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Y2K at the Library

November 3, 2016

By Alan Kilpatrick

Remember Y2K, the crisis that prompted people to take up survivalism, stockpile rations in the woods, and predict the end?  Fortunately, the Law Society Library was prepared for the worst.  Y2K preparations made by the Law Society Library were detailed in a June 1999 Benchers’ Digest article entitled, Year 2000 Computer Compliance.

First, exactly what was Y2K?  The article explains,

1What is everyone talking about “Y2K” and what does this mean for your law firm?  The year 2000 compliance problem is related to the turn of the century, when we change from the 1900’s to the 2000’s.  Computer programmers many years ago used two digits to indicate a year in their computer programing….This could pose a problem when January 1, 2000 clicks over on the computer.

What exactly was the Law Society Library doing to prepare for the impending disaster?  The Law Society had a plan,

There are no guarantees of exactly what will happen on January 1, 2000….The Law Society Library developed a plan after conducting research on what issues existed and looked for ideas on what we need to do to make sure our system is less likely to fail for our users on January 1, 2000.

The plan involved creating a detailed inventory of hardware, testing all software, accessing all data files using two digit years, conducting a full backup of the entire system before December 31, and “developing a contingency plan to help the library deal with issues in case something goes wrong on January 1, 2000…”

Ignoring the Y2K problem will not make it go away.  There is still time to act…before December 31, 1999….The tests and contingency plans are your best efforts to minimize the impact and possible damages before entering the new century.

While the Y2K furor may seem somewhat humorous in retrospect, I hear that we are coming up on the Year 2038 problem (Y2038) next.

Benchers’ Digest (June 1999): Baer, Susan. Year 2000 Computer Compliance. 8-10. Print.

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