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New & Noteworthy
epixtechHelps Chinook Regional Library System Post ILL First
Chinook Arch Regional Library System in Alberta, Canada, is the first library to employ Version 2 of the ISO ILL standard (ISO 10161) in its daily operations for interoperation with another implementor's interlibrary loan (ILL) application. The library uses epixtech inc.'s Resource Sharing System (RSS) to send ISO ILL request messages to NAVIS, the National Library of Canada's ILL management system. According to Mary Jackson, Senior Program Officer for Access Services at the Association of Research Libraries, this is the first known use of this standard, which was developed by the library community to facilitate borrowing of materials across a variety of automation and interlibrary loan management systems.
Fiona Dyer, Manager of Public Services at Chinook Arch, stated, "RSS has allowed us to automate every step of our interlibrary loan service. We have gone from 12-inch high, three-week long paper backlogs to receiving, searching and securing a lender for patron requests within eight hours." Interlibrary loan service to public libraries in Alberta is provided through a contract with the Alberta Public Library Electronic Network.
The National Library of Canada also expressed their hope that other public and academic libraries would implement ILL practices that support this standard. According to Carol Smale, Director of Resource-Sharing Services at the National Library of Canada, "The National Library of Canada has been using an ILL protocol-based system since 1987 and has supported several Canadian library system developers to build protocol-based systems. We have just completed enhancements to NAVIS, our in-house ILL management system, which adds a component to support ILL messaging conforming to the IPIG Profile."
DRA and epixtechAnnounce Joint Development and Marketing Intent
Data Research Associates, Inc. (DRA) and epixtech, inc. have signed a letter of understanding for the development and joint marketing of an interface between DRA's proprietary library automation software and epixtech's Universal Resource Sharing Application (URSA). DRA and epixtech are working together to provide epixtech's URSA, an interlibrary loan (ILL) product, to schools and libraries serviced by DRA's automation systems. Both companies indicated their intention of continuing to pursue traditional library automation business.
According to a joint release, DRA will provide an interface between the systems in order to avoid the mapping that epixtech's URSA would require where no standard interface exists. epixtech and DRA will then work together to create a method to use DRA's search engine with epixtech's ILL software. The development of an interface between URSA and DRA's proprietary automation systems will provide the capability for all library customers of the two companies to exchange materials. Although many details of the joint project are yet to be finalized, the two companies have agreed to develop an interface that complies with national standards for circulation of library materials and that will be integrated with DRA's Web2 products.
Because DRA does not have a stand-alone ILL product, this cooperative venture allows DRA's customers to participate in materials sharing based for stand-alone ILL systems, says DRA's President and CEO, Mike Mellinger.
DRA: c/o Mike Mellinger, President and CEO, (800) 325-0888, Mike@DRA.com
epixtech, inc.: c/o Lana Porter, President and CEO, (801) 223-5998, email@example.com
Association of Research LibrariesExplores Changing Roles of Library Professionals
Over the past ten years, many changes have affected the roles of librarians and other professionals in research libraries. The changes have been caused, in part, by technological advances, reorganizations, more focus on libraries as learning organizations, the use of teams and team-based approaches to tasks, and a recognition of diversity's importance to organizational development. Librarians have had to align priorities with redefined institutional goals.
A survey for SPEC (Systems and Procedures Exchange Center) Kit 256, recently released by Association of Research Libraries (ARL), examines these professional changes through an analysis of position descriptions issued by ARL-member institutions. The survey was conducted in January 1999 by the ARL Leadership Committee: Nancy Baker, Washington State University; Joan Giesecke, University of Nebraska Lincoln; Carolyn Snyder, Southern Illinois University; DeEtta Jones, ARL Senior Program Officer for Diversity; and Kathryn Deiss, ARL/OLMS Program Manager.
ARL received responses from 55 of the 122 member libraries (45 per cent), mostly from the South and North Central regions, and mostly (65 per cent) public institutions. Since 1 January 1996, the 55 responding institutions had posted 686 librarian positions and 206 administrative positions. No significant differences in the number of postings were observed by region, although only 44 positions were reported by Canadian libraries, possibly due to the smaller number of postings in Canada, but more likely indicative of a reduction in Canadian staff. Variance in the number of library and administrative positions per institution was largest among US institutions in the West, while the smallest variation can be found in the North Central Region.
