Thursday, June 25, 2009

Additional Operations (sometimes) in Technical Services

This was the chapter on Other - the stuff that didn't quite deserve its own chapter but still is (or might be) part of Technical Services. Topics were Gifts or donations; Interlibrary loan and/or document delivery operations; Systems management or at least management of the library’s OPAC; Digitization projects.

Gifts, as was rightly pointed out, are a form of Acquisitions. If you wouldn't buy it, you shouldn't accept it as a gift. All gifts must fit into a library's collection development policy. When people donate items to a library, it should be made clear that the library might do something else with the gift. The donor should be given the chance to recind the offer. Gifts (like kittens and Open Source Software) are not free. There are costs to processing and even disposing of gifts.

While the instructors made some good arguments about Interlibrary Loan being a part of Technical Services, I've never seen it structured that way in any library where I've worked. Of course they're related as all library functions are related.

Tech Services staff have often become "accidental" IT staff. I guess a lot of people think "Tech is Tech". But some people have a natural affinity for IT and others do not. It can be very stressful to be responsible for something you're somewhat afraid of (and I speak from a certain amount of experience).

Digitization is another one of those default things like IT. There is definitely a relationship since Digital images need cataloging, too. And Digital images are saved in a catalog which may or may not be the same catalog as the books and other materials.

This chapter did not include a fun game, but there was an assignment to describe how your library is organized and who is responsible for the various Technical Services functions: Acquisitions, Cataloging, Processing, and Collection Maintenance. Here is the description I wrote and posted on Blackboard.

I don’t work in a “real” library, but rather the headquarters of a Regional Library System that provides services, including consulting, to area libraries regardless of type. We have a small professional collection.

The individual consultants (including me) are responsible for collection development in their areas of expertise. We choose the titles and purchase them, usually via Amazon or ALA. There is an overall acquisitions budget monitored by the Assistant Regional Administrator.

When items arrive, they all come to me – the cataloger. We are part of a consortium and the Network headquarters maintains the catalog. I assign call numbers, add our holdings to that catalog and import bib records into it from OCLC if the ones I need are not already there. I will create an original record in OCLC if necessary. I also do all of the processing: property stamp, barcode, spine labels.The individual consultants are responsible for weeding their own areas. Once weeded, I delete our holdings from the Network catalog and OCLC.

Interlibrary Loan and Circulation are handled by a paraprofessional.The director (or in our case the Regional Administrator) occasionally selects and purchases books the same as the other consultants. The business office pays the bills.

We do no repairs; we replace an item if needed, but that seldom happens. We have small back runs of serials, but never bind them. They are rarely used except by the consultants.

We do no digitization, but I am responsible for helping area libraries select items they want digitized and create metadata. The Network headquarters maintains the digital repository and staff there handle the scanning and maintenance of the digital collections.

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