NASIG 2013: From Print to Online — Revamping Technical Services with Distributed and Centralized Workflow Models

“5D” by Mark Sebastian

Speaker: Kari Schmidt, American University

Began in 2008 after a new director and consultant group came in and recommended a reorganization. They had some trouble deciding which larger group electronic resource management should be a part of, and ended up on Information Delivery Services, which includes Acquisitions, Cataloging, and Access Services. The ERM unit used to include acquisitions, cataloging, and a service point. By moving the cataloging functions out (and closing the service point), the group could then focus on access and discovery systems (eresource management, licensing). During the same time, they also moved a huge chunk of bound journal volumes to storage to create student spaces.

Focused on moving away from redundancy across different systems, and moving towards cloud-based unified knowledgebases that populated all user interfaces.

Most serials are now electronic, and they are increasingly being tasked to acquire new forms of eresources. Needed to change some workflow models to incorporate ebook acquisitions and management, for example. They are now starting to work more with Acquisitions and Cataloging for those workflows. Large data sets will be the next challenge.

Focusing more on discovery access and assessment, which had been on the back burner. This requires shifting more of the workflow out of the unit.

Training and skill building in ERM techniques include: ERM “class” to orient to role in the library, trouble-shooting access issues, e-resource forums for other tech services staff taught by members of the ERM unit, vendor training sessions, cross-training within the unit, annual evaluation of responsibilities to determine what could be delegated to a specialist (make sure they are interested in it and it is appropriate for them to do), project prioritization, and relevant committee service.

Cataloging has been overwhelmed with legacy print projects, so incorporating ERM work has been challenging. Acquisitions staffing has been disproportionately weighted towards print, so moving more of the ebook process in is a solution and a challenge. Training circ/service point staff to handle basic questions about eresource access issues.

They are using CORAL resources module for tracking ebook workflows.

[Would really like to have a session like this focus on examples more than challenges and things they still need to do. I want to know job descriptions/responsibilities and examples of workflows for different resources.]

 

Speaker: Christine Korytnyk Dulaney, American University

Staff didn’t talk to each other about work, so they had to make some changes in communication and give them a broader view of the workflow (i.e. how each thing impacted another). They used some project management techniques to begin this process, and it helped them finish the project where they have a history of not doing so. The fundamental concepts of PM can be scaled down to any kind of project. [The presenter goes into this, but you probably have lots of books in your library that covers it.] One advantage of PM is that it focuses on the work and diffuses the emotion that can come from making changes.

Charleston 2012: EWWW!: Electronic Resources in the 21st Century (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the Catalog and Love the MARC Records Service)

15/52 : Titanic by Eric Constantineau
“15/52 : Titanic” by Eric Constantineau

Speakers: Ladd Brown, Andi Ogier, and Annette Bailey, Virginia Tech

Libraries are not about the collections anymore, they’re about space. The library is a place to connect to the university community. We are aggressively de-selecting, buying digital backfiles in the humanities to clear out the print collections.

Guess what? We still have our legacy workflows. They were built for processing physical items. Then eresources came along, and there were two parallel processes. Ebooks have the potential of becoming a third process.

Along with the legacy workflows, they have a new Dean, who is forward thinking. The Dean says it’s time to rip off the bandaid. (Titanic = old workflow; iceberg = eresources; people in life boats = technical resources team) Strategic plans are living documents kept on top of the desk and not in the drawer.

With all of this in mind, acquisitions leaders began meeting daily in a group called Eresources Workflow Weekly Work, planning the changes they needed to make. They did process mapping with sharpies, post-its, and incorporated everyone in the library that had anything to do with eresources. After lots of meetings, position descriptions began to emerge.

Electronic Resource Supervisor is the title of the former book and serials acquisitions heads. The rest — wasn’t clear from the description.

They had a MARC record service for ejournals, but after this reorganization process, they realized they needed the same for ebooks, and could be handled by the same folks.

Two person teams were formed based on who did what in the former parallel processes, and they reconfigured their workspace to make this more functional. The team cubes are together, and they have open collaboration spaces for other groupings.

They shifted focus from maintaining MARC records in their ILS to maintaining accurate title lists and data in their ERMS. They’re letting the data from the ERMS populate the ILS with appropriate MARC records.

They use some Python scripts to help move data from system to system, and more staff are being trained to support it. They’re also using the Google Apps portal for collaborative projects.

They wanted to take risks, make mistakes, fail quickly, but also see successes come quickly. They needed someplace to start, and to avoid reinventing the wheel, so they borrowed heavily from the work done by colleagues at James Madison University. They also hired Carl Grant as a consultant to ask questions and facilitate cross-departmental work.

