Volume 48, no. 6/7, 2010


21st Century Metadata Operations: Challenges, Opportunities, Directions


Bradford Lee Eden, Ph.D.
Associate University Librarian for Technical Services & Scholarly Communication
University of California, Santa Barbara

Guest Editor

Introduction, Bradford Lee Eden


Agile Cataloging: Staffing and Skills for a Bibliographic Future
Anne M. Mitchell, J. Michael Thompson, and Annie Wu

ABSTRACT: One of the foremost challenges facing technical services in academic libraries is integrating digital resources and services with existing work without a concomitant personnel expansion. The library's bibliographic data are manipulated and delivered through myriad systems and services, including proxy servers, electronic resource management systems, federated search and link resolver tools, integrated library systems, bibliographic utilities, and dozens of external data providers. In this increasingly complex environment, libraries require flexible data management and flexible staffing, which in turn relies on a reservoir of informed staff and managers who understand the many pieces of the technical services puzzle. This article discusses efforts at the University of Houston Libraries, a mid-size research library, to enhance organizational capacity for evolving cataloging roles and to foster organizational relationships that support progress in technical services functions.


Sharing Cataloging Expertise: Options for Libraries to Share their Skilled Catalogers with Other Libraries
Magda El-Sherbini

ABSTRACT: Library cooperation is a flexible concept that involves practically all aspects of library technical operations. Until recently, areas of cooperation have included mostly interlibrary borrowing and the union catalogs. Materials processing remains a domain of each individual library that maintains its own experts and uniquely skilled staff to process their own materials. This study raises the question of whether libraries can also share their cataloging expertise with other institutions. The five models presented here will demonstrate how libraries can leverage existing library expertise and reduce duplication of efforts, while at the same time enhancing cooperation among libraries and maintaining high cataloging standards that are a must in the new technology era.


Integrating Metadata Creation into Catalog Workflow
Maura Valentino

ABSTRACT: The University of Oklahoma Libraries recently undertook a project designed to integrate digital library metadata creation into the workflow of the Cataloging Department. This paper examines the conditions and factors that led to the project's genesis, the proposed and revised workflows that were developed, the staff training efforts that accompanied implementation of the project, and the results and benefits obtained through the project's implementation. The project presented several challenges but resulted in an improved workflow, greater use of Cataloging Department resources, and more accurate and useful metadata while increasing the Library's capacity to support digitization efforts in a timely fashion.


The Expansion of Cataloging to Cover the Digital Object Landscape
John J. Riemer

ABSTRACT: How a traditional cataloging unit should systematically go about attaining significant involvement in the bibliographic control of digital resources is one of the prime challenges currently facing cataloging managers. The author reviews why a cataloging unit should want to take on this new role, what the benefits are, the various types of involvement, how to prepare, the less obvious but important aspects of training, and the nature of organizational and workflow changes needed to free up time and resources for the new work. The author presents personal experiences from two different institutions as a case study.

KEYWORDS: Cataloging; Metadata; Cataloger Roles; Digital Resources; Digital Library Projects; Reorganization; Case Studies


Re-Visioning Technical Services: A Unique Opportunity to Examine the Past, Access the Present, and Create a Better Future
Jennifer Leffler and Pamela Newberg

ABSTRACT: The unexpected resignation of a Technical Services co-manager allowed a unique opportunity for examining and re-visioning all workflows and staffing in a centralized Technical Services department serving the two libraries of the University of Northern Colorado. The past, present and future of Technical Services, including the growing importance of electronic resources, was researched both within the institution and its peer institutions by a task force. Polling staff and faculty and thinking out of the box helped lead to an organizational model based on timelines rather than materials formats.


Using the Balanced Scorecard for Strategic Operation of Cataloging Department
Kim, Dong Suk

ABSTRACT: The objective of this study is to analyze outsourcing from various perspectives and establish a strategy for turning crises into opportunities based on the mission and vision of Hanyang University Library's material organization department. Accordingly, the author re-examined the balanced scorecard (BSC) technique for the cataloging department rather than the entire library. BSC has allowed Hanyang University Library to establish their current position on outsourcing to steer the library toward an ideal direction, and has also enabled the author to implement strategies for creating a proactive department that can adapt to the changing trends in cataloging. Accordingly, this study examines the BSC not as a means of improving outputs and evaluating performance, but as a guideline for achieving the future vision of the cataloging department.

KEYWORDS: Cataloging outsourcing, Balanced scorecard, BSC, Library administration


Relevance Recognized: Value-Added Cataloging for Departmental and Digital Collections
Anne Marie Taber and Mary Jane Conger

ABSTRACT: A medium-sized academic library's cataloging department describes the strategies employed when requests for materials-cataloging services from university departments outside the library, followed by the initiation of an Institutional Repository (IR) project, brought opportunities to redefine its perceived role. A service-oriented mindset facilitated the creative repurposing of staff, students, and skills in order to integrate these new formats and processes (both physical and digital) into departmental workflows. Cataloging staff rose to the challenges, gaining satisfaction with new skills learned and a sense of accomplishment at creating order from chaos.

