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OCLC Resource Sharing Breakthroughs Inaugural Conference 2017

03/29/2017 Professional Development Blog document delivery ILL ILLiad

On March 14-16, Erika and Terry attended the first inaugural OCLC Resource Sharing Breakthroughs Conference in Virginia Beach.

This was an interesting conference for quite a few reasons. Traditionally the “International ILLiad Conference,” OCLC’s licensing of ILLiad has morphed this conference into the “OCLC Resource Sharing” conference. (This may be the last time that the conference is held in Virginia–it was sold out months in advance.)

Tipasa Tuesday
The atmosphere was electric as OCLC kicked off their conference with a day that focused on their new cloud product Tipasa, a product so new in its development that it may be years before it’s ready for libraries our size. There were some tense moments in the ballroom of over 400 attendees from 43 states, DC, and Canada.

Tipasa is still in its early days, as was evident in the presentation. It’s a multi-year project with many phases. Tipasa is cloud-based and can run from any browser. OCLC is in the early stages of development. They are conducting interviews and site visits; conducting usability testing; and working with early adopters. Currently there are over 1,200 libraries worldwide that use ILLiad, and 62% of these are medium to large academic libraries that have done a lot of customization of ILLiad to take advantage of its ability to unmediate processes, among other things. The time frame for beginning to transition these libraries is 2018, but this may be optimistic. Only 75 libraries have volunteered to be early adopter libraries—these are very small libraries that have done no ILLiad customization and don’t work with other systems. OCLC is still in the early days of Phase 1. OCLC has begun to work with Rapid, upon whom we rely to do our consortial borrowing; however, they have only worked on the non-returnables piece. IDS, another of our significant consortium partners, is somewhere on the horizon but not yet on the roadmap. There are benefits to the new product, such as dual Spanish-English language capability, the ability to embed a chat widget, and the fact that it is mobile friendly. At this point, the system is still entirely mediated, with no routing; metrics are very limited; there are limited notification templates; and there is no NCIP integration. The BLC Resource Sharing COI will most likely be coordinating a letter to OCLC concerning functionality.

Keynote Storytelling
The keynote speaker was Todd Babiak, an inspirational speaker from Canada who spoke about the Story Engine. He talked about the importance of having a story. The use of a master story informs your brand, and to your brain, the story and the brand are the same. He advised us to return to our libraries and begin to investigate our stories. What is our story? What makes our library special? Don’t do focus groups; do individual interviews. Draw examples from patrons and staff about what makes us different. A common theme will emerge: the one problem only we can solve. That’s your story.

Ask Atlas
Ask Atlas was a session that focused on ILLiad processing tips by Atlas staff, including an interesting way to obtain robust ILLiad metrics. There was more news on the OCLC ILL cost calculator by Dennis Massie. We have reached out to him to express interest in early adoption of the calculator and he told us to expect a call soon. There are many issues in having an open calculator, including security, but there is also other sensitive information to consider, such as salaries. He referenced the most recent cost study by Leon and Kress, and we were part of that study.

Harness Your Resources
Erika and Terry presented the poster, “Harness Your Resources: Doing More with Less.” We presented on what we did to streamline and centralize our resource sharing operations and how we use systems like RapidILL and IDS Project to add efficiencies. We heard from many people who were interested in what we did–it’s a hot topic.

Assessment Plans and Interlibrary Loan
This session discussed options for using LibQual survey data in interlibrary loan strategic planning. Recommendations on how to use the data and align it to library and institutional missions were offered and examples given. One such example was using a positive comment such as, “I love the ILL paging service,” and exploring why that service is loved. By conducting additional inquiries, it could be possible to determine how much time a paging service saves faculty and researchers, and that time savings could be measured and translated into cost savings.

Library Information and Resource Sharing: Transforming Services and Collections
This session was presented by the authors of the book, “Library Information and Resource Sharing: Transforming Services and Collections.” Discussion was about connecting various library functions and collaborations to focus on user needs. This included advocating for information sharing in all forms. This could include sharing the expertise of one library’s staff with another library, such as Columbia and Cornell collaborating to share a subject specialist.

What They Teach You at Harvard: Resource Sharing Centralization and Workflow Enhancements
This talk mirrored much of what Erika and Terry presented in their poster session. Leila Smith, Associate Director of Access Services at Harvard Library, reviewed Harvard library’s centralization from 15 sites to 5. This involved consolidating OCLC symbols and absorbing workflows. Taking on more work was necessary because of staff departures and was possible by enhancing their workflows and implementing tools such as RapidILL and IDS Project to reduce mediated processing.

The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Symposium Inspired by Dan C. Hazen

10/31/2016 Professional Development Blog

On October 20th and 21st, I attended “The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Symposium Inspired by Dan C. Hazen,” which was sponsored by Harvard University and was held in Cambridge, MA. This post is a short summary of highlights from the event.

A prevailing theme at the symposium was the concept of collective collections and the implications of this concept on managing research libraries’ collections. As Lorcan Dempsey (Chief Strategist and VP, Membership & Research, OCLC) discussed, libraries are transitioning from a “print logic” (which bases value attributions on locally assembled print collections) to a “network logic” (which bases value attributions on the library’s ability to meet a variety of research and learning needs through networks of libraries and affiliated organizations working in concert).  Many interesting points were made at the symposium as the presenters and attendees grappled with the implications of the network logic. What follows is a listing that should give you a sense of some of the key issues related to collective collections and the network logic discussed at the meeting:

  • Dempsey drew a distinction between two categories of collections:
    • Outside-In collections: those knowledge resources that the library purchases from vendors and then makes accessible to its researchers.
    • Inside-Out collections: those knowledge resources that the library facilitates the creation of through a suite of services in support of scholarship and then enables publication, discoverability, and curation.
  • Outside-In collections have traditionally been at the core of library identities, but, increasing, these collections are being framed as just one service of several.
  • Reflecting the transition to collections as services, major publishers like Elsevier are shifting strategies from publication and delivery of content to enabling researchers to be more productive (through platforms such as Mendeley and SSRN) and then enabling for the assessment of this productivity (through products such as Pure and SciVal).
  • There was discussion of how best to “right-scale” collective collection management; in other words, how do we partner at the right scales. Also, how do we develop and deploy methodologies for decision-making at scale.
  • There was discussion of the need to develop more positions focused on collective collections over local collections: Galadriel Chilton’s position of Ivy Plus Libraries Director of Collection Initiatives was cited as an example the type of position that we need more of.
  • As the network logic expands, overlap between libraries’ general collections should decrease as different libraries can focus their collections in more specialized areas; also, special collections should become “specialer.”
  • There is a dialectical relationship between technology and user behaviors: there is a constant interplay of reconfigurations between the tools and the behaviors that surround those tools.
  • Library are working toward collectivity in a context of “radical scatter” – information is diffuse, disorganized, difficult to discover.
  • Libraries are still burdened by a print logic: there is a lingering desire for comprehensiveness and libraries still boast of the size of their collections even as this measure of value decreases in relevance. There is a focus on competition in collections among libraries when there needs to be a focus on partnership.
  • Transition from a print logic to a network logic will depend on uptake both from our user communities and from library personnel. Galadriel Chilton argued that, to facilitate this update, we need to incorporate the network logic into pre-existing narratives of meaning about collections.
  • Usage patterns at Yale University provide strong evidence for the growth of the network logic: Use of local collections is down by 33 percent over the past 15 years. Concurrently, there has been a 144 percent increase in resource sharing. The collective collection (primarily facilitated by Borrow Direct – resource sharing among the ivies) is overtaking the value of Yale’s local collections.
  • Discussions of initiatives for collective collections should include a business plan – a way to make the initiative sustainable longterm.

