Technical Services in the 21st Century: Volume 42

Cover of Technical Services in the 21st Century

Table of contents

(17 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-vii
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Introduction

Pages 1-3
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Abstract

Academic libraries develop strategic plans as instruments for grounding operational work in shared vision and measurable goals. The authors of this chapter test the assumption that technical services work is often absent in library strategic plans, even if that work is an assumed component. They explore the representation of technical services through a rich content analysis of Association of Research Libraries member strategic plans to reveal key themes and use the results as a tool to more broadly develop a set of guiding principles for technical services professionals in the 21st century. To provide valuable and relevant services to users, technical services professionals must develop bold and sustainable guiding principles informed by both their representation in their libraries' strategic plans and emerging trends in academic libraries.

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Outreach in libraries has traditionally been considered the realm of public services, where librarians interact one-on-one with our patrons at the reference desk, run social media accounts, and other activities of a similar vein. In today's evolving library world, it is time to challenge outreach in its traditional sense and consider technical services work and its associated duties as outreach. This article delves into technical services work (including cataloging, archival processing, shelf maintenance, etc.) and how the results (bibliographic records, metadata, authority control etc.) are in themselves outreach.

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As the demand for new services strains library resources, directors of research libraries must practice efficient cost management and demonstrate alignment with institutional objectives. For technical services, this requires managing the effective cost of metadata services, assessing core functions, and evaluating operational performance. This paper uses Complex Adaptive Systems (CASs) as a framework to expose the network of local and global dependencies that currently define the field of operation for technical services. Comparative analyses using a CASs framework were conducted on reports by the Library of Congress, the Heads of Technical Services in Large Research Libraries Interest Group, and the British Library. Each report addresses financial pressures placed on bibliographic control services in response to the 2008 recession. Statements within the reports were assigned to one of three dominant systems: bibliographic control, institutional identification, and distributive networks. The statements were then mapped to the CASs characteristics to determine environmental pressures and areas of adaptation. The reports exposed long-standing dependencies that tie local bibliographic control to a complex network of external agencies. Institutional shifts toward user-centered services coupled with growing fiscal restraint has disrupted the stability of these networks. The analyses found that in all cases network instability led to localized institutional adaptation to existing economic pressures. The paper recommends applying a CASs model to assess the alignment of distributed metadata standards and systems development to local institutional objectives.

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In this chapter, I argue, contrary to some current views, that workflow process mapping can be an important and relevant tool for assessing and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of library Technical Services departments. I also propose that linking workflow process mapping to the “High Performance” style of organizational management of W. Edwards Deming underlines both the value of process mapping and how the latter can obviate the need for hierarchical managerial control, by building a cohesive and efficient technical services team. First, I describe the “High Performance” management style of Deming, focusing in particular on what is generally called the “Deming Cycle.” Second, I describe the process of mapping workflows and emphasize its value for highlighting waste, improving existing processes, and maintaining sustainability. Third, I argue that linking workflow mapping to this larger understanding of management style results in several positive consequences for technical services departments, such as a team-based rather than hierarchical style of management, increased departmental and interdepartmental effectiveness and efficiency, and a better return on investment. I illustrate these points by looking directly at an example of an acquisitions department.

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This chapter discusses hurdles posed to a medium-sized public university library in the Midwest when they were asked by their Dean to create a faculty workload worksheet, rationale, and ultimately a set of guidelines. Faculty in other departments compute their loads using formulas based on course loads. How many hours they spend in the classroom, and how many hours they spend preparing for that time in the classroom are factored into the course loads expected for a full teaching load, with release granted in course load equivalents for research and/or service. Because librarian work does not typically involve teaching credit-bearing courses, a major challenge to constructing guidelines is equating library work with course loads. Calculating faculty workload for librarians commensurate with other faculty on campus is often complicated. To all of these challenges add the unique issues that are faced by the technical services (TS) librarian. TS work supports instruction and research but may involve little classroom contact with students, so it has even less resemblance to classroom instruction than other librarian work has. TS librarians spend their time in a wide variety of tasks. Exactly how to formulate this time in accordance with the rules for other departmental faculty is a challenge. The specific situation at this university added more complications as there was also a campus-wide mandate to ensure all workload policies are consistent and equitable.

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Several years ago, North Carolina State (NC State) University Libraries technical services department, Acquisitions & Discovery (A&D), merged acquisitions, cataloging, and electronic resources management functions and staff. One intended outcome for the merger included integrating and distributing electronic resources management across all staff positions whereby staff would be trained to manage a larger portion of the life cycle for print and electronic resources. The benefits of a life cycle approach for both print and electronic resources included better staff understanding of resources; staff ownership of packages; and improved staff follow-through, consistency, and ability to troubleshoot. Key positions were reimagined to support this effort. This included the creation of a staff package manager role in the serials unit to provide oversight of e-journal packages, distribute work to staff, and create and maintain an information dashboard (the Electronic Resources Hub) for staff as well as for other stakeholder departments across the libraries. The monographs unit has recently adopted a similar integrated approach to manage NC State's growing collection of e-books. This chapter will outline A&D implementation of two package management models, one for serials and one for monographs; describe the associated tools and technologies used for support; and discuss lessons learned. Benefits will be discussed to illustrate how other libraries might transform their electronic resource management operations by using a package management strategy.

