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Redesigning Technical Services Workflows, Saturday morning, July 11, 2009:

Here are some brief highlights — please feel free to chat with me if you want to know more. Please note that these speakers are both from much larger libraries than ZSR.

Arlene Klair, Adaptive Cataloging & Database Mgmt Group Leader, University of Maryland Libraries

  • Original catalogers now primarily work on high value gifts and special collections since implementing shelf ready with the main domestic book vendor.
  • A product called OCLC Classify helps copy catalogers do “nasty cuttering” that was previously done by original catalogers. The product hyperlinks to other library catalogs that hold to the title to be able to see how they cuttered and then you can link to your own catalog to see how it fits your collection.
  • They use Connexion for batch loading, using save files on a shared drive.
  • They use a commercial service called Bibliographic Notification to upgrade bibs (especially CIP); an internal study conducted some time ago showed that the lag for the upgrades with this service was only about 3 months and Arlene suspects that now the lag might only be 2 months.

Rick Anderson, Associate Director for Scholarly Resources and Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

Rick indicated immediately that he was repeating much of his earlier talks in other venues, but I thought it was worth hearing again because he’s making good points for consideration. You’ll notice that he frequently repeated a couple of themes:

There are 4 areas where “Technical Services needs retooling.”

  1. Books
  2. Serials
  3. Cataloging
  4. Collection Development
  • Consolidation — put staff together for serials and monographs into one organizational unit [ZSR is already there in the sense he meant it.]
  • Simplification [of processes] — use shelf-ready, don’t examine every book, duplicate call numbers don’t cause the patron to fail in retrieving the right book
  • Simplification — drop check-in, binding, and claiming for print journals and focus on doing things that get the patron access when the patron needs it
  • Outsourcing routine items and redirecting in-house catalogers to special items — Marriott Library has all monographic purchases shipped to OCLC first to be cataloged and to make them shelf-ready; catalogers at the library now spend time on the library’s own digital and special collections.
  • Simplification — completeness and accuracy of the records in the OPAC is not the point; connection of the patron to the item is the point. The OPAC is now mainly the means of retrieving items instead of discovery. Look at your catalog logs and see if known item searches are the most frequent type of search
  • Use patron-driven selection. “Patrons know; librarians guess.” We now have tools and ability to supply the patron needs quickly instead of having to guess ahead of time. Pay the $20 for overnight Fed Ex of the $18 book in Amazon that was requested by a patron instead of spending the money on things that will never circulate. Circulation rate is down 53% and reshelving is down 73% since 1997, at U. of Utah. 50% of librarian-selected titles never circulated. (This was calculated with student enrollment factored in.) Purchase ILL requests instead of borrowing the items. Buy on-demand (as with e-books). Marriott Library purchased an Espresso Book Machine to do print on demand (through Baker & Taylor’s Lightning Source) and patrons have the option to buy a print-on-demand item to keep or the library will add it to the collection.

ALCTS Governance

The majority of my conference was confined to ALCTS governance.

I participated in my last ALCTS Budget & Finance (B&F) meetings and related Continuing Resource Section Executive Committee meeting. I was required to resign from this early since I won the election for Chair of Acquisitions Section. It looks like ALCTS is on track to end the Fiscal Year in the black. Some good decisions to steer towards webinars and online continuing education courses (such as the Fundamentals of Acquisitions and the Fundamentals of Electronic Resource Acquisitions) are paying off. Final figures will be late due to ALA Annual Conference being later than usual, which leaves some degree of uncertainty, but at least the budget is on track at this point. B&F discussed how to determine pricing for the electronic version of Library Resources and Technical Services (aka LRTS, the research journal of ALCTS) – discussion to be continued with expertise from the LRTS board and the Continuing Resources Section.

At the request of the current leaders of Acquisitions Section (AS), I stepped in ahead of my assumption of duties as Vice Chair/Chair Elect of AS and helped run the All Committee meeting on Saturday afternoon. I learned that the section doesn’t have many long-timers who know the ropes right now and that many people need to be helped with understanding their roles within the section. I started talking with section members who aren’t currently involved, hoping to get a head start on the appointment process. Starting in the fall and continuing through March, I’ll be learning where committee vacancies are and making appointments.

Big changes are happening in the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) Division of ALA. ALCTS is introducing a New Members Interest Group for those who have been members 5 years or less to have an opportunity to learn more about participation in ALCTS. ALCTS will be doing strategic planning in synch with ALA and internally is interested in reorganizing to fit today’s needs. For example, there will now be a Continuing Education Committee (to instigate design of more courses like the Fundamentals of… mentioned above). These agenda items will impact the work in the individual sections in the coming year. For example, each section has an Education Committee that needs to realign it’s work to fit with having a Division-level Continuing Education Committee comprised of members-at-large instead of the chairs of the section committees. There was quite a bit of discussion about continuing to have a Midwinter Conference or not and the impacts if there were not a meeting in January.

Looks like I’m embarking on an interesting 3 year odyssey in the leadership of Acquisitions Section.