KEYWORDS: Academic libraries, Cataloging, Service, Value, Staff, Repurposing, Institutional repositories, Digital, Departments, Workflows.


What's in a Name?
Pat Headlee, Sandra Lahtinen, and Julie Swann

ABSTRACT: In 2007 the Bibliographic Services Department of the Cline Library absorbed Document Delivery Services and Reserves, two areas traditionally associated with library services, and was renamed Content, Access and Delivery Services (CADS). The name change represented a major shift in how these units do business. Changing technology, shrinking budgets, and fewer human resources had created the need to find new ways to make relevant content accessible in a timely manner. This article examines how the Library was able to successfully meet these challenges by cross-training staff to contribute to services and projects across the library, by creating purchase-on-demand processes that meet or beat document delivery turnaround times and add relevant content to the collection, and by repositioning resources to sustain the ability to meet the changing research needs of library users. The department formerly known as Bibliographic Services has redefined how success is measured, and the focus has shifted from process to service.

KEYWORDS: Cross training, User-centered purchasing, Project management


Integrating Enhance and NACO Work into Pre-Professional Experiences: a Successful Strategy for All
Peter H. Lisius, Margaret Beecher Maurer, Sevim McCutcheon, and Jacob Schaub

ABSTRACT: In a time where both library budgets and personnel are shrinking, pre-professionals can contribute and improve cataloging in the OCLC WorldCat database, provided they are well trained and supervised. Thus their contributions benefit everyone, not just local catalog users. They may also be fully integrated into the OCLC Regular Enhance program and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) Name Authority Cooperative Program (NACO) workflows. This article focuses on how pre-professionals are managed in technical services at Kent State University Libraries. The article includes contributions from the perspective of management, expert cataloger-trainers, and a graduate student, and aims to provide professional catalogers with the tools to successfully establish programs for pre-professionals.


The Cello Music Cataloger as Program Builder
Mac Nelson

ABSTRACT: This article examines how one position at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has evolved into a technical services, public services, and program builder position all wrapped into one person.



Bradford Lee Eden, Ph.D.
University of California, Santa Barbara

It has long been apparent to academic library administrators that the current technical services operations within libraries needs to be redirected and refocused, in terms of both format priorities and human resources. A number of developments and directions have made this reorganization imperative:

  • While purchased print resources will continue into the future, there will be less of them due to the availability and popularity of online and electronic resources that contain either exact or similar content.
  • Every library purchases the same "stuff." It is our special collections, our unique materials that no one else owns and for which there is little if any access either physically or bibliographically, that holds the key to survival for libraries into the future.
  • Our current human resources in technical services have focused for too long on purchased print resources as the priority content; libraries need to redirect their scarce resources towards the organization and description of the unique information that each library holds in their special collections and archives, information that is not held anywhere else in the world.
  • New directions in libraries, in the areas of metadata, digitization, and digital projects, hold the key to broader collaboration and cooperation in academia with faculty and students, as they struggle with challenges regarding access, curricula, information organization and description, and digital preservation of their created content.
  • In the current economic and budget crises, libraries can no longer hire the needed expertise and talent to move forward into these new initiatives, at least not as broadly as they could have five years ago. They must retool and retrain current staff to assist in these initiatives, and make strategic decisions regarding what processes and workflows will no longer be maintained or supported. Technical services staff are uniquely qualified, with their attention to detail and work in metadata standards, to assist libraries as scanning and metadata technicians to digitize and describe objects in the digital environment.
  • Our legacy and proprietary integrated library systems (ILSs) cost too much and don't do what we want them to do; open source and Web 2.0 technologies are now advanced enough that, working in consortial and cooperative models, libraries can use combined human resources (especially in the network and programmer areas) to move, manipulate, inventory, purchase, archive/preserve, and provide access to their metadata and digital content in a much more consistent and efficient manner for their patrons, using different cost models and throughputs that are more efficient and cost-effective in the long run, while providing much more user-friendly and interactive search and discovery interfaces.
  • Finally, it is through the retooling, retraining, and re-engineering of technical services staff and their skills from the analog/print world into the digital world (digitization, digital projects, metadata, etc.) that libraries have a chance to become players in the growing commercialization of accessibility in the information marketplace.

All of this does not take into account the shifting and ever-changing environments surrounding scholarly publishing, open access, social networking, our loss of market share in the information universe, declining state funding of higher education, the effect that the Google book digitization database will have on collection budgets and digital accessibility to print resources, how the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) will affect libraries' roles in the research and preservation/access process of government grants, etc., etc. Or the fact that libraries need to move into the roles of marketing and outreach.