Big thing to keep in mind: Administration needs to be prepared to allow staff to spend time learning new processes and not keeping up with everything they used to do at the same time. And, as they let go of the work they used to do, please tell them it was important or they won’t adopt the new work.

dipping my toes into the library administration pool

For the past, oh, five years, I’ve been dead-set against being a manager. When I took this job at the University of Richmond, one of the things that really appealed to me was the reduction in management responsibilities, particularly in light of what I had to do in my last job.

And yet, my coworkers kept putting me in leadership positions, and most of the time I didn’t mind the work as much as I may have let on. As long as I have some clear direction in what needs to be done, I’m pretty good about making sure it happens.

So, when the opportunity arose to be the interim director of my division of the library, I seized it as a chance to get my feet wet with management in a more friendly environment. I like my division, I reasoned, and they seem to get along pretty well. This won’t be too bad.

My friends, it’s one thing to serve on library-wide committees, but managing personnel is an entirely different set of challenges. Throw in the stress of a massive renovation that required temporary relocation of most of the staff for the summer, and you’ve got quite a bit to keep a handle on.

So far I’m two and half months in, and everyone is still alive. I’ll be doing my best to keep it that way, but if I’ve learned anything from this experience it’s that I’m not quite ready to be In Charge. So, I’ll be continuing to figure out how to be a Leader in my library without being the Boss.

ER&L 2012 reflections

Texas treeTwo and a half days is just not enough time spent with my tribe. I could have gone all week. I’m not ready to go back to the real world.

This was my third Electronic Resources & Libraries conference, and I’ve been lucky to get to know a few more ER librarians every year. This year was particularly notable, as I was able to spend quite a bit of time talking with peers that I highly respect and look to as inspirations for my own work (Jamene Brooks-Kieffer and Marie Kennedy, just to name two). I did my best to keep it cool and not go fangirl all over them.

Most of the sessions I attended were solid, informative, and often inspiring in their own right. I’m still working through the project list generated last year, and now I have more to add or enhance what’s already there.

I plan to look into:

  • JTac software for acquisitions workflow
  • CORAL for ER workflow, but maybe not for ERMS, if that’s possible
  • MISO software for ingesting SUSHI (since my ERMS is only just starting to look at developing SUSHI ingestion)
  • Documenting ER workflows and procedures — I have been intimidated by this, since I’ll be starting from scratch and don’t know where to begin. I realized this week that I could use TERMS as a jumping off point.
  • Include a feedback form for each trial we do, rather than just relying on free-form email messages
  • Seeing about modifying the workflow for eDDA titles so that liaisons can move them to firm orders before the records are loaded in the catalog
  • Also, investigating options for pDDA for slip orders
  • Joining a relevant NISO working group, if anything comes up (Marie suggested we do this, and I’ve been interested for a while)
  • Being a leader in my library without being higher up in management or at least not beyond where I’m comfortable

There were a few sessions that left me wanting. For one, I keep trying to glean some insight into better ways of managing ER workflows, but our staff is so small and the people who tend to present on the topic come from libraries so large that it’s hard to see where the connections or benefits may be. I am still thinking about how to set up something that would trigger notifications of next steps, even if most of them would end up coming to me. My paper checklist form is okay, but it only works if I remember to do it and to check up on it.

Another session I attended was supposed to be all about a tech services department reorganization with an eye towards eresource trends. However, it seems that the presenter expected more results by now than what he was able to talk about, so most of the session beyond the introduction was about what should be happening rather than what has been happening. I think that it’s difficult to know six months in advance if your new project will be at a place worth sharing, but maybe conferences need to shift more of those kinds of topics to short sessions like the lightening talks, rather than risk the session being a dud because there aren’t enough relevant outcomes to share.

ER&L 2013 will be in Austin again next year, and shortly following the SXSWi conference. They hope to have some connections between the two, so if you’ve been on the fence about attending, that may be the year to take the plunge.

ER&L 2012: Leading From the Top, Bottom, & Middle — Owning Your Library Leadership

Can I get a hell yeah?
mmm-hmm!

Speakers: Bonnie Tijerina, Karen G. Schneider, & Char Booth
Facilitator: Jill Emery

There are many different kinds of leadership. Everyone here has the potential to be a leader. They asked for words that mean leadership for the attendees, and some highlights from the wordle are vision, communication, decisive, innovative, confident, and inspiring.

What is your word for leadership?

CB: Clarity is most important to me in this field and others.

BT: Integrity — it’s hard to go with your true beliefs when they go against other pressures.

KGS: Changed word after hearing other responses. Optimism, because if you don’t believe you’re going to succeed, who else would. Also, faith. Hope to be able to talk about case studies, because she has four from libraryland in mind.

BT: Visionary is interesting. Sometimes you have to be a leader by going in a direction and having faith that it’s going to work out, not by knowing that it will.

