I'm delighted that the recordings from the Ohio "Cataloging Efficiencies that Make a Difference" member event are now available on the OCLC website! This event took place on 21 October at OCLC's very own headquarters. OCLC Vice President Bruce Crocco joined me at the podium to welcome our participants, and then Ted Fons, Executive Director for WorldCat Global Metadata Network, described in some detail how WorldCat is helping libraries work at "webscale." David Whitehair updated us on tech services trends and good practices with emphasis on how the OCLC cataloging subscription can facilitate workflow efficiencies.
The highlight of this day was our exceptional panel of member librarians:
- Susan Banoun, Head of the Electronic Resources Department at the
University of Cincinnati, described the challenge of acquiring, describing and
maintaining access to the 1.2 million records with URLs in the UC catalog (35%
of their catalog records). Records originate from vendors; from WorldCat
through Collection Sets or through the WorldCat Cataloging Partners program; or
via item-by-item cataloging from WorldCat. Her team manipulates records in
large batches using specially-created loaders, MarcEdit, and other programming
tools like SED and Python. Susan describes her approach as, "minimal edits to
- Morag Boyd, Head of Special Collections Cataloging at The Ohio
State University Libraries, introduced one of several catch phrases of the day:
referring to the eight special collections under her purview, Morag says, "you're
all special, but you're special in the same way.". Partly in response to a
dramatic reduction in staffing a couple of years ago, Morag has been
introducing workflow tools to standardize how special collections are processed
through her team, like a checklist for adding commonly-requested notes to
records. She aims to bring "the right expertise at the right time" to unique
and special materials: both within the OSU libraries, and more widely, by
collaborating with other libraries in OhioLINK.
- Pam Matthews, Acquisitions Manager at Cuyahoga County Public Library, lead us through an impressive tale of increased productivity and cost efficiency, in the context of declining budgets, reduced staffing and a stringent union environment. Her advice? Work with your vendors to get maximum value for your library: press them to offer you their very best discounts, and then scrutinize invoices to make sure they are applying your negotiated terms. Ask for more helpful labeling of boxes, e.g., color-coding, or prefixing order numbers and invoice numbers so you know the format and can route the items directly to the right person or team for processing into the collection. Finally, Pam ascribes some of her dramatic success to luck: though reduced in number, her staff have skills that enable them to work smarter.
Group discussions focused on how to do more with less: how to streamline workflows, re-deploy staff, and cross-train both within tech services, and with other functional areas of the library, to cover more bases, expand our opportunities and promote our visibility in the library. The challenges we face are serious: a consensus began emerging that library work is changing and we, as library staff and supporters, need to change with it.
We were honored to welcome Beverly Cain, Ohio's State Librarian, whose closing remarks really articulated how the library landscape has been changing; and how libraries in Ohio are responding. She focused on collaboration as a key to library sustainability in the future - with other libraries, and with other partners such as community centers. She sees shared library systems and consortia as a growing trend; combined with evolving technologies and user expectations, the future looks bright for Ohio's libraries.
During two OCLC "Cataloging Efficiencies that Make a Difference" member meetings held on consecutive days at the Gutman Library, Harvard University and the Boston Public Library, two excellent RDA presentations were delivered. The presenters had been RDA testers in 2010 and brought a wealth of practical experience to the audience. The talks focused on where they had been but, more importantly, what all catalogers can do in 2012 to prepare for the RDA adoption in January, 2013.
Here are a few of their ideas to get started. First is to get out of the holding pattern. RDA is here to stay. Don't know where to turn? As one speaker advised, check out the list of RDA testers, select one that is comparable to your institution and contact them for questions or advice.
Second, training or overviews can be found for free on the Library of Congress website, including the training at Georgia Public Library Cataloging Summit last August. Also, OCLC's Good Practices for Great Outcomes portal has several free RDA presentations; check out Jeanne Piascik's RDA presentation from last February or Chris Cronin's presentation. And, the OCLC website has RDA-related resources in print and recordings, including a great starting point on the topic of FRBR.
Third, read up on the subject in the latest professional literature. An article on the experiences of RDA testers was recently published in a special issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 49(7/8).
Fourth, as one speaker suggested, you don't need to jump into RDA all at once. Create an implementation plan that emphasizes testing it out for three months as a pilot.
After hearing the speakers talk about RDA in a common sense approach, most participants felt better about making the change. So start now to prepare for RDA.
At OCLC's "Cataloging Efficiencies That Make a Difference" event held recently at the Gutman Library, Harvard University, Eric Childress commented during his keynote that today's libraries have "fuzzy boundaries." One librarian later commented that he found the concept "thought provoking," but wondered if Eric considered this a "positive thing" for libraries. I decided to follow up to find out his thoughts about this comment.
Eric confirmed that the "fuzzy" library affects both the collection and the staffing within a library. Collections now consist of a variety of resources: licensed content, free resources on the web, electronic devices, etc. Therefore, what libraries own is not nearly as clean as it used to be. The "fuzzy" library can also move beyond the boundaries of one institution. For one example of collaboration between libraries, visit the 2CUL website of Cornell and Columbia, an effort to combine library resources of both institutions. For more "fuzziness," would their collection count as one or two collections after they are combined? Also, in the past, staff could rely on their duties to remain steady with not much fluctuation in job expectations. Today change is the one thing staff can rely on. Staff is being asked to do more with less, and take on additional responsibilities not previously outlined in job descriptions, which sometimes blurs the lines within organizational structures. With more fluid roles, this is a probably a good thing for staff, but in many cases there are no clearly defined expectations, which can be unsettling. With change, there is more fuzziness for the future, but more opportunity for all.
Diane Baden, Head of Monographic Services at Boston College's O'Neill Library,spoke recently at the "Cataloging Efficiencies that Make a Difference" event at Harvard University's Gutman Library. Her presentation titled, Piloting E-Books Why, How, Who, and other Questions, hinted that her presentation would leave participants with more questions than answers. Diane covered the O'Neil Library's pilot e-book project that was strategically funded to study the effects of incorporating e-books into their collection. What they eventually tested during the pilot included purchasing individual titles through GOBI and packages with some major publishers, using trials to assess e-books, using patron-driven acquisition (PDA) through ebrary, and digital-driven acquisition (DDA) through YBP. As the pilot progressed, they learned that this is a market in the state of flux, and libraries and vendors are learning from each other as the market develops. And, libraries owe it to vendors to offer guidance on good practices for this developing market.
At the end of the pilot, several issues hadn't been resolved including a collection development policy, budget allocations, and digital rights management. In the next year assessment will be a key goal for the task force. At this point, it's not clear who's using their e-book collections and why and, like with serials packages, whether a package is a good value versus one-off purchasing.
As for cataloging staff, the long-term implications of purchasing fewer materials could bode well for them, allowing them time to perform functions that have been neglected in the past. At the same time, new job functions may require continuing education/training.