I got the saddest email today from a fellow librarian. In order to protect anonymity I’m not going to say anything about the librarian or the organization – but I do want to share this with you all. First an brief intro. In my open source talks I mention that you can try out many open source applications by using PortableApps on your jump drive. This installs mobile versions of software like Firefox and OpenOffice to your thumb drive allowing you to use it on any computer with a USB port.
One of the attendees at one of my many talks took this tip and decided to learn more about open source by using it risk free on a jump drive. This is awesome – I love it when people leave my talks and actually use what they learned and try to learn more – unfortunately this librarian’s enthusiasm was not greeted with praise for learning new things – instead it was greeted with a threat and USB port lockdown!!
Staff or patrons are not to install or use software that is not installed or approved by Automation/Administration. Per our earlier discussion you were notified that Firefox was not a permitted application. Using a portable version of the software or any other software from a USB thumb drive is only a way to try to circumvent the restrictions in place, very similar to using a proxy avoidance to get around our web filtering.
Technically portable applications are even a bigger concern due to the fact they are circumventing the security that blocking the installation of applications is used for. We understand that it can be frustrating for the staff and patrons due to their lack of expertise on these matters.
We have been installing IE 8 on machines and it is installed on the machines that you are currently using. There may be similar features or add-ons that will provide some of what you are looking for.
I have been lucky in my career to work in very open and enthusiastic libraries – with IT staff that were willing to learn new things and let us try new applications. When I read an email like this it makes me very very sad because there is such ignorance out there – and unfortunately huge roadblocks preventing librarians from learning – and finding ways to provide additional services to their patrons.
This librarian will be doing research to try and educate the IT staff – so if you have suggestions or comments, please share them here. I have already shared my resources and comments – but there is always more to learn!!!