Wednesday, June 17, 2009


The online course on Technical Services continues and the section I just finished was on Processing.

Like the other sections the description on exactly what happens was pretty brief. However, the emphasis of this section was on examining what you do for processing and justifying each step. I totally agree with this approach.

Too many libraries record information that's not actually used, just because that's the way it's always been done. It's not unusual to see pencilled somewhere on the book an accession number, the date received, from whom/where and/or the price. Is this information ever used? If it is, can it be found anywhere else? Now that many libraries have online acquisitions systems, numbers, dates and prices can be found there. Does a staff person also need to hand write it in the book?

Another archaic practice I sometimes see is ownership information on a "secret page". Just in case someone tears off the library's name from the front of the book, the owner can be identified by going to page 62 (or 87 or some other agreed upon page) and see an additional ownership stamp. In my opinion, for all the time it takes to stamp every book the library owns on an additional specific page, the library could purchase an occasional replacement copy.

An important lesson to take away from the section on Processing: look at each step and have a good reason for doing it. Otherwise, abandon it. There's plenty of other necessary stuff to do.

The instructor also discussed outsourcing. Outsourcing is something to be considered but the library has to be careful. It may mean more compromises than the library is willing to make. However, having your books arrive with jackets already attached, or outsourcing some other very specific task might be worth the cost. If you have an abundance of reliable student workers or pages, I'd jacket in-house.

When it comes to processing library materials, think Faster, Cheaper, Better. You can only have two of them.

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