Concurrent with the discussions surrounding collective collections, there were a number of other interesting points made at the symposium:

  1. Tom Hyry (Harvard University) discussed how the paths of special collections and general collections are converging. Associated with this, there is a need to develop a holistic view of collections that will expand capacity and facilitate open conversation between the traditional disparate areas of special collections and technical services.
  2. Jane Kamensky (Harvard University) discussed how memory as captured in archives and special collections is gendered. Typically, donations of personal papers come through a person’s daughter – the person in the family that traditionally saves, annotates, and organizes family letters. This “hidden labor” behind collections has important implications regarding how we should think about our collections.
  3. Bethany Nowviskie (University of Virginia) discussed the concept of “speculative collections.” Using the artistic movement of Afrofuturism as her point of departure, she argued that the ways in which libraries organize, present, and make collections discoverable memorializes a linear view of history and does not foreground the possibilities that collections offer as problem-solving tools that are oriented towards the future and enable the envisioning of new possibilities. Libraries need to work collaboratively with their communities to develop new ways of designing information architectures that reflect an orientation towards change rather than immutability. Nowviskie cited Blacklight as a platform that suggests ways facilitate this new sort of information architecture.

Finally, the symposium contained remembrances of Dan Hazen (1947-2015) a leader in the field of collection development and a distinguished Latin Americanist at Harvard University. The symposium was inspired by Hazen’s forwarding think regarding collections and his enthusiasm for partnerships. Nearly every presentation at the symposium made reference to Hazen’s leadership in collection development and many cited his publications.

IDS Project Conference 2016

10/10/2016 Professional Development Blog Conference IDS Project Conference

In July, Joe Natale and Terry Palacios-Baughman attended the IDS Project Conference 2016 in Albany, NY. Terry attended the pre-conference and the regular conference, the regular conference as a grateful recipient of an IDS scholarship.

At preconference, Terry attended “IDS Logic Rule Creation.” This was a hands-on workshop that provided the basic concepts of how to create logic rules for streamlining ILLiad workflows. Logic rules included ways to change a status or run a query behind the scenes. Knowing what logic rules are possible and how they are created enables ILL staff to propose them to IDS who ultimately implements them.

The second pre-conference session was “Modifying ILLiad Webpages.” Here we were shown examples of more robust ILLiad pages and instructed on how to make the changes. Terry brought back her new knowledge and with Joe’s previous knowledge, they worked on improvements. The changes can be seen when you log into your My ILLiad page and include new tables of useful information on the main menu page.

To start off the regular conference, the keynote speaker was Dorothea Salo. She spoke of how we can influence change and are greater catalysts than we think we are.

In “Meet the new ILLiad Server Addons” we learned that with ILLiad’s last upgrade, addons are easier to install and modify. We were shown some of the new features and provided with the background of how to use them.

The IDS Project update session provided a review of IDS Logic Services including the standard number extractor service coming this fall to ILLiad. Logic will also be featuring dynamic due dates for lending that take into account consortial loan periods and custom reasons for cancellation. The PubMed API will allows ILLiad borrowers to check multiple document providers at once!

Joe attended a session on the state of interlibrary services in Cuba. This presentation offered a history of the service from the Revolution to the present. Card catalogs are alive and well and there is very little web presence.

Additional sessions that we attended included Managing Purging and Delinking, Lending Availability Services, and Massachusetts Library Delivery. We also learned that Atlas will be rolling out the capacity for ILLiad to store credit card information.

During the poster session, Terry presented a series of posters titled “Job Aid Applications.” The posters illustrated using job aids in ILL workflows to develop efficient, confident and independent staff.

The IDS Project gives genuine meaning to the term “resource sharing” and we walked out of many sessions with a sense of awe at the genius that abounds from the IDS project team.


IFLA World Congress 2016

09/12/2016 Professional Development Blog Conference

On August 14-19, Michael Rodriguez attended the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)’s 2016 World Library and Information Congress in Columbus, Ohio. Michael’s attendance was supported by a $1,000 fellowship grant he was awarded by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Michael, meaning me, wishes to thank IMLS, ALA, and UConn for making his attendance possible.

Michael in front of WorldCat
Michael + EFF sticker + OCLC tour earbuds, posing in front of the WorldCat servers.

Highlights included a tour of OCLC Headquarters, where Michael got to take a picture with WorldCat; a three-hour program on information privacy and security; and opportunities to engage with and learn from more than four thousand librarians of all types who traveled from as far afield as Uganda, Costa Rica, Egypt, and Italy. Takeaways included the need for better data security and privacy, which should inform licensing and website practices, plus the reconfiguration of print collections. Most of the papers presented at IFLA are available open access under a CC BY license. Michael and many other attendees live-tweeted sessions using the very active Congress hashtag: #wlic2016.

Print collections reconfiguration

One IFLA panel tackled “collections reconfiguration” (thorny issue, elegant word choice). Concordia University Libraries worked to dedupe print monographs published after 1950 (a date chosen to avoid discarding rare editions) and achieved a 10% print reduction by deduping alone. Concordia also had a collection development statement – not a detailed policy, but a statement of principles – approved by the University Senate, which presenter Meredith Griffin noted gave the library leverage in working with faculty to reduce the print collections footprint.

Meanwhile, California State University at Fullerton struggled to achieve faculty buy-in for reducing print collections. As presenters J. Michael DeMars and Ann Roll explained, in a black comedy worthy of Samuel Beckett, the library’s interim dean mandated that faculty be allowed to review and opt for retention at the item level of each and every print monograph slated for deselection. Naturally, one single professor opted to retain 1716 out of 1744 monographs in the initial pilot. Next time around, the librarians required faculty to input their reasons for retention, prompting retention requests to fall to 1816 out of 30,844 monographs, though “keep this important book” was copied and pasted hundreds of times into the retention form anyway. Interestingly, 12 percent of retention requests were from librarians, making the library the third largest departmental source of retention requests.

