your external users — who will have different enrollment statuses, needs, devices — will inform the approach for solving problems.

How problems are solved varies widely — email, link to problem report form, internal error log, ticket system, and AskaLibrarian. The lengths people go to solve problem ranges from simple to complex guides for users to more detailed internal documentation.

Question is, how are you evaluating the effectiveness of these methods?

Katie Gohn shared observations of the widely varying sources for reporting e-resource troubles — anywhere from water cooler talks to direct emails. But her portion of the presentation focused primarily on the e-resource tracking system Footprints. Her library had this system set up as an instance of the wider University IT’s version.

Their web-based “Report IT” form populates the system from a user-selected category assignment of the problem and a general comment box. On the back end, this form also gathers types of computer, IP, and referring URL.

What are the key features that a tracking systems provides that email or other existing methods don’t?
1) the ability to see status and who’s responsible
2) communicate centrally in a system that is easily searchable
3) ability to categorize which allow you to assess needs from vendors or identify internal training needs
4) Have numbers to know staffing needs in this area.

6 people assigned to these troubleshooting teams for a 12K FTE-sized organization. They are hoping to justify the hire of one more. Basic troubleshooting training is important and this tool will help shape that.

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