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For all intents and purposes, there were no computers at the UIUC Library from 10:00 AM until 12:30 PM today. By UIUC Library, I mean all of them, not just an isolated building.

I’m a little scetchy on the technical details, but apparently, “McAfee antivirus erroneously detected and removed a Windows file that allows it to connect to the network,” an error which caused any machine running Windows XP (98% of them or so) to be inoperable. The problem was apparently campus-wide as well, so there were many a wide-eyed student looking for a functioning printer for their papers due at the next class.

During the outage, we still checked out books. Manually. With cards. We couldn’t check any in and we couldn’t access our own catalog, so we were otherwise dead-in-the-water. Time was spent reading and deflecting patrons from trying to start up the computers on their own, as well as answering their numerous questions regarding the issue.

What did we learn from this experience? Obviously, the integrated library system and other computer-aided tasks have completely superseded any other function of the library to the point that we were moribund during this down-time. Also, while the phone-tree to spread the word concerning the problem without the use of email was effective, there were no other guiding policies that were followed during this period to insure smooth operation.

Thankfully, patrons, for the most part, took the situation in stride and most went on with their usual uses of our library – studying and sleeping. The rest cleared out, and if they are anything like me, enjoyed a beautiful spring day.