In a previous post I noted some of the progress we’ve made in streamlining activities in our department. I also mentioned that those things alone won’t be enough to free up additional time to move to new & different projects, many of which will be rooted in the digital arena.
Our library leadership group had a discussion concerning reorganization – again. Yes, we need to look at changing – again – and I made several points during our meeting last week, which I barely touched on in that previous post:
- just as we decide collection levels for different types of material (for example, we are big on prairie ecology here (go figure), we need to decide on cataloging levels. Not all materials need the same level of treatment, whether they are manuscript collections that sit unprocessed for years in our special collections or old video tapes of campus lectures. Cataloging staff will need guidance from collection management staff and senior administrators – just as we have collection policies, we’ll need cataloging policies
- some access is better than no access
- 3rd party enhancements to the catalog are a must to get additional information about the books, music, dvds we get rather than spend time doing that cataloging in house (i.e., pull tables of contents, summaries, even select full text where possible)
- assume that current and future national digitization projects will allow for full text search/retrieval of items that we do not have the time to painstakingly add Library of Congress subject headings
- identify what is “good enough” and move on
I don’t recall if, in that meeting, I mentioned “free” and “gift” items. We all know that the big F & G things are not really free. They usually take more time to manage (especially the acquire and provide access to processes) than items we purchase. They have to be labeled, shelved, re-shelved, moved, etc. And free “web” things, while not requiring the physical handling, do require some level of oversight beyond cataloging. Or do they? (That’s a discussion for another post.)
But… here’s a prime example of a potential problem as we do more automated work: one of my catalogers is reviewing imported MARC records for an e-book collection we’ve purchased. She discovered that a large number of the records do not include call numbers. In the past we’ve used access queries to grab call numbers for accreditation reports needed by campus academic departments. If we load these records without call numbers, will we be able to generate the information they need for those reports? What is the solution?