Overall, there are a number of reports that every librarian should read and digest. The first is No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research Libraries for the 21st Century (http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub142/pub142.pdf ); Anne Kenney's Approaching an Entity Crisis: Reconceiving Research Libraries in a Multi-Institutional Context, which is a response to the previous report (http://www.oclc.org/research/dss/ppt/dss_kenney.pdf ); Diane Harley et al., Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines (http://escholarship.org/uc/cshe_fsc ); and the University of Minnesota's Multidimensional Framework for Academic Support (http://www1.lib.umn.edu/about/mellon/docs.phtml ). Two recent articles are also worthy of reading and discussion: "Toward a new Alexandria: imagining the future of libraries" The New Republic March 12, 2010 (http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/toward-new-alexandria ) and "Gutenberg 2.0: Harvard's libraries deal with disruptive change" Harvard Magazine May/June 2010 (http://bit.ly/c4m1cy).

One might also want to peruse my contributions to the literature concerning this topic, including "Ending the status quo." American Libraries March 2008 (39:3), p. 38; and "The new user environment: the end of technical services?" Information Technology and Libraries June 2010 (29:2), p. 94-101. As I speak, I have been asked to chair a task force within the University of California (UC) Libraries' Next Generation Technical Services (NGTS) initiative, charged to develop an operational infrastructure and technical services that can function at an enterprise level (i.e. system-wide) in support of efficient, non-redundant, and collaborative collection services. The charge is:

… to develop scenarios for enterprise-level collection management services that would support collaborative life-cycle management services for the collective information resources of the UC Libraries.  The focus is on acquisition of information resources in all forms and the associated organization of meta-information that enables access by the end user.  However, be sure to maintain a broad and holistic perspective that recognizes the role of these services is support of overall collection services including selection, management, archiving, and preservation.

    Propose new approaches to technical services processes:
  • that support total life-cycle curation for all materials in all UC library collections including special collections and digital materials
  • that build upon existing successful system-wide collaborations and that use those successes as models for new collaborations
  • that increase access to more materials and that eliminate backlogs and hidden collections
  • that provide timely and effective access for the end user
  • that cost less than existing processes
    Compare multiple strategies such as:
  • decentralized---essentially what we have now but with changes to significantly reduce costs and increase outputs
  • centralized---all processing done in a single location
  • regionalized---processing done at two locations, one in the north an one in the south
  • hybrid---some tasks at a single location, e.g., additional operations similar to the Shared Cataloging Program
    Compare the costs and outputs of each strategy with those for the existing UC technical services operations, including:
  • benefits
  • obstacles (technical , legal, financial, logistical, service, and HR)
  • cost analysis including savings, transition costs
  • impact on end user
    Recommend which strategy or multiple strategies should be implemented and for what reason.

A daunting task, to be sure! There are currently two other task groups moving forward on similar fronts, one on improving the financial infrastructure among the UC Libraries, the other on new modes for organizing and providing access to special collections, archives, and digital formats. A deadline of July 31, 2010 for a final report has initially been given to each of these three task groups by the NGTS Executive Team. These are exciting and long-overdue directions for the UC Libraries, and I am sure for many others as well.

Which brings us to the topic of this special issue. All of the articles detail some aspect of technical services reorganization due to downsizing and/or reallocation of human resources, retooling professional and support staff in higher level duties and/or non-MARC metadata, "value-added" metadata opportunities, outsourcing redundant activities, and shifting resources from analog to digital object organization and description. One article specifically discusses the concept of broader cooperative/collaborative sharing of technical services expertise and personnel locally and regionally, while one article details a "one person does it all" librarian arrangement that has developed and blossomed at one institution. The first article by Mitchell et. al examines evolving cataloging roles from a manager's perspective at the University of Houston Libraries. Concepts such as open access, patron-driven acquisitions, batch cataloging, and locally-curated digital content are discussed, as well as ending the segregation between "cataloging" and "metadata." The next article by El-Sherbini presents a number of models for sharing cataloging expertise, including the idea of centers of excellence, and the new initiative among OhioLINK libraries called CollaboraTeS. Valentino then details how the University of Oklahoma Libraries integrated digital library metadata creation into the workflow of the Cataloging Department. John Riemer discusses his philosophy of expanding cataloging department personnel into the digital arena through his experiences at the University of Georgia and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). A re-visioning process for technical services workflows at the University of Northern Colorado is detailed by Leffler and Newberg in their contribution, followed by an interesting application of the balanced scorecard (BSC) technique for re-engineering the cataloging department at Hanyang University Library in Seoul, South Korea. Taber and Conger focus on "value-added" cataloging outside of normal library operations, by developing consultation services and assisting the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with their institutional repository. Cross-training of staff in various services and projects throughout the library at Northern Arizona University is described by Pat Headlee et al. Providing extensive training for library technical services support staff in Enhance and NACO work at Kent State University is described by Lisius et al., with perspectives from management, expert cataloger-trainers, and a graduate student. Finally, the merging of technical and public services roles into one librarian position, namely the Cello Music Cataloger at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, are detailed by the current librarian in that position, and how his strengths, talents, and connections assist him in bringing monies and resources into his library.

The editor hopes that these contributions to the literature will assist both catalogers and library administrators with concrete examples of moving technical services operations and personnel from the analog to the digital environment.

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