Week two of my second quarter in library school has begun and I am enjoying it very much. The class this quarter I may have mentioned is Introduction to Systems Analysis. There is lots of reading and lots of new things to think about and put together but I like systems so it is no surprise I like the class. It also helps that the professor is marvelous. He is funny and asks good questions to get us all thinking and no question is a bad question. He might be sitting at his computer rolling his eyes as he follows class discussion, but we can’t see his face and he comes across as nothing but nice. He also lives in South Dakota so we are practically neighbors!

You may be asking yourself, what is a systems analyst anyway? A systems analyst is a problem-solver. She studies the problems and needs of an organization to determine how people, data, processes, and information technology can best accomplish the goals of the organization and improve the business. A systems analyst has to be able to talk to everyone in the organization from the head honcho to the person who buys the paperclips. She has to be able to talk tech and to translate tech-speak into everyday language, know something about how businesses work, and be able to ferret out who really runs things and knows what’s going on.

But systems analysis it turns out isn’t all about technology. A system is a bunch of interrelated components that work together to achieve an end result. These days technology often comes into the system at some point, but it doesn’t have to.

So I am learning about PIECES (Performance, Information, Economics, Control, Efficiency, Service) a problem-solving framework. I am learning about processes and how to break down big systems and big problems into smaller systems and smaller problems. I am also learning about methodology. There are many and a good analyst should know about them and be able to use the appropriate one for a given project or situation. For the purposes of learning systems analysis, however, we are using a hypothetical methodology called FAST–Framework for the Application of Systems Thinking–it’s even italicized for some reason, perhaps to make it look fast on the page.

Why, you may ask, would a librarian need to know about systems analysis? I can’t give a definite answer, but I suspect it is because the library is filled with systems from the way in which books are shelved to the catalogs used to look them up. Information has to be stored and retrieved and a system is needed to do it. I may never have to design a system myself, but I might be involved in helping a systems analyst design a system so it helps to understand what goes into it. And if nothing else, I will have learned a whole bunch of new acronyms by the time the quarter is done!

And on a side note, I have been a bad blog visitor of late. I’ve been so busy I’ve had barely enough time to keep my own blog going. But things should be calming down and I will be able to catch up with what all of you have been up to!