It is the purpose of this column to collect and disseminate information on all aspects of cataloging and classification. I would like to include news concerning you, your research efforts, and your organization; in fact, it would be desirable to expand coverage to include information about cataloging activities all over the world. Thus, this column is not just intended for news items, but serves to document discussions of interest to the cataloging community at this challenging and changing time in our professional lives. Please send any pertinent materials, notes, minutes, reports to: Elizabeth N. Steinhagen, Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131-1466, e-mail: email@example.com. Phone: 505-277-5176. Also, visit our CCQ home page at: http://catalogingandclassificationquarterly.com
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The following reports were contributed from the AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION Midwinter Meeting, New Orleans, LA, January 1998
ALCTS Creative Ideas in Technical Services Discussion Group, January 11, 1998.
At this session, one of the sections dealt with the merging of acquisitions and copy cataloging processes. Of ten persons participating in this discussion, the majority had done some type of merging of the two technical services components, and the others were in the "considering," or planning stages.
The following five questions were to be guidelines for discussion:
1. Has your institution merged acquisitions and copy cataloging processes?
2. What factors drive the decision to merge acquisitions and copy cataloging processes?
3. How are specific staff responsibilities affected in a reorganized technical services environment?
4. What role does outsourcing of cataloging (such as vendor supplied cataloging and physical processing) play in the decision to merge functions? 5. How do managers facilitate an easy adjustment to a wider variety of tasks without diminishing the merit or work performed under the previous structure?
As happens frequently with discussions of this type, not all five questions were addressed individually, but they were all brought up within the context of a lively interchange of information.
When summing up at the end of the hour, the most important factors for a proposed merger were identified. Among these were planing and communication with all affected staff, considered extremely important, with far-reaching effects. Staff feels justifiably excluded when management hands down decisions as 'faits accomplis.' A manager must value staff's input, as they are the ones doing the day-to-day work, while at the same time the manager must be aware that some people feel their suggestions were not given enough attention because they have not been implemented. Another factor considered is to have good reasons for change and clear explanations of them; yet another is to state the goals and tasks not in terms of quotas, but as improvements in the overall success of the library's mission.
Other factors cited were to allow enough time for additional training required by changes in workflow and new responsibilities. Staff may deem upgrades of positions in order, but their tasks may only have increased in number, not in complexity. In addition, cooperation between acquisitions and cataloging sections becomes more important with the blurring of boundaries and shifting of activities. In many places, catalogers take on ordering, creating the initial records by
either downloading from OCLC, or keying in, receiving shipments and checking accompanying invoices, cataloging on receipt, handling of invoices, and following the book from order to placing it on the shelf. Acquisitions staff must retrain to become catalogers and follow the minutiae of rules and local practices governing copy cataloging and authority work. Staff may be reluctant to share knowledge, feeling that it will take away some of their turf of knowing how to do something. Again, keeping the overall good of the library as the final goal should help in this regard.
As manager of this reorganization, the head must build on the strengths of the staff. Acquisitions staff who teach copy catalogers ordering and receiving will build on the catalogers, knowledge of correct bibliographic records to download or create. In turn, acquisitions people who learn the intricacies of cataloging will build on the knowledge they already had in the past, so they can choose, or create bibliographic and item records. often the right people will volunteer and be very open to changes and additional responsibilities, they welcome the challenges provided sometimes they can be put in charge of overseeing one part of the new arrangement. If possible, changes must be implemented incrementally, and evaluated as the process goes along.
Some participants of the round table mentioned their use of vendor supplied cataloging and processing. In these cases, managers must be prepared for staff fears that jobs will be downgraded or made redundant. Depending on the backlog and other projects that went undone before, it can be pointed out that staff now should have more time to deal with more difficult materials, for which their expertise is especially needed.
During the one hour meeting, many topics were touched upon and as a summary--although some participants had used various approaches to merging both departments--the major points that had been brought up were those of communication with, and input from all affected staff; enough time for planning; incremental implementation; follow-up evaluation of the process; and last but not least, not being afraid to say "this does not work, let's try a different way!"
Margit J. Smith
University of San Diego
ALA Outsourcing Task Force meeting, January 10, and January 12, 1998.
