Will You Change Seats?
On May 5th at the University of Texas at Dallas Library's beautiful McDermott Suite, cataloging staff from across north Texas gathered at OCLC's Good Practices for Great Outcomes: Cataloging Efficiencies that Make a Difference event. As we settled into our seats and began to enjoy Stefanie Wittenbach's keynote presentation, "Extreme Makeover: Reengineering Technical Services for the 21st Century", Stefanie paused and asked us:
"Will you change seats?"
We didn't really want to change seats. First, there was the simple hassle of the change: we would have to pick up our stuff, get up, and find a new seat. We might no longer be next to our friends; we might no longer have the same view that'd we'd grown accustomed to. We were comfortable where we were.
But we pretty quickly picked up on Stefanie's change metaphor and thought about how to apply it to technical services. Many of us couldn't tell you exactly why we'd chosen the seat we did. It was open, or it was the first one available. The choice was generally not the result of any detailed planning. Likewise, Stefanie challenged each if us to consider each action we took at work - each item we touched, each keystroke we entered, each record we looked at - and explain exactly why we did that action. If the answer is "I don't know" or "That's the way we do it", then it might be time to look more closely. It might be time to change seats.
Stefanie's perspective is perfect for analyzing such workflows, as she is building library services from the ground up for the brand new Texas A&M - San Antonio campus. No one is even in a seat yet; in fact, her seats aren't even set up.
And how is she setting up seats for 21st century technical services? She is inspired by universal principles, such as those expounded in the recent University of California System Libraries Next Generation Technical Services Initiative:
- speed processing throughout technical services
- eliminate redundant work
- focus cataloging and metadata description on unique resources
- define success as the user's ability to easily find and use relevant content.
Stefanie and the other excellent presenters detailed specific actions to accommodate these goals. She instructed us to find people in your organization to accept key roles in change:
- the change leader who takes on overall project management and communication;
- the change junkie who seeks out new ideas and thinking;
- the eager beaver who is ready to try new things as suggested by the leader and the junkie;
- the scribe, who documents the changes;
- and the teacher, who shows the rest of the staff how to implement the change.
By filling those roles, we can all change seats, and we can all find cataloging efficiencies that make a difference.