Posted tagged ‘technical services’

Notes from a Meeting

February 3, 2009

Today was the latest technical services roundtable, and it was my turn to run the meeting this time.  This was a great meeting, despite the weather.  The Westfield Athenaeum were incredible hosts.  They have an amazing library, a simply gorgeous building, and an amazingly active and dedicated staff.

And the meeting was one of the more rewarding ones I’ve been a part of.  We managed to draw little more diverse crowd this time, 1 library that was much further afield than our regulars, and for once I was not the youngest person in the room (course that might just be because I’m getting old).  So a few random notes to help me process things:

We can replace our dot-matrix with a thermal printer!  Man do I feel dumb now.

We need a “get a life” item type for dvd sets that cannot reasonably be finished in a single week.

Comics, man do I love them, but God are they a pain to create records for!  Marvel, listen up and stop resetting the volume number for your collected editions!

On the OCLC record use policy, we’ve been here before and we’ll be here again.

Network!  Learn what other librarians in your area you can go to for advice.  I’ve never encountered another group of people so willing to go out of their way to help their peers, take advantage of that.

What’s So Bad About Google

January 26, 2009

The Autocat regulars have picked up the Guardian article on OCLC last week, and the direction they’ve gone with the conversation seems a little….oh what’s the word…wrong?  Complaints immediately sprang up regarding the anti-OCLC agenda held by those who were interviewed (why this is surprising, or a problem I don’t get).  And people responded even more vehemently against the suggestion that it’s wrong for catalog records to be part of the hidden web.

The arguement goes something like this, people can search for a book in either a library’s own catalog or in Worldcat, so why would you want to let Google do it?  Well let’s see, because people use Google and they don’t use Worldcat (the majority of patrons have probably never even heard of it).  Because Google is intuitive to use and our catalogs are anything but.  Because we have to meet the patrons at their level and not force them to come up to ours.

Furthermore, there’s a bit of a fear that giving search engines access to our data will make our own systems irrelevant.  That’s only true in that our systems are already bordering on decrepitude.  Our jobs are to find ways to let people discover our resources.  To do so we should use every single tool at our disposal.  There is no possible downside if a new patron finds our stuff that wouldn’t have otherwise.  Really who cares if this discovery happened through an approved channel or not?  The important thing is that it was able to occur.

Job Description

January 9, 2009

A while back most of the people at my library had to work on a survey for the purpose of reevaluating job descriptions.  As a department head I was exempt, but I’m thinking listing my tasks might make a good exercise now in the wake of taking on a few more responsibilities in the wake of a co-workers maternity leave, a hiring freeze, and just generally being a gluttn for punishment.  So here we go, in the order I think of them:

Supervise a staff of 4 (1 full time, 3 part time)

Catalog all materials with the exceptions of fiction and a/v items.

Place and track orders for all materials

Investigate reports of defective/damaged a/v items and replace/repair them as necessary

withdraw materials

maintain catalog

run 2 patron workshops a month

run 2 video game events a month

keep statistics on items added/withdrawn each month

Make computer purchases

Maintain our computers and network

Act as liason between library and the consortia

Organize seasonal meetings of Western Mass tech services librarians

Serve on board of the MLA tech services section

Serve on consortia’s bibliographic and opac design committees

Serve on planning committee for the purpose of drafting a long-range plan

Oversee physical processing of materials

Oversee repairs of materials

Assist in crafting library policies

Future4Catalogers

January 6, 2009

Heidi Hoerman, one of the most observent people working in tech services today has started up a new blog on the future of cataloging.  But what really makes hers a site worth watching is her view that the field is about to undergo drastic and unavoidable changes, and that the people within the profession are largely tripping over each other while trying to figure out how to confront those changes.  A view I agree with entirely.

The Aftermath

December 4, 2008

Wow!  This was a good day.  My workshop went amazingly well and the responses I received for it were more than I possibly could have hoped for.  Huge thanks must go out to Janet Eckert and WMRLS who organized everything and served as the most gracious hosts imaginable.  And the attendees were just as wonderful, everyone seemed engaged, there was a good amount of participation (that I hope will continue online), and they let me rant a bit on copyright, RDA, and the new OCLC records policy.  

And I even got to show off my favorite website of the week, which had nothing to do with anything, goingtorain.com (Thanks Jason).  Sadly the answer we got from it was yes, and that prediction proved accurate.  But even the rain (ok snow while driving back over the mountain), couldn’t bum me out today.  Because I have a handfull of feedback forms that almost uniformly say the one improvement that could be made to the workshop, was to add more time to it.  And in the positive column I got some of the best praise possible, that it was actually practical and useful.

And to top it all off, lunch at the Black Sheep, home of the greatest cookie I know, the Repulican National Convention cookie (full of fruit and nuts).  They started making these back in ’04, they’re basically giant macaroons filled with whatever nuts, fruit, and bits of chocolate they had left over in the kitchen from all their other baked goods.  If you’re ever in Amherst you must stop in, the baguettes are amazing too.

The Current State of Tech Services on the Web

December 3, 2008

Well, it’s come at last.  Tomorrow I’ll be heading out the WMRLS for my first ever workshop, and will finally be able to put into use the links page in the right hand column.  In preparation I’ve spent a lot of time lately exploring the online technical services world, and over all it’s not very good.

There are almost no decent sites out there for the profession.  The Library of Congress’s cataloging and acquistions department is a notable exception, but besides that sites are largly poorly designed, out of date, or are just repositories for powerpoint presentations.  

The only real signs of life online are on the autocat list, the librarians for librarything forum, and across the blogosphere.  At least those resources are quite extensive and provide a great means of staying current, but they’re awful for getting up to speed.

So tomorrow should be interesting.  I’ve always thought that we need to spend more time focusing on life outside the field, which I guess is now going to become part of a theme for my talk.

But I’m still open to having people prove me wrong.  Find some more sites and let me know.

Reasons to Hate the DDC 314159

October 16, 2008

Here’s a puzzle.  Today we started weeding our books on weddings, and were annoyed by how fractured the collection had gotten.  The majority fall under 395.22, wedding etiquite.  Then there are a few under 392.5, wedding customs.  And finally there’s a bunch in 306.81, marriage.  

I think I can discount the 306 number as that should be for books about the relationship and not the ceremony, but the other two locations are more problematic, and we don’t really want to use both.  I’m inclined to the customs number, but the CIP data from most of the books go the way, along with our other full time cataloger.

I know this is where cataloger’s discretion comes into play, but there’s something wrong when the system in play is this ambiguous.