Think Cal State had it tough? Coleen Hoelscher had to weed the Marian Library’s rampantly overgrown special collections pertaining to Mary, at a theological institution focused on the study of Mary, with colleagues who were members of religious orders. Resistance was considerable.

Information security and privacy

Next up were invited speakers who addressed information security and patron privacy in our digital age. Polly Thistlethwaite of CUNY Graduate Center talked purging ILL data from ILLiad in collaboration with OCLC – a project recently featured in the Guardian. Talks from David Greene of Electronic Frontier Foundation, Alison Macrina of Library Freedom Project, and Jamie LaRue of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom each emphasized the importance of using HTTPS encryption protocols on library websites and eresources, even on those webpages that do not involve the transmission of social security or credit card numbers. Why? Because anyone with simple monitoring tools can squat on an unsecured network and see every interaction users have with a website. What’s more, on HTTP sites none of the data is encrypted in transmission, so nefarious third parties can intercept, track, and even modify the data during transmission without users realizing it. Given librarians’ emphasis on patron privacy, unsecure web services are problematic.

Reflecting these concerns, the White House ordered all federal government websites to implement HTTPS by the end of 2016, stating that “all browser activity should be considered private and sensitive.” At IFLA, Google’s copyright senior counsel, Fred Von Lohmann, reminded us that Google penalizes unsecure HTTP websites by ranking them lower in search results. Starting in January 2017, Google Chrome will flag HTTP websites as “not secure.”

Later, I looked up Marshall Breeding’s Library Technology Reports on library systems and services. This year, Breeding established that 85% of ARL libraries encrypt neither their websites nor their discovery searches or catalogs (pp. 30-33), a situation that Breeding calls “nothing short of alarming” given how highly libraries value patron privacy and how encryption for all parts of all web services is fast becoming an industry standard.

To remedy this situation, presenter Alison Macrina gave a shoutout to the Digital Privacy Pledge, by which libraries and library-associated signatories vow to implement HTTPS on their own web properties and to cease using unencrypted vendor services. Twenty organizations, notably UC Davis and DPLA as well as providers like JSTOR, have onboarded thus far. Macrina also cited free tools such as Privacy Badger, HTTPS Everywhere, KeePassX, and PIA that people can use to understand risks and transmit data securely. Meanwhile, EFF explains what librarians need to know about HTTPS.

Michael is now a member and proud wearer of an EFF lapel pin.

Ivies Plus Discovery Day

08/05/2016 Professional Development Blog Conference discovery

On July 25, Michael Rodriguez and Janice Christopher attended the Ivies Plus Discovery Day at MIT. (The Ivies Plus group comprises Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Penn, Princeton, and Yale.) Attendees included user experience designers, developers, catalogers, systems librarians, electronic resource managers, and others, demonstrating the broad scope of library areas impacted by discovery layers.

MIT Beaver With Human
Michael holds up his comically large and wrinkled MIT beaver t-shirt, which he won at Discovery Day by knowing the origins of “grok.”

Chris Bourg, director of the MIT Libraries, delivered the opening keynote on making serendipity cool again. Bourg took as her inspiration Roy Tennant’s observation that “only librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find . . . and lots of folks like to discover.” Bourg’s theme was the desire for serendipity, how a task force at MIT is hearing from faculty about how they want an online discovery environment that transcend physical browsing, how they want to make “happy and unexpected discoveries,” to learn things that they didn’t know that they didn’t know. Such a discovery experience requires a different kind of searching from the 2-D linear searching that libraries, Amazon, and even Google offer—it would be a 3-D, associative search that resembles neural networks and mirrors how humans actually think. The first librarian to champion this was Muriel Cooper from MIT, back in 1994. MIT is working with a start-up called Yewno (not out to users yet) that will potentially deliver this type of discovery, or at least a basic flavor of it. Yewno succeeds Stanford University’s old Grokker discovery tool. Bourg wrote up her talk on her blog. Or search Twitter for the hashtag #iviesdiscovery.

After an update on the Open Discovery Initiative, we were treated to round-robin demos of the “state of discovery” at each of the Ivies Plus schools. These demos had a couple of interesting trends. First, Blacklight, the open-source discovery layer, was heavily represented as a layer on top of traditional ILSs, along with next-gen discovery (Summon, Primo, EDS) – most sites had multiple interfaces. Sometimes the next-gen discovery was used just for articles retrieval. Second, the “bento box” display is popular – it takes the unified search results offered by the discovery interface and re-silos it into books, articles, videos, etc.

The libraries are doing interesting discovery customizations. Harvard has integrated its archives and finding aides into Primo and is working to customize Primo into its sole discovery interface for images—a project requiring them to build new scopes and create grid displays. Princeton’s Blacklight integrates alternative scripts like Chinese and Arabic into item heading displays, so users can read right to left in the original script. Brown is trying to move discovery away from Conway’s Law—the concept that organizations end up designing systems that mirror the communication structures of those organizations. Harvard is shifting from a projects-based, one-and-done model toward a model of continuous improvement. There was a fascinating conversation about the degree to which libraries should prioritize discovery versus access – making happy and unexpected discoveries versus being confident that the links will take us to where we need to go.

What emerged in the Q&A at the end of the keynote, and the ODI update, and the discovery demos, and the reason there were so many different flavors of library staff represented in the room, was that making any of these discovery platforms look simple on the front end requires a lot of heavy lifting on the back end. In the course of one major web redesign project, for example, Yale hired four dedicated personnel. Grace is achieved through collaborative programming, configuration, metadata, knowledge base management, user experience, and more.

ELUNA 2016

07/07/2016 Professional Development Blog Alma Conference ELUNA ExLibris Primo

In May 2016, seven UConn Library staff attended the ExLibris Users of North America (ELUNA) Annual Conference, along with Technical Seminar training, in Oklahoma City. More recently, we held a roundtable conversation to share what we learned with all staff. This blog post records some of what we learned.

Big thanks to Sheryl Bai and Janice Christopher for contributing to this post, and to Tim Dannay, Joelle Thomas, Claudia Lopes, and Elisabeth Umpleby for being such phenomenal conference buddies and colleagues.

If anyone would like the PowerPoints or other information, Michael is happy to help.