A total of 172 (25 per cent) existing librarian positions and 90 (44 per cent) existing administrative positions were radically redesigned, including an average of 0.4 per institution in the West and 4.1 per institution in the Northeast. A total of 67 per cent were in ARL libraries in the South. No significant difference in the average number of redesigned positions by institutional type was observed, although state institutions reported a large number of changes in the designs of librarians' positions (128 or 74 per cent) and administrative positions (51 or 57 per cent).
Among the positions libraries desired, if funding was made available, 74 out of the 155 positions (50 per cent) involved technology in one capacity or another; six positions (4 per cent) involved information literacy, outreach, or distance learning; 22 (14.8 per cent) involved either administrative support, development, or public relations and marketing; while six positions specifically mentioned duties relating to copyright and contracts and licenses. Examples of titles drawn from the list for desired positions include computer programmer, systems analyst, application support specialist, budget officer, staff development officer, digital archivist, Web development and management, data librarian, and negotiation and coordination of digital licenses. Most of the desired bibliographer and cataloger positions were for either highly specialized areas (East Asian, music, Irish, maps) or digital-related resources.
A substantial number of the new job descriptions submitted by respondents are for Web- or technology-related positions. While most are intralibrary system positions, two are for a university Web master. Many of the remaining position descriptions submitted while they do not principally focus on technology-based responsibilities demand varying degrees of knowledge or familiarity with technologies. Thus, the job descriptions make it clear that in the current employment marketplace for library professionals there is an expectation of higher levels of technological competencies, especially among MLS recipients.
An analysis of the position descriptions forwarded by respondents does not indicate that there are significant geographic differences in position requirements and characteristics. Nor are there significant differences between public and private institutions, except that the public institutions often include language pointing toward a more diverse student clientele. Descriptions from public institutions, for example, profess an interest in attracting professionals with experience, educational background, or other evidence of professional preparation that would prepare them to work with distance learning or distance education programs or engage in outreach efforts to reach an array of clientele.
The new skills requested in position descriptions revolve around technology and include knowledge of educational and instructional technologies (or teaching technologies), especially for public institutions. It is common to find postings for reference positions seeking individuals with knowledge of electronic resources and products, for example, electronic resources and reference librarian or reference librarian and Web specialist. Other new positions reported include information technology specialist and digital projects librarian. It is also commonplace to find requirements that include knowledge of markup languages (HTML, SGML, XML) and operating systems (Unix, Windows, and Macintosh). Knowledge of the latter implies an ability to work across platforms, which indicates again the new expectations for library employees.
A significant number of the descriptions collected indicate that the positions have been redefined to fit within new or reengineered organizational configurations. In some cases, new positions have emerged from organizational redesign and development. For example, one library advertised for a coordinator for a "Service Plus" configuration. Another referred to a reconfiguration of services into four educational teams, thereby requiring teaching-training expertise in technologies supporting the new organizational structure. Another advertised several positions reporting to a director of computing and telecommunication.
Many positions ask for the ability to work in "team-based" or "team-oriented," "client-centered" environments. Typical among the language for these skills is a statement on "teamwork, communication, and shared responsibility." Among the new administrative professional positions, several respondents sought development officers. In some cases the MLS is required.
Among the educational requirements reported by responding institutions, the MLS remains the terminal degree requirement. Many descriptions list various desirable degrees, such as computer science, educational or instructional technology, business administration, or advanced degrees in other disciplines, but few require them. Instead, advertised positions focus on demonstrated expertise or experience in the working area required by the position, such as a knowledge of hardware or software, Web-based activities (including HTML or other markup languages), staff training and development, classroom teaching experience, or administration.
In summary, the changing roles of librarians and other professionals in ARL libraries are the consequence of new technologies and organizational development. On the one hand, ARL institutions presently desire many different types of new positions that are designed to work with technology, networked environments, information systems, and digital libraries. Many other positions have been redesigned to integrate technological competencies as a part of the overall requirements and desired characteristics of their positions. On the other hand, although the number of librarian positions posted outnumbered non-librarian administrative professional positions by three to one, a significantly higher number of administrative professional positions (44.1 per cent) were the result of radical redesign.
This SPEC Kit was prepared by Janice Simmons-Welburn, University of Iowa.
Association of Research Libraries: c/o Lee Anne George, Program Planning Officer, 21 Dupont Circle #800, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: (202) 296-2296; Fax: (202) 872-0884, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org