Less control = more opportunity?

I often wonder where our technical services operations sit when compared to other academic libraries. Sometimes I think we are behind the times; other times I think we have done some innovative things. I’ve had bosses or consultants look at me and say “you aren’t doing x yet? why not?” I hear colleagues at other libraries say “wow! you’re doing x? I wish we could do that at my library!”

So I imagine we’re in the middle, which isn’t always bad. We don’t have some of the resources that larger academics or ARLs have. But we can see what the big guys are doing and see what pieces we might adapt. We can let others work out the bugs of the latest-and-greatest before we move in that direction.

So where are we?

  • we’ve been doing shelf-ready for DLC copy on approval plans for quite a few years
    • will implement shelf-ready for member copy on approvals this summer to be followed by firms coming shelf ready perhaps in the fall
  • monograph acq is implementing electronic selection by subject librarians
  • we just started purchasing MARC records for our e-journals so we no longer do the cataloging in-house
  • we’ve had a web front-end “license” database – a homegrown ERM – since 1999. Staff have been able to use it to track progress on the licensing, activation, and cataloging of e-resources; ILS staff use it heavily to determine what & how they lend e- stuff
    • we will implement Verde later this year and anxiously await its connection to Voyager acq – how will that change our workflows?
  • we did a major database clean-up last year (sending about 1.4 million records to Backstage) and now do monthly pulls to maintain a cleaner OPAC
    • this requires high level staff time – will we continue to be able to afford that luxury?
    • would a new front-end interface, for example, Primo, negate the need to do the type of authority control we do now?

As we automate more processes, many folks feel like we’re losing control. Our records are “less perfect”. But we haven’t had control for years, have we? There is no way we can have much control given the huge amounts of materials we receive and process each year. (Wish I could find that article I read a couple of months ago – something like more books, journals, etc., have been published in the last 30-40 years than in the preceding 300 years!)

So will less control provide more opportunity? What kind of opportunities might there be: 1) providing access to our institution’s scholarly output; 2) taking advantage of new technologies that will allow us to provide access to unique collections; 3) learning how to use different tools and systems; 4) publishing; 5) clearer understanding of the library’s role in the academic mission; 6) involvement with electronic records management for the campus; and, 7) collaborative partnerships with academic faculty and recognition of the librarian’s expertise.

Sounds good to me.  When do we start?

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