Michael Rodriguez (Electronic Resources Librarian, UConn Storrs)

Developing A-Z Database Lists

East Tennessee State University’s Jacob Kindle and Clemon Travis delivered an extraordinary presentation on the Primo X-Services API. They used this API to build an A-Z database list native to Alma/Primo, eliminating the redundancy of maintaining separate lists in the catalog, website, and LibGuides. They began by creating an Alma electronic collection and cataloging each database, plus developing normalization rules, scoping, PNX display, facets, and code table changes. They customized the API-generated interface using CSS and JSON. Results are impressive. Before she found new pastures, Joelle Thomas and I became excited at the prospect of using the Primo API to replace the obsolescent Research Database Locator, used by Storrs and the regional campuses.

Troubleshooting Access

Michael and Sheryl attended a highly informative session by the University of Minnesota’s Sunshine Carter and Stacie Traill on “Troubleshooting Electronic Access Issues in an Alma / Primo Central Environment.” One of the very first Alma and Primo Central customers, U of Minnesota shared workflows, tools, and staff training approaches for diagnosing and resolving e-resource issues. All their materials are available open access. Michael and Tim were particularly intrigued by browser extensions and bookmarklets such as Live HTTP Headers and UResolver Debug View. Michael attended another helpful related session, “Picking Apart the Alma Link Resolver” by Rose Krause and Andrea Eickholt of Eastern Washington University, along with a Technical Seminar training session on troubleshooting e-resource access in Alma/Primo. Following the conference, the Storrs-based Licensing & Acquisitions unit members shared and tested techniques for troubleshooting electronic resource access.

Migrating Ezproxy

An odd man out at ELUNA was Texas Tech University’s talk on migrating from self-hosted to OCLC-hosted Ezproxy. As UConn is planning a similar migration, Michael made a point of attending this talk. Texas Tech migrated in July 2015, but it was not till December that the final kinks were worked out of their hosted solution. Justin Daniel and Lynne Edgar cited the ultimate benefits of migration but advised organizations planning the move to deep dive into their Ezproxy authentication methods, SSL certificates, mobile device compatibility, and other seemingly straightforward elements that may create unexpected complications. Most of the specific problems encountered by Texas Tech emanated from poor communication and lack of in-house expertise. The presentation was helpful in illustrating what not to do for a successful Ezproxy migration – and Sheryl, who also attended the session, concurs with this assessment. TTU’s experience is written up in the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship.

Leaning into the New Primo UI

Among ELUNA’s highlights was the demoing of the new Primo user interface. The new UI features mobile responsive design and boasts a modern look and feel. Thanks to Joelle, UConn’s partially functional beta instance is already online. There is also a sandbox instance. Neither beta version is available for public consumption for months to come, but feel free to click around.

Developing Professionals

Also at ELUNA, Michael Rodriguez and Janice Christopher volunteered to serve on the 2016 conference planning committee for the ExLibris Northeast Users Group (ENUG). This regional library conference will take place on October 27-28 in SUNY New Paltz, New York. Proposals are due by July 20. Janice, who also presented at this year’s ELUNA, comments that ENUG is a friendly, useful gathering of library users of ExLibris products. She encourages UConn librarians to consider submitting a presentation proposal or two.

Janice Christopher (Systems Librarian, UConn Storrs)

Intensifying Analytics

Analytics is the place. I attended several sessions on Alma and Primo Analytics between the Tech Seminar (M-T) and ELUNA (W-F). I had several “Aha!” moments: Use the key values to sort dates; “prompted” doesn’t mean what it did in Voyager; use the report description field to provide detailed description, requester, date, purpose; use the Oracle BI Search feature to find reports (good motivation for good metadata); % and _ are wildcards (multiple- and single-character respectively); how to replace text; the MINUS query; etc. Also found out that ExL has a small group dedicated to creating out of the box Analytics reports and dashboards in all areas, and those would be good to look at and use as-is or modified. Good job to those of you forging ahead with Analytics, but we’re only scratching the surface. And now Primo has its own Analytics and is in the process of growing. (N.B. Greenglass? All the circulation data came out of Voyager—15 years’ worth.)

Crowning APIs

The APIs are the other place. After attending an excellent session from the ExL VP for Development, I have a much better sense of what the APIs can be used for and what you can achieve with them: as he said, “You used to query the database with SQL, now you use the APIs.” The cool and scary additional thing, though, is you can use the APIs to change data. (With great care and after sufficient testing, of course.) One issue, as was pointed out on the Alma list last week, is that ExL is segregating a certain amount of capability in the APIs, but using them requires programming skills that not all libraries have. We have them, but can’t wait for a sprint to complete projects. Hence, I will be trying to pick up some programming skills…

Meeting Shareholders

ExLibris plenaries are like shareholders’ meetings. I have no idea why this had not occurred to me before; I’ve attended enough of the darn things. At ELUNA, ExLibris management does a lot of talking: Wednesday morning, two-thirds of Thursday morning, and early Thursday afternoon. Recaps of the last year, the roadmap for the next year, reports from Next-Gen Systems, Operations (the Cloud, basically), strategic directions from the resident Big Thinker, all that sort of stuff. They didn’t mention this past year’s revenues (the previous year’s were $100 million), but did talk a lot about joining with ProQuest. It does help deal with ExL if you think of yourself sitting there as one shareholder, owning one share. Some institutions may have a pile of shares. Sometimes you magically find a number of shares under a mattress. ELUNA is the shares multiplier – it is the users’ group, and as such tries to influence ExL’s direction, with varying degrees of success. I do have to give ExL management credit for taking open questions from the floor at the annual Q&A—not many companies do that.

Sheryl Bai (Systems Librarian, UConn Health)

Integrating ILLiad and Alma

UConn Health is currently implementing ILLiad and an ILL staff mentioned this program to Sheryl. Presented by Northwestern University’s Alice Trippit and Kurt Munson, the session focused on integrating the ILL functionalities of Alma and ILLiad, with Alma handling the borrowing and lending and ILLiad handling the notices to patrons. The ILLiad Addon sends four NCIP messages from ILLiad to Alma. It handles creating incoming borrowing request item records and the associated patron hold, deleting the record when borrowing item is returned, outgoing lending requests are moved to the Resource Sharing Library and returned lending items are restored to their permanent location. The presenters provided screenshots showing how to configure Alma for this optimization.

Troubleshooting Access

Like Michael, Sheryl highlighted the University of Minnesota’s “Troubleshooting Electronic Access Issues in an Alma/ Primo Central Environment.” Presenters provided helpful toolkits, flowcharts, schedules, and guidelines.

