Library of Congress appeals to new CIO to continue redesign


The Library of Congress has promoted a veteran research institution to chief information officer, giving her the responsibility of pursuing a massive IT turnaround and supporting its strategy to digitize its assets.

Judith Conklin, formerly Deputy Library CIO, took over last week from Bernard Barton, who retired after six years as CIO. Ms. Conklin will also set the library’s IT strategy and oversee its data centers and cloud services.

She reports to Carla Hayden, who, as Librarian of Congress, is the agency’s most senior official.

Library of Congress DSI Judith Conklin


Photo:

Shawn Miller / Library of Congress

The institution, established in 1800, is the largest library in the world, containing around 170 million items, including books, newspapers and ancient texts. The institution, which provides policy research and analysis to the US Congress, also includes the US Copyright Office.

Ms Conklin, who joined the library in 1997, was appointed Deputy CIO in 2015 following a report from the Government Accountability Office that revealed serious weaknesses in the IT management of the Library of Congress.

The congressional watchdog recommended a number of actions, including hiring a permanent chief information officer to replace a series of interim CIOs. Shortly after, the library brought in Mr. Barton, who had been IT director and deputy administrator of the Defense Technical Information Center, a government-funded research and development data source for the Department of Defense. .

Since the GAO report, Ms. Conklin has worked closely with Mr. Barton to address the library’s IT deficiencies. The institution’s IT resources, which were dispersed among various departments, were centralized under Mr. Barton. He also created a project management office to oversee various IT efforts and closely aligned the IT department with the library’s strategic direction, which included efforts to digitize much of its content.

“Over the past six years, we’ve been fixing the infrastructure… the applications,” Ms. Conklin said. “My mandate is to build on this foundation.

As part of its digitization efforts, the institution is now experimenting with artificial intelligence technologies, such as neural networks and computer vision, to help people sift through some of the millions of items that the library digitized. An online research prototype is expected to be developed by early next year.

The institution’s IT department has nearly 400 employees and spends about $ 200 million annually on information technology.

“The library, in response to many of our recommendations, considered an organizational restructuring… the team that performed the IT audit of the library.

The Library of Congress has approximately 170 million items, including books, journals, and ancient texts.


Photo:

Alex Brandon / Associated press

Ms. Conklin’s team is responsible for systems that convert physical assets into digital assets, library computer storage systems, cybersecurity, and other IT functions.

Work is still needed to strengthen the organization’s IT skills, including developing ways to better track projects and estimate project costs, Ms. Conklin said.

“We are not done building this foundation,” she said.

The redesign was successful, said Bobby Cameron, vice president and senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc., a consulting firm that worked with the Library of Congress.

“This is a major step forward for any company that does this,” he said. “And the Library of Congress is no exception. But they know where they need to go.

Write to John McCormick at [email protected]

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