As the world moves at a breakneck pace into the digital era, many special libraries and archives remain operating with legacy systems and technologies. The failure to modernise doesn’t just impede operations; it triggers a domino effect of user experience inefficiencies along with economic and security strains. This article examines the real costs of outdated special library and archive software and the need for modernisation to help special libraries and archives deliver value to their user communities.
Legacy technology systems can pose a significant security risk to your system. These systems are often outdated and may not support modern security tools, algorithms, or secure communication protocols, leaving them vulnerable to eavesdropping, data theft, and manipulation. By prioritising security and privacy, special libraries can create a safe and trustworthy environment, safeguard sensitive information, and enhance the library experience and user satisfaction by providing accessible knowledge and information only to the right people.
To reduce costs, special libraries and archives will often experiment with open-source solutions as an approach to modernisation. However, open-source software is not immune to security vulnerabilities. In fact, because the code is open and available to anyone, it can be easier for attackers to find and exploit vulnerabilities.
For starters, the maintenance of legacy systems is costly. They often require specialised skills to keep them running, skills that are becoming rarer as the IT world moves forward. The software is no longer supported, and the inefficiencies are baked into the very code on which these systems run. Couple this with the cost of a cyberattack due to the above-mentioned security vulnerabilities, and the economic implications of outdated technology are manifold.
But the costs run deeper. Consider the staff time wasted on troubleshooting and manual workarounds. Consider the potential users frustrated by the library or archives’ inability to meet their needs, and then the work product that is under-delivered or not delivered at all. There’s a ripple effect on productivity and quality that cannot be ignored.
The Domino Effect on Service and Access
When systems fail, the impact on service is immediate. Users cannot access information. Compliance and risk become questionable. But there is also a broader impact on access. Libraries and archives serve as critical access points to information to their key users to whom their content is tailored. When technology fails, it disproportionately affects those who rely on it the most. The inefficiency of outdated technology also means that libraries and archives can’t offer the necessary services that today’s users expect.
The Human Cost
Behind ageing systems is a team of library and archive staff doing their very best to provide an uninterrupted service. The stress and frustration they experience when forced to work with inadequate tools can lead to burnout and increase employee turnover. This not only affects morale but also leads to a loss of expertise and continuity, further compounding the organisation’s information management challenges.
Modernisation: A Path Forward
The good news is that modernisation can turn the tide. Investing in new secure technologies can streamline operations, reduce costs, and improve services resulting in enhanced satisfaction and user engagement. Modern systems designed specifically to meet the needs of special libraries and archives are more reliable, user-friendly, and due to granular-level visibility and access to materials, provide enhanced security. This modernisation will strengthen the library’s position and reputation as they contribute to company-wide knowledge sharing and research, resulting in a positive impact on their user communities.
The adverse impacts of outdated library technologies is too high to ignore. It’s not just about the immediate economic impact or the visible frustrations of users and staff. It’s about the long-term security and viability of special libraries and archives as essential pillars of knowledge. They should be dynamic knowledge centres that reflect the progress of the organisation. As we confront the challenges of outdated technologies, we must also embrace the opportunities of modernisation. It’s a significant undertaking, but the future of special libraries and archives and the communities of practice they serve depends on it.
Commit to closing the technology gap. Get started by learning how other leading special libraries and archives modernised their solutions. Book an online demonstration with one of our experts today!