Transitioning Authentication

“Transitioning from PDS to SAML in Alma/Primo,” delivered by ExLibris rep Andrew Walsh, was a Tech Seminar session introducing SAML (Secure Single Sign-On Protocol) to replace the currently used PDS user authentication method. SAML is the most standard and secure framework for authentication and authorization for web application. PDS provides an Active-Passive solution for authentication while SAML provides an Active-Active solution. The new Primo-SAML Authentication method supports LDAP, and SAML authentication and can handle cascading and parallel configuration using Primo Authentication Manager. The presenter showed how to configure Alma/Primo. With ExL support, customers should be able to implement SAML themselves.

International ILLiad Conference 2016

04/22/2016 Professional Development Blog Atlas Conference data ILL ILLiad licensing PDA textbooks

On March 15, Stan and I joined about 400 ILLiad users from the four corners of the globe as well as Atlas and OCLC staff to attend the International ILLiad conference in Virginia Beach.

The keynote speaker was Mary Sauer-Games, Vice President of Product Management at OCLC.  Her talk was focused on Millennials, who have high expectations for quality and speed.  They expect a response in 10 minutes; to meet this expectation you need to be filling with your own collection if available.  To meet Millennials where they are, libraries should be using social media: ILL could share trending titles and subjects, instructional videos, etc.  Use responsive design.  Check out OCLC’s Geek the Library program. Yet, despite the expectations for rapid turnaround times, Millennials still prefer print to e-books.

In “Writing a Comprehensive ILL Operations Report: Methods, Data, and Results” we heard about looking at and charting your operations across the board: ILL print PDA, ILLiad, consortia comparison, different systems, shipping, staffing (which we do!).  Year to year comparison examples were shown.  It’s important to share your story, to show how and why metrics change (e.g. due to staffing, systems, and policies) and how those factors affect your metrics.  Part of the story is not the story.

“An ILL Practitioner’s Role: Advocating Open Educational Resources” talked about textbooks and ILL.  Textbooks are problematic: hard to get back from patrons; fill rates are low, arrivals delayed; many become non-returns or overdue.  Partner with your campus bookstore, collection development team, acquisitions department, circulation and reserve.  Lots of statistics were shown to back up need for open access.  You can retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute.  Free or low cost to print.  Many are peer-reviewed and high quality.  Different groups doing this were profiled.  ILL staff can get involved by providing metrics, lists of cancelled textbooks with faculty; share metrics with student government groups.  Add OER sources to your catalog.  Reach out to faculty.  Award faculty for reviewing books.  We’re already doing a lot of this.

In her session “Caught by the Copyright!” Gail Perkins Barton of the University of Memphis presented her library’s strategy for reducing copyright costs.  She opened with a discussion of common guidelines and best practices, e.g., including copyright notices on request forms, the “Rule of Two” and “Rule of Five,” etc., and then reviewed the options libraries have to be compliant with copyright guidelines, from denying requests to partnering with document suppliers.  The suppliers covered were “ScienceDirect: Article Choice,” “Copyright Clearance Center – Get it Now,” and “Reprints Desk: Article Galaxy.”  A price comparison revealed that Article Galaxy was the most economical, and that their turnaround time was excellent.  She also showed how these services could be integrated with ILLiad. Another component of this presentation was “Tiered Service” which limits the fees a library is willing to pay according to the patron’s status, e.g., undergraduate vs. graduate vs. faculty. Librarians are also encouraged to take advantage of free resources, previews on publishers’ websites, etc.  We already do a lot of this already.

“Managing Courier and Reciprocal Borrowing Relationships” addressed and provided solutions to the problems that may arise when a library is engaged in multiple consortia. Different fee structures, loan periods, and delivery methods can all conspire to complicate relationships with partner libraries.  (We encounter this with libraries in CT who use both OCLC and the state library system to place requests.)  The presenter, Jen Salvo-Eaton, University of Missouri – Kansas City, demonstrated how ILLiad and the Customization Manager can help manage these relationships, through the use of routing rules and group assignments, customization of templates, etc. She also recommended using statistics to evaluate the quality of service provided by partner libraries – and not anecdotal evidence.  Stats can be especially helpful when considering/justifying leaving or joining a group.

The Atlas Systems update session was informative.  In May ILLiad 8.7 becomes available.  This is a maintenance release and will have many behind the scenes improvements.  8.5 will no longer be supported. Genie Powell also discussed Atlas Systems’ role with ArchiveSpace as a registered service provider, additions to the video training library, and the concierge service.

In “Half the Work: Circulating Lending and Borrowing Requests from ILLiad in Alma Using NCIP,” Northwestern shared their story.  They implemented NCIP in Alma for ILLiad and turned on both borrowing and lending options.  Using Z39.50, you can circulate ILL borrowed loans in Alma; in lending it precludes you from having to check lending items out separately in Alma.  It moves the lending request from a permanent location to the resource sharing library (lending check out item).  Upon return it moves it from the resource sharing library (lending check in item).  The ILLiad addon sends messages to Alma when records are updated via event handlers in ILLiad.  In borrowing, it creates a brief record for the loan and ties it to the patron (borrowing accept item).  Upon return, the system deletes the brief record and disassociates it from the patron (borrowing check in item).  All ILLiad machines must have the addon.  You must disable all Alma notifications.  Lending is easier to deal with than borrowing, which is complex. Despite some frustrating experiences, the presenter said he was glad they went forward with the integration, and proposed the formation of support group for librarians interested in integrating Alma and ILLiad.

We all met to hear about OCLC updates with Katie Birch.  Many libraries have updated their days to fill to 1-2 days, an excellent example in resource sharing commitment.  Multiple address issues have been fixed and mis-shipped errors have greatly decreased.  Outstanding glitches should be fixed shortly.  Lenders can now refund any request that has been set to shipped and charged with IFM; only the full charge can be refunded.  Once the charge or refund has occurred, no further charges or refunds can be actioned on a given request.  Available reports were reviewed.  Questions about symbol consolidation and satellite instances are encouraged and can be submitted to Tony Melvyn.  Remember that your symbol should follow your time to fill commitment: if you share a symbol with an off campus repository, your time to fill should reflect the true time to fill implications.  ILLiad has lots of reports on borrowing and lending, take advantage of them (which we do).  Use (the OCLC Community Center) to make enhancement requests, ask questions, get news and documentation, and order IFLA vouchers.  Also member forums.

Poster presentations were shared at the social.  I presented “Smart CATs: Cancelling Textbook Requests the Smart Way,” which outlined our process for cancelling students’ requests for textbooks ordered for UConn classes.  Staff from Emory and Maryland called it brilliant.  Atlas rather amusingly placed my poster next to one by William Gee of East Carolina University; William was presenting on why obtaining textbooks is a good idea.  We had a lot of laughs about that, I can tell you. It was also an impromptu meeting of the Patrick Carr Fan Club.  Also visiting my poster was my old student worker (and Dave Moroch’s granddaughter) Alyssa Grimshaw, who now works at the Yale Medical Library. In the photo I’m talking with Marie Hansen from Emory.