The meeting began with introductions of Task force members and a review of the charge for the group. This included among others, the following assignment:
- To advise ALA on issues relating to outsourcing, subcontracting, and privatization of library services;
- To gather data and examine the literature on these issues and to evaluate the impact on library services and operations;
- To examine past ALA positions and how these issues relate to the ALA Code of Etis and other policies of the association;
- To provide an opportunity for general membership discussion at the 1998 conference;
- To provide Council with a comprehensive report with recommendations, at Midwinter 1999.
The general issues for discussion were:
- Use of common definitions for the terms 'outsourcing', 'contracting out,' and 'privatization';
- What other past ALA policy discussions are relevant to this discussion?
- What are the ethical principles that drive the discussion on outsourcing?
- What do librarians uniquely do that cannot be outsourced?
- How do we establish 'public good, vs. 'private interests'?
There followed some informal presentations, on outsourcing for disaster recovery, on federal libraries, on services of independent librarians, and book vendor services. Following those, there was a presentation on the outsourcing experience of the Hawaii library system and the lessons learned from it. According to Pat Wallace, Chair of the SSRT Hawaii Working Group, no money was actually saved because of sloppy oversight and close to $800,000 paid up front to the vendor--Baker and Taylor--to set up the project.
Lessons learned from this fiasco can be summarized as follows:
- Outsourcing as conceived in the corporate business world was not intended to be applied to "core services" but just to peripheral services;
- It is a misuse of tax funds to give profit-making organizations the supervision of a basic library function;
- Even if the contract is held up in court, there is a need to reserve some funds for acquiring specialized materials.
The last of the informal presentations, by Sheila S. Intner, was a historical overview of outsourcing. This process has been used throughout the 20th century to provide functions of libraries. She said that generally, outsourcing is accompanied by downsizing of staff and by reorganization and there are correlations with the growth of technology. Some discussion by other Task Force members followed her presentation, with some asserting that outsourcing is a manifestation of changes that are taking place at all levels and that institutions are making decisions in terms of their own needs without taking into account the general good of the profession.
General discussion followed on the issues of the role of libraries, role of librarians, library cooperation with concerns about outsourced cataloging that does not make into national databases or that is not available to vendors, the public good vs. private interests and commercialization, theisolation of contracts librarians, loss of local control, hidden costs of outsourcing, ALA's role, impact on local staff and job security and morale issues, evaluation of vendor performance and the issue of whether we are perhaps outsourcing cataloger training to vendors.
The second session also included informal presentations on services provided to libraries of a multi-type library system, on the use OCLC services (TechPro and PromptCat), on the role of ALA Professional Ethics Committee, and on criteria for automation outsourcing.
Toward the end of the session, Task Force members suggested a variety of ways to proceed. First, a draft document is to be prepared, following a open forum at the next annual conference during which the membership is expected to provide input. Also, several listservs were suggested to obtain comments on a number of questions and stamentements, as well as American Libraries for those who have no access to the Internet.
Some of the issues that will need to be discussed and defined for the draft document are:
- Rationale for outsourcing;
- Role of libraries;
- Role of librarians;
Intellectual freedom and moral action; Human resources impact; Public good vs. private interests; Contracts for outsourcing; Diversity and general
Each of these major points has a considerable number of underlying specific concerns and the Task Force members volunteered to prepare brief draft papers on these groups for further discussion and definition.
State University of NY at Buffalo
(Summarized by: Elizabeth Steinhagen, University of New Mexico; Complete text of report is available through Autocat archives)
At the 1997 ALA Annual Converence, MARBI approved Proposal 97-3R
(Redefinition of Code "m" (Computer file) in Leader/06, with some modifications. The changes to the USMARC Format for Bibliographic Data are published in Update no. 3 which is now available.
OCLC has been further investigating implementation issues related to this MARBI update. We have had discussions with staff from various local systems and consortia. Conversations with representatives of these different systems indicate there are a number of implementation issues to be ironed out. As a result, we have decided to update the OCLC membership on our immediate plans, highlight some of the issues, and recommend areas libraries might want to discuss with their system vendors and with members of their consortia.
There is a large amount of interest within the library community in implementing the MARC format changes as soon as possible. OCLC has received a number of user phone calls and email considering these change.s Even though OCLC is investigating implementation issues, actual implementation is some time off. Update 3 is only recently available to everyone who needs to implement the changes. Update 3 contains a number of substantial changes, especially those related to harmonizing the USMARC and CANMARC formats.