What are your reactions to the words we chose, and what stands out?

KGS: Patience and impatience are missing. You need a balance of both to lead.

CB: Impressed by how many words were in reference to other people, like inspiring and motivating.

BT: Most exciting are communication and listening.

CB: Curious if these were generated by example or anti-example?

Why do you do so much work outside of your day jobs?

BT: When I see a problem that needs a solution, I think all it needs is some work done to make it happen, which is how ER&L got started. Attended an ACRL session about ER librarians in 2005 and saw a need for bigger discussion.

CB: What libraries do is critical. We have a calling.

KGS: Most significant work was in the late 90s on internet filtering issues. It was a natural extension of my calling that didn’t end when I walked out the door of my library at the end of the day. It’s part of the fabric of who I am as a librarian and a person.

Where do you think leadership is needed in librarianship today?

KGS: Everywhere. Many people are leaders at levels that are not well recognized. They’re not the shiny bloggers or people getting gold stars for things. People are doing equally important things at the local level.

CB: No matter where you work or what you do, it’s critical to step up and do the things that need to be done. What are you going to do about it?

KGS: And cultivating leadership with the people you work with.

BT: I’ve seen some examples of informal meetups of groups at ER&L that needed to get together. I see leadership happening all over the place.

How do you motivate or inspire others?

CB: Make people not scared of their own enthusiasm. Let it feed what you do.

BT: I leave Char’s presentations feeling inspired, and I try to think about what it is that she does. Think about why we are librarians and what we’re doing? We have a calling. Get at the core of why we are here, and that motivates people. You can get caught up in the spreadsheets and the things that don’t work, but continue to be mindful of why you are here.

KGS: You constantly have to remind people of their own excellence and capabilities, and thank them for their work. Communication is key. It’s not enough to have good ideas if you can’t do that. EJ Josey is one library leader that comes to mind, and in the 1960s was crucial for the desegregation of the state library associations. Marvin Skilkin (unabashed librarian), as a young library director, found out that publishers were doing price fixing. His testimony at hearings lead to the steep discounts that libraries still receive for print publications.

BT: When I was working on ER&L, I was two years out of library school. Told two leaders at Georgia Tech about it, and one was excited and supportive. The second leader thought she was crazy for trying to do it. However, having been motivated by the two different types of leaders, she thinks the more critical person was more of a motivator. Maybe challenging people to think through ideas is a good reality check for a leader.

CB: Does anyone else have issues with the word leadership? There’s an arrogance in there. There’s a chance of the followers not acting because the leader will do it.

BT: Char & Karen were uncomfortable with being invited to speak on a leadership panel. We need to own that. We need to be comfortable as librarians to think of ourselves as leaders when we’re doing leadership.

KGS: You can’t be wishy-washy. You have to claim it?

BT: Does anyone in the audience have questions, or see a need for leaders in the field?

A: What would you call leadership if you didn’t call it leadership?

CB: I have this image of leadership as a paternalistic figurehead. What does it mean to you? Maybe we should just try to model it.

KGS: Leadership from behind and leadership from the front — we have to balance both.

BT: Adjust our definition of leadership.

KGS: I have a public persona that is not really me, and that makes me uncomfortable. The one behind the scenes is the one with the leadership qualities, not necessarily the one everyone sees.

A: Embrace your inner leadership. I see it as starting from the bottom. What is your favorite curse word?

BT: I can’t say that.

CB: Hell & damn.

KGS: I was in the air force — everything I have is not safe for work.

A: One thing I don’t see in all the words is popular.

KGS: Words related to inspire and inspiration lead to the popular thing.

A: Keep focused on the user. Don’t worry about the job title they give you. Don’t worry about faculty/non-faculty.

BT: Motivate by reminding our selves why we’re.

CB: In the day-to-day, people can get dragged down. We need to yank them up.

KGS: Optimism is a discipline.

CB: We learn these behaviors by modeling our influencers. Thanks, Mom.

BT: Leadership is intentional.

A: Be realistic about limits. Librarians have a tendency to take on too much.

BT: I’ve heard that.

KGS: Picking and choosing your battles is important. Aging has taught me my limits. We have to pace ourselves for the long haul. No is not the same as not now.

A: Why aren’t we seeing more of this in our profession? I’m in my 27th year of librarianship. I love the optimism, but I’m so tired. Is it something about our profession? I use the words mentor or supportive colleague more than leader.

A: The Library Society of the World on FriendFeed was having a discussion of why we don’t talk more about our failures.

KGS: I have failed, but I don’t like to.

[Stopped taking notes to get in line to respond that leadership and management should not always be the same thing — we need to restructure our decision making roles in libraries to recognize leadership outside of management roles.]