Erika's Poster


In “ILL by the Numbers: Using Custom Searches and Statistics to Increase the Noticeability of Your ILL Department,” we learned more about searches and reporting.  You should keep metrics and provide reports to keep conversations going, keep you relevant.  Make your data available (which we do).  Examples were shown.  You can customize and share these with library staff who don’t come to you.

Stan gave his presentation, “Stop saying No: Improving Fill Rates and Reducing Lending Denials in Interlibrary Loan,” which, along with the other sessions, is viewable on the Atlas Systems’ training site.  Attendees responded with numerous questions and comments. The photo is below: he had a full house.

Stan's Presentation

In “Unlocking the Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States,” we learned about the latest undertaking of the Code revision, headed by Ohio State University.  It will now be updated every 7 years to keep it current.

Its purpose: to establish principles to facilitate requesting and regulate the exchange of materials.  It only applies to US libraries; international code is dictated by IFLA.  The Code pertains to all library types and sizes and is system-neutral.  The original code is 100 years old this year and began as the Code of Practice in 1916.  Interesting quotes were shared from the original code.

What to do now: make sure your local practice and policies are not in violation of the Code.


  • ILL is for single patron use and not for groups or classes
  • Use secure packaging, no staples, and no labels on books
  • Ship to correct location
  • Pay attention to the redefined due date which eliminates shipping
  • The main intention for interlibrary loan is for when you do not have a local copy, or if your local copy is unavailable: missing, damaged, checked out, etc.
  • ILL with other countries is encouraged
  • Requesting library must specify special requirements, comply with copyright law, be aware of related guidelines (CONTU)
  • Pay promptly for lost materials, request renewals before due dates when possible
  • Generous loan periods are encouraged as well as lending without fees
  • If you do bill, do so promptly
  • Fill all formats
  • Work with those responsible for negotiating licenses to include favorable ILL terms

In “The Request Must Flow: Practical Workflows for Resource Sharing across Multiple Locations,” Binghamton University’s Melissa Perez recounted the library’s challenges with processing ILL requests at different locations on campus.  She emphasized the importance of regular communication between staff, which she facilitates through “Resource Sharing Roundtables” (similar to our RCL DD-ILL summer meetings), and consistency between the locations with regards to policies and workflows.

The conference concluded with its regular “Unconference” session.  Attendees suggested topics which they could then discuss as designated tables.  Stan spent quite a bit of time at the RapidILL table, and shared our experience with the RapidR program.

Center for Research Libraries’ Council of Voting Members Meeting – 2016

04/18/2016 Professional Development Blog

On April 14, 2016, I attended the Center for Research Libraries’ (CRL) Council of Voting Members Meeting in Chicago. This post is a short summary of the meeting.

Scott Waugh (UCLA, Chair of the CRL Board of Directors) began the meeting by briefly highlighting some potential areas of focus for CRL in the future: digitization of document delivery, an enhanced online presence, expanded global partnerships, expanded membership, improved services to members, and efficiencies to reduce costs.

Next, Thomas Burish (Notre Dame, CRL Secretary) provided CRL’s Secretary Report. He started by explaining that most of CRL’s funding comes through membership fees. Growth in membership has been challenged in recent years by the economy (and resultant library budget cuts). Also, some libraries have analyzed return-on-investment and concluded that the benefits of CRL membership do not justify the costs. There are 219 members of CRL, but eight members have notified CRL that they will not be renewing their memberships. CRL is working hard to recruit new members. Prospective areas for growth are land grant institutions, mid-sized private universities, and elite four year schools. CRL has marketing activities planned for the coming year.

Bernie O’Reilly (CRL President) then gave the President’s Report. CRL is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its Technical Reports Archive and Image Library (TRAIL), which digitizes engineering technical reports. This initiative has become one of HathiTrust’s top 25 contributors. TRAIL is one of several initiatives that are working under the CRL umbrella. Others include an effort to preserve Afghan publications, the CRL Latin Americanist Group’s preservation of El Diario de Juarez, and the South Asian Open Archives Initiative. O’Reilly stated that the top requestors of CRL physical collections are Harvard, Michigan, Notre Dame, Chicago, and Minnesota. The number of requests they are getting for loans is steadily declining, but the number of items they are lending is growing; O’Reilly said that this suggests that more researchers are taking advantage of online access to CRL collections. The top users of CRL online collections include Texas A&M, Penn State, Florida State, Hong Kong, and the Max Planck Institute. Once a CRL document is digitized, it is made accessible to all CRL institutions. Over seven million pages from CRL’s collection have been scanned to date. O’Reilly noted trends in use: there is growing interest in mining the literature of troubled parts of Asia and the Middle East, particularly materials related to religion, law, the courts, and civil society. Beyond scanning materials based on requests, CRL is also engaging in the strategic digitization of certain materials. In particular, they are digitizing international government documents that they anticipate may be repressed after a new regime takes power. CRL has identified the most corrupt nations based on the ratings of the organization Transparency International and then concentrated on the digitization of these countries’ materials. These materials will be made freely accessible online.

O’Reilly stated that another area of focus for CRL is the licensing of databases. Licensing of databases is a fairly new initiative. This year they offered 54 databases for purchase through them, an increase from the 30 they offered last year. CRL is interested in licensing databases not just to be a “buying club” but to use its large membership to gain leverage on use rights like data mining and also to ensure that vendors disclose the full contents of their databases. They are trying to focus on a niche of databases focusing on news and data concerning censuses, geospatial, and business. Vendors of these databases do not always consider libraries as their primary customers and so libraries have struggled to get leverage in negotiations with these vendors. CRL is trying to change this.

O’Reilly concluded with what he termed as three big questions:

  1. Is our digital investment paying off? The amount of content CRL digitizes pales in comparison to other efforts such as Google Books and HathiTrust. However, the content that they digitize is more unique. They are involved in discussions with HathiTrust to collaborate to assess relative strengths and weaknesses and pursue a strategic alignment.
  2. Should more CRL resources be OA? O’Reilly noted the potential for a “free rider problem” in which non-members could benefit from CRL-digitized content without subsidizing CRL’s digitization efforts. There are currently 219 members, but about 700 institutions in the United States and Canada fit the profile of a CRL member. O’Reilly further noted that some materials that they digitize are not in the public domain and therefore could not be made openly accessible. This question inspired a number comments from the attendees, with strong consensus that increasing access to knowledge is a core value of librarianship and, to the extent possible, CRL should attempt to make its resources openly accessible. Although the result may be some “free riding,” the ability to steer the direction of CRL and the materials that it digitizes would remain a major benefit that only members would enjoy.
  3. Should CRL merge selected serials titles with related holdings at the Linda Hall Library? See this page for details: According to O’Reilly, this was a “no-brainer” but, since decisions about CRL collections are up to the membership, they will pursue an e-referendum to discuss this issue.