MARBI CHANGES: In summary, MARBI approved two changes. The first is to the definition of code "m", (Computer files) Leader/06 (Type of record). Only certain kinds of computer files and electronic resources will be coded as "m". Others will be coded for their most significant aspect, e.g., cartographic materials will be coded "e", textual monographic materials will be coded as books, etc. The present rule to code all electronic resources as computer files (Leader/06 "m") will be obsolete. The same change is made to 006/00.
The second change MARBI approved is to make field 007 mandatory when the main item described in a record has a carrier that is a computer file. Field 006 is still optional in all situations. Field007 is not mandatory when only the accompanying material is a computer file or it the record describes a non-electronic resource and points to its electronic version in an 856 field. This las situation requires changes to field 856 that were approved at the February 1997 MARBI meeting (Proposal 97-1) which will also be described in Update no. 3. In order to implement the changes, systems must support 007 input and output, at least for the computer files version of field 007.
Impact on cataloging: Except for changes to searching discussed later in this document and the need to know field 007 for computer files and when to use it, the impact on most catalogers is minimal. These USMARC fields continue to divorce the format issues from the cataloging rules by separating carrier from content, but only for elecytronic resources. other materials have not been completely addressed. A broader discussion of content vs. carrier in respect to the cataloging rules was held at the JSC International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR in Toronto in October 1997. Further investigations will come out of the discussions at the conference.
Conversion of existing records; Existing records will not be coded the same way as new records will be. For most systems, conversion of old practices is not practical or possible with existing resources. In some files, records may not be coded accurately enough to identify records that are candidates for conversion. OCLC estimates that at least one quarter of the computer file records in WorldCat are coded "other" or "unknown" in 008/26 (Type of computer file); 008/26 is the easiest means by which to identify records that are candidates for conversion.
Indexing: In order to index all electronic resources together, systems must be able to identify them. An electronic resource can be identified by Leader/06 (type of record), field 007, or field 006 (when byte 0 is "m"). All three items must be indexed in the same index becuase users for materials are not likely to know how the record is coded. The distinctions are unimportant to them. Fields 006 and 007 can refer to the carrier of the item or the carrier for a piece of the overall item (such as accompanying material). What this means is that systems must either change indexing rules or not index the electronic aspect of an item wherever the "electronic-ness" is recorded in a record. Decisions about which 007s to index and which index to put them in must be made. Presently, in OCLC, fields 006 and Leader/06 are indexed in the same index. OCLC does not index field 007.
Duplicate detection: Duplicate detection will continue to be easy in some systems, particularly those that acquire records from a single source. For others, however, duplicate detection software which compares data from various places in MARC records may need modification to ensure that fields 007 and 856 are correctly considered. This is true not only in those cases in which the goal is to keep records for different media separate but also when the goal is to treat them as a single record. Aspects of fields 007 and 856 may need to be factored into matching algorithms, if they aren't already.
- Duplicate resolution: Once duplicates are identified, some action is generally required. Among the more common options are to update holdings information, to merge selected bibliographic data from one record to the other, to completely overlay one record with the other, or to merge the records and retain all unique data. All of these scenarios have different implications when merging records for disparate media or records which describe multiple media. Software developers and consortia need to address questions like--Should the record for the hard copy be kept separate from the one for the electronic copy? Should the record that combines the information about the hard copy and the electronic resource replace the other two? How will the system indicate which form or forms each location has access to?
- Holdings and location information: The amount of holdings information stored and displayed in union catalogs varies widely from the most simple (location identifier only) to full details,including bar code and availability information. when the holdings display is able to distinguish items (or parts of items) in electronic form from other forms, system users can identify the copy they are interested in. Users of databases that do not display detailed holdings data (such as WorldCat), users will be unable to determine which location has access to electronic resources and which to the non-electronic form. Service to users may suffer from misdirected lending requests or delays to electronic resources.
Because of our concerns, LC will be issuing MARBI proposal 98-6
(Definition of values for electronic in 008/29 (Form of item) in Maps and Visual Materials and 008/23 (Form of item in Books, Music, Serials and Mixed Materials in the bibliographic format) for discussion at ALA Midwinter 1998.
MARBI proposal 97-3R is available through the USMARC home page at gopher://marvel.loc.gov:70/00/.listarch/usmarc/97-3r.doc
The results of the MARBI decision are available at
Rich Greene OCLC 1998.