Efficiencies in acquiring, describing and providing access: "The right expertise at the right time"
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.