Xuemao Wang (University of Cincinnati) provided the Treasurer’s Report. He reported that in FY15 there was a deficit in CRL’s accounts of about $377,000 and a projected deficit of about $500,000 in FY16. A deficit in FY17 is also projected. However, all of these deficits are due to a deliberate decision by CRL to draw on their significant reserve funds to build their investments in the key areas of digitization, database licensing, and collection analysis. They do not expect to be in a deficit beginning in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, when they plan to begin growing their reserve funds again.

ALCTS Midwinter Symposium “Re-envisioning ‘Technical Services’ to Transform Libraries”

04/12/2016 Professional Development Blog

On January 8, I attended the daylong ALCTS Symposium “Re-envisioning ‘Technical Services’ to Transform Libraries: Identifying Leadership and Talent Management Practices.” You can read a short summary of the symposium’s overall scope here. With this post, I wish to summarize a few of the sessions at the forum that I found most interesting.

The symposium’s keynote speaker was Keith Webster, Dean of Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University. His presentation took a high-level view of the future of libraries and how technical services can potentially fit into that future. He first highlighted some factors that might lead to a pessimistic view about the future of libraries. Indeed, although libraries are busier than ever, budgets are often flat or decreasing and the use that libraries receive is not always related to the tools and services that they provide. Additionally, the easy availability of journal content in online formats along with the emergence of a myriad of free online research management tools means that many faculty rarely if ever come into the library. Having explained the grounds for pessimism, Webster advocated for optimism. He traced a generational evolution in which libraries have progressed from being collection-centered to being client-centered, experience-centered, and, centered on connected learning experiences. The current generation of libraries is centered on collaborative knowledge, media, and fabrication facilities; uses of library space for purposes such as maker spaces show how libraries can take on new roles while also retaining their tradition status as sites for knowledge creation. He went on to identify five trends in the academic landscape that libraries need to be aware of:

  1. Evolving research workflows: Throughout the research cycle of planning, experimentation, dissemination, and ideation, free online digital services (e.g., ResearchGate, ReadCube, FigShare, etc.) have emerged that are transforming scholarly workflows. Libraries have been slow to develop tools and services that fit into these workflows.
  2. Evolving communication methods: There is a trend toward increasing use of social media; increasing multi-author papers, a growing emphasis on reproducibility and the repurposing of data to enable new findings.
  3. Uptake of Open Access models of publishing.
  4. Open science: Researchers today are sharing research knowledge more widely than ever in the past. The article is now just one of many scholarly outputs.
  5. Funding: Increasing quantities of money in academia continue to flow into scientific research; concurrently, there is an increased public focus on tuition and the return-on-investment for higher education.

With these trends in mind, Webster asked where are libraries going. He advocate for the continued migration from print to online collections, review of shelving location of lesser-used collections, repurposing of the library as a learning space, the embedding of library expertise and resources in contexts outside the libraries where they are most needed, and an increasing focus on distributed collections. Finally, Webster zeroed in on technical services, suggesting that technical services entail all of those operations that connect communities with information. He said that one of the most important transitions in technical services is one that is occurring from locally owned collections to facilitated collections. Along with this, he remarked on a trend from scarcity to abundance: books going out of print is becoming something of the past; most publishers now say that they will never allow a book to go out of print. He said that technical services departments have roles to play in supporting evolutions in the scholarly record from a focus primarily on research outputs (e.g., published article) to inputs (e.g., data sets) and he also talked about the roles that technical services can play in support of research analytics and data analytics. In conclusion, he remarked that technical services personnel have a strong track record of engagement and change and we will need to build on that track record to explore the changes on the horizon.

Another of the symposium’s speakers, Meredith Taylor (University of Texas, Austin) discussed the concept of talent management (TM) and how it might be applied within the contexts of technical services work. She defined talent management as an integrated set of processes, programs, and cultural norms in an organization designed and implemented to attract, develop, deploy, and retain talent to achieve strategic objectives and meet future business needs. TM differs from traditional HR work by being more proactive, integrated, organization-focused (rather than individual-focused), customized, and aligned with organizational strategies. Taylor said that one reason that TM is particularly relevant to libraries today is that, between 2015 and 2025, it is projected that 30 percent of the library workforce will be retiring; additionally, there are demographic shifts in library workforces and, since 2005, an 82 percent turnover rate in the executive leadership of ARL libraries. Specifically within technical services divisions of libraries, workforce trends include decreasing numbers of personnel, the outsourcing of some functions, and an increased reliance on paraprofessional staff. With these shifts, Taylor asked: Are libraries meeting retraining and re-skilling needs? Are libraries losing critical knowledge? Are libraries able to find qualified candidates to fill positions? Having posed these questions, Taylor discussed the results of an ARL SPEC KIT study that she co-authored on TM in 2014. The study showed that talent challenges included a scarcity of fiscal resources, salary inequities, retirements, inability to retrain/re-skill current workforces, and a lack of ability to find and retain qualified personnel – particularly for positions in IT and senior management. Moreover, the study showed three troubling trends in libraries: (1) a lack of a systemic approach to TM, (2) widening skill gaps in the workforce, and (3) a lack of IT skills and executive expertise. To confront these problems, Taylor advocated that libraries strive to align their HR strategy to their library strategy, collect data to support informed decision-making, and make resource decisions based on TM. Programmatic starting points for libraries include developing a competency model, completing a job analysis, and undertaking a compensation analysis and succession planning. Other starting points include identifying high potential employees for development, creating customized development plans, and developing a succession plan.

The symposium’s final speaker, Jenica Rogers (Director of Libraries at SUNY Potsdam), gave a presentation titled “Bringing the Back Room Forward.” Rogers began the presentation by describing her background in technical services and emphasizing her view that technical services work is deeply connected with public services. She then discussed the challenges that her library faced when four of the library’s nine librarian positions became vacant in 18 months. In response, she led a reorganization within the library. One position created as a result of the reorganization was the position of Metadata and Subscription Resources Librarian. The search for this position failed due to a lack of qualified candidates and, as a result, Rogers’ library made some very minor changes to the position description and changed the title of the position to Coordinator of Technical Services & Discovery, which they hoped would make the position sound more prestigious and managerial. With this second search, the position received significantly more qualified candidates. Rogers was concerned, however, to find that, with the change in job title, there were significantly less female applicants. From this search process, Rogers suggested that one takeaway was that language use (e.g., traditional versus change-oriented) impacts candidate pools and that librarians should encourage potential candidates to look past traditional boundaries. She also said that we should explore cross-boundary experimentation in technical services in collaborate in a way that honors expertise. Finally, she advocated for transformations in graduate education so that students are prepared for library positions that do not yet exist in libraries.