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Cataloging has long been considered a fundamental component of special collections work. Beyond the ability to constantly adapt to new technologies and content standards, special collections catalogers also deal with special collections specific issues, from fragile or poorly preserved materials to the need to learn item-specific terminology, like binding descriptions, to larger security concerns. By existing within the two worlds of both special collections and technical services librarianship, there is not always a clear answer to where and whom a position should report. The institutional role and best reporting structure of the special collections cataloger has yet to be well-defined, categorized, or understood.

This chapter seeks to better understand and quantify some of the challenges current special collections catalogers face through conducting and analyzing the authors' recent survey of special collections catalogers primarily working in American cultural heritage institutions. While these findings are neither simple nor straightforward, it is possible to suggest some preliminary solutions. Overarching trends and challenges included communication between departments, security of valuable materials versus workspace locations, and priority setting.

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For decades academic libraries technical services have adapted to technological advancements and changes in scholarly publishing. Traditional technical services work has decreased as processes were automated (Hertstein, Rabine, & Sweet, 2018). Technical Services departments must proactively identify areas for future growth and metrics for measuring their work. The context and language that these metrics use is vital to their understanding and function. This chapter looks at the usual Technical Services assessment measures and the goals they support. It then considers how these assessments could be reframed in order to support a goal of new service creation in Technical Services. It considers what additional benchmarks could be used as standards and norms to support goals for a future-oriented Technical Services negotiation.

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The library metadata of the twenty-first century is moving toward a linked data model. BIBFRAME, which stands for Bibliographic Framework Initiative, was launched in 2011 with the goal to make bibliographic descriptions sharable and interoperable on the web. Since its inception, BIBFRAME development has made remarkable progress. The focus of BIBFRAME discussions has now shifted from experimentation to implementation. The library community is collaborating with all stakeholders to build the infrastructure for BIBFRAME production in order to provide the environment where BIBFRAME data can be easily created, reused, and shared. This chapter addresses library community's BIBFRAME endeavors, with the focus on Library of Congress, Program for Cooperative Program, Linked Data for Production Phase 2, and OCLC. This chapter discusses BIBFRAME's major differences from the MARC standard with the hope of helping metadata practitioners get a general understanding of the future metadata activity. While the BIBFRAME landscape is beginning to take shape and its practical implications are beginning to develop, it is anticipated that MARC records will continue to be circulated for the foreseeable future. Upcoming multistandard metadata environments will bring new challenges to metadata practitioners, and this chapter addresses the required knowledge and skills for this transitional and multistandard metadata landscape. Finally, this chapter explores BIBFRAME's remaining challenges to realize the BIBFRAME production environment and asserts that BIBFRAME's ultimate goal is to deliver a value-added next-web search experience to our users.

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Academic libraries have been moving toward a culture of assessment by curating data and making future decisions based on these data. Managing all of the data collection can be a cumbersome task with heavy time commitments. For technical services departments, this culture shift presents new challenges for management of data, job descriptions, and workflows or procedures. Pennsylvania College of Technology's Madigan Library welcomes these challenges by recognizing the goals of its institution to create critical thinking students of the twenty-first century by assessing the effectiveness of library resources, especially ones that can be accessed in a digital format. The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate the various quantitative and qualitative methods a library can incorporate to collect data of e-resources, organize that data into comprehensible formats, and share results and make recommendations for future collections in an ongoing, holistic assessment format. Following the college's curriculum goals, this chapter will show how the Madigan Library collects data and assesses e-resources, online teaching resources, acquisitions workflows, and other aspects of the library with ongoing assessment and data collection. Managing data and making decisions within these departments are discussed.

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The silos of library cataloging data have long been recognized as barriers to the seamless discovery of library resources via the Web and to the interaction of library data with Web data and other uses. In order to better serve users, library cataloging data must be available in a more open environment, and libraries are looking to linked data to present library resources in the data stream of the Web in a way that is seamless to users. This entails changing cataloging formats and tools to Web standards. While there is a lot of discussion and activity around linked data, this chapter approaches the highly technological topic in a way that is geared more toward a general and practical cataloging perspective.

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In recent years, a growing number of libraries have canceled or unbundled their “Big Deal” journal subscriptions – those subscriptions that include a full package of digital journal titles for one discounted cost. This started as an affordability problem but has slowly morphed into a challenge from libraries demanding a new pricing structure that accommodates and spurs the growing open access movement.

The change has caused a variety of challenges for technical services units including the increased need for user data, increasingly complicated workflows as they manage partial subscriptions, new interactions with consortia, and ongoing campus conversations. Whether the library is seeking to simply unbundle due to budget constraints, or push for new models such as “read and publish”, there is a tremendous impact on the work of technical services units.

This chapter will explore the rationale and growth of the Big Deal, how it is breaking, four case studies on breaking Big Deals, a brief discussion of new transformative agreements, new challenges for consortia, and implications for technical services units moving forward.

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While library acquisition models are moving steadily away from ownership to access only, film vendors are following suit, but some streaming video purchase models become so expensive over time that one questions the motivation behind this choice. The following study was done to explore the motivations behind this choice, through a survey of academic librarians. The results showed that academic librarians are purchasing or subscribing to something that they perceive to be the preferred format for faculty and students. At the same time, respondents acknowledge the problems with streaming video purchase models, but this choice is being made despite attitudes that streaming video purchasing models are unsustainable.

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About the Authors

Pages 221-226
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Index

Pages 227-234
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Cover of Technical Services in the 21st Century
DOI
10.1108/S0732-0671202142
Publication date
2021-01-08
Book series
Advances in Library Administration and Organization
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-80043-829-3
Book series ISSN
0732-0671