ALCTS Role of the Professional Librarian in Tech Services Interest Group meeting at ALA Midwinter

01/14/2016 Professional Development Blog ALA Midwinter 2016 RPLTS

The ALCTS Role for the Professional Librarians in Technical Services Interest Group held their biannual program at the American Library Association Midwinter meeting in Boston, MA on Saturday January 9th from 10:30 am EST to 11:30 am EST.  The structure of the program consisted of two presentations followed by a guided discussion. Three questions were prepared in cooperation with the presenters and shared with the audience at the beginning of the program. Those questions were: (1) What one thing do you think you can help staff accept change and collaboration?; (2) How have you encouraged colleagues to self-identify by skills and abilities rather than job title?; (3) What are obstacles and opportunities in creating a learning environment focused on growth?. The guided discussion also included the opportunity for the audience to ask direct questions to the presenters. The slides can be found online at:

Solution Creators: Enabling Innovation in Technical Services Departments

The first speaker was Sally Gibson, Head of Cataloging, Acquisitions, and Processing at Illinois State University (ISU). Sally explained that she has been at ISU for two years and experience ISU’s landscape as a changing one. There has been reduction of silos, more focus on collaboration, more outsourcing, and adoption of how to add value to services. The biggest question faced with outsourcing as stated by Sally Gibson was: “What are the routine tasks to outsource?” This question lead to digger deeper into how routine tasks can be less onerous or be done by less people. These were hard questions to ask but necessary when faced with budget restrictions and staff reductions. Sally noted that at the time of her presentation the state of Illinois had yet to pass the state budget. Despite that, the overall picture had to change from negative to positive. For this to happen, Sally advocated the need to focus on learning outcomes and solutions to problems instead of processes.

For technical services, this focus according to Sally revolves around a holistic view of solving problems collaborative. There is a tendency to emphasize the individual and an individual’s job title. This doesn’t allow for change and growth. Instead, centering on skills and abilities, staff can move forward. Further, a synergy of abilities and skills across units promotes collaboration. As such, functions and roles are valued and act as a bridge to understanding how tools work and can be adopted throughout the library. Another issue with focusing on titles rather than taking a more holistic view is that it displays a comfort level with a traditional approach.

Definitely, changing perspectives can be daunting and involves taking a risk with which many are not comfortable. Sally highlighted the importance of evaluating employee strengths and their comfort levels. Further, she noted the overarching significance in disseminating information and engaging in discussions throughout the library. Sally’s primary question was: Is your unit using an active learning environment that promotes growth? Sally defined growth as the desire to embrace challenges, an intelligence that can be developed, an open exchange of ideas, exploration, and the desire to understand the big picture, the holistic view. Furthermore and more importantly, a learning environment is one where every employee is valued.

A learning environment strives to overcome barriers exist. One obstacle is fear: fear of failure, sharing, risk, being wrong. Another is trust. Sally again brought out the positives in relation to fear and trust. It is crucial to integrate flexibility in the learning environment. Growth involves making mistakes. Instead of being punished for those, a learning environment learns from them integrating the flexibility needed to change course sometimes multiple times. Trust here is key as Sally clarified. It is through communication for example in a circle where curiosity, open discussions are key. By valuing the skills and abilities of employees, they begin to be empowered and look at solutions holistically.

Sally concluded that solution creators work in learning environment that supports growth. Solution creators recognize patterns and provide meaning. Everyone has a voice. Open discussion is valued. Questioning practice and procedures is encouraged. Skills and abilities are value and trust is key.

Technical Services Librarians as Factotum: The Reality in a Small Academic Library

The second and last speaker was Denise Garofalo, Associate Librarian, Systems and Catalog Services, Kaplan Family Library and Learning Center, Mount Saint Mary College. Denise began her presentation with a description of her library and her role. Mount Saint Mary College was founded almost 55 years ago. It is a small liberal arts college with approximately 1943 full time employees. The library used to be the mother house for the nuns and the Dominican center. The building included dormitory rooms on the upper floors. When the library moved in to the building, the dormitory rooms stayed meaning frequent visits of students in bathrobes. Recently, the library moved to electronic resources because of the demand of information literacy from faculty. The faculty’s response was so positive that the faculty begin to demand more information literacy courses. In fact, the information literacy program became a success.

Denise explained that the library was thrilled to have the support of the faculty at the same time of they wondered how to deal with the success. Denise took a step back to highlight three projects done in the library. These were a reclassification from Dewey Decimal Classification to Library of Congress classification, moving the library to the renovated new space, a the personal librarian project for 1st year experience students. These projects involved everyone in the library. From this experience, Denise began referring to employees as factotum or staff who do all kinds of work. A factotum do a little bit of everything. This is accentuated because the librarians at the Kaplan Family Library are also tenure track. Moreover, there are only 5 librarians, one for access, curriculum, reference, collection development, and technical services. All librarians have a heavy instruction load, must do work that involves processing, and of course work for tenure. The priority of the library is to keep it open and the staff resources are dedicated to doing this. As a result, technical services lost a processing assistant.

The conundrum was how to deal with the same workload and less staff in technical services. The issue was to ensure that processing of materials continued as normally as before. Denise said that they first solution was to hire work study students. Unfortunately, the students were not reliable and often unavailable during intersessions and breaks. The students also found the work boring and preferred to be moved to the circulation desk. It was necessary to look for a different solution with the knowledge that there was no funding to hire. Thinking outside the box wasn’t enough Denise stated. It was time to rethink the box entirely. Thanks to a recent library reorganization, an opportunity presented itself. The night supervisor needed more tasks. Access and technical services began a new collaboration building on the three projects from earlier. To help the night supervisor take on the skill of processing materials, tasks were accessed and procedures developed and redeveloped. Trainings in person and via documents with numerous pictures were used. Communication between both units and the library continued and the training refined. The collaboration was a success. The night supervisor now processing materials as well as supervising the night shift. The advantage of retraining the night supervisor is the person loves the work, isn’t bored, and feels engaged in the library beyond just a title of night supervisor.

Denise concluded that this experienced worked because of team work and a willingness to learn new skills. It is important to question procedures. Developing new skills needs to be offered to all employees. More importantly, it’s necessary to reflect, review while being flexible, receptive, and open.