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ALCTS Directors of Technical Services in Large Research Libraries


Friday, January 14, 2000
San Antonio, Holiday Inn Riverwalk (HIR)
Tarantella 2-4
9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Recorded by Judith Hopkins, University at Buffalo

For the text of the Round Robin on issues of concern to these institutions, which was distributed via the Big Heads electronic discussion list in the weeks prior to the San Antonio, TX meeting see


Part 1: Information items, approximately 1 hour:

1.     Introduction -- welcomes, good-byes, housekeeping
(Nadler/Kaplan) 10 minutes

2.     LC ILS implementation -- impact on us
(Wiggins) 10 minutes

3.     Pinyin update -- are we informed? are we prepared? potential problems?
(Wiggins/Leighton/Nadler/others) 10 minutes

4.     CORC update and our experience with CORC
(Kellar/Patton) and the group 10 minutes

5.     Cost study update
(Boissonnas) 10 minutes

6.     Managing electronic acquisitions
(Arenales, others) 10 minutes


Part 2: Discussion item: "Technical Services in the new Millennium"

What can we learn from the recent past and what are relevant trends, policies, and practices in colleague institutions that can inform our planning for the immediate future" (Approximately one hour).

7.     What was the impact of the budget cuts of the 90s on Technical Services: rebuilding? rethinking? changes in attitude, priorities and standards?
(Leighton/the group) 15 minutes

8.     Are there new types of work emerging in technical services? Are we approaching our work differently today?

A.    Are there major new initiatives?

B.    Has any of the old work gone away?

(Kaplan/the group) 15 minutes

9.     Are there new staffing patterns and organizations in technical services departments?
(Tierney/the group) 15 minutes

10. How equipped are we to enter the new millennium? What are our greatest challenges? How do we plan to meet them?
(Nadler/the group) 15 minutes


  1. Introduction -- welcomes, good-byes, housekeeping (Nadler/Kaplan) 10 minutes

    Judith Nadler called the meeting to order at 9:35 a.m.  After Introductions had been completed, she annouced that Christian Boissonnas will be retiring from Cornell and that this would be his last Big Heads meeting. She asked the other Big Heads to please sign the farewell card that was going around.

  2. LC/ILS implementation -- impact on us (Wiggins) 10 minutes.

    Beacher Wiggins announced that LC had loaded all data and implemented all modules of Endeavor's Voyager by Oct. 1, 1999 as planned. 12 million bibliographic records and some 4 million authority records had been loaded. The MUMS system was closed down this week, on January 11. During the implementation, LC's goal was to stay current with incoming receipts; but, due to a 6-8 week period when the system was being fine-tuned and adjusted, the slow response time and the system's timing-out caused a builduup of current receipts. Through Dec. 1999 LC had cataloged 33,900 titles, compared to 39,800 as of last year at that time. He also gave statistics relating to authority records: 17,200 name authorities through Dec. 1999 (21,100 last year); 1,500 series authorities through Dec. 1999 (2,050 last year). (Cf. the LC round robin report for a more detailed look at the statistics: )

    One major impact of the Endeavor implementation is that there is no Z39.50 access to MARC-formatted authorities records; however LC is working with Endeavor to have them accessible by the end of calendar year 2000. For access to LC's MARC21 authority data during this interim period, users may consult the list, "Commercial Alternatives to CDMARC Products," compiled by the Library's Cataloging Distribution Service In response to a question, he said that Z39.50 does not yet provide diacritics; LC is again working with Endeavor to remedy this shortcoming.

    Michael Kaplan (Indiana) asked about CIP. Beacher replied that the Library was fairly current with processing new CIP galleys, it was, however, behind in updating CIP records based on receipt of the published book. He stated it would likely be at least another three to six months before all technical processing activity at LC is current. In fact, the Cataloging Directorate is using FY2000 as a recovery year, in terms of reaching levels of output comparable to pre-ILS implementation. To a question about check-in of serials Beacher replied that the Library had planned a phase-in of staff from manual check-in to checking-in using the system. The planned phase-in period is expected to take up to 3 years to implement. What has been revealed during the initial implementation period is that staff want to work; they were very frustrated when the system was not responsive and they could not get their work done and watched materials build up.

  3. Pinyin update -- are we informed? are we prepared? potential problems? (Wiggins/Leighton/Nadler/others)

    Beacher Wiggins distributed a coordinated timeline dated January 5, 2000 (jointly developed by LC, RLG, and OCLC) for the Pinyin Conversion Project. (The timeline is available at: ) He reported that LC had hosted a meeting initiated by Dale Flecker and Jeffrey Horrell of Harvard; the meeting had included people from OCLC and RLG. The Library, OCLC, and RLG had agreed on a Pinyin marker for both bibliographic records and name authority records (NARs) where information about the conversion status of MARC records that contain romanized Chinese data would be recorded. OCLC and LC will work on conversion specifications and procedures for the conversion of NARs while RLG will work on bibliographic record conversion.

    It had been decided that Oct. 1, 2000 will be Day 1 for switching to Pinyin romanization. After that date all romanization carried out by LC for systematically romanized Chinese will be done according to Pinyin guidelines rather than Wade-Giles. Records created by other libraries will also follow the Pinyin guidelines. LC will load its records, converted by RLG, into the LC database. These will be distributed by the Cataloging Distribution Service. OCLC will initiate the conversion of bibliographic records in WorldCat in October 2000 as well.

    The conversion of authority records by OCLC will precede, by a couple of months, the conversion of bibliographic records by RLG. OCLC and RLG will, however, use the same specifications developed by LC so that the resulting conversion of the authority and bibliographic records will be the same.

    LC has established a Pinyin home page. ) This page will be updated monthly to keep the library community informed of the progress of the Pinyin conversion. Beacher announced that there would be a meeting Sunday, January 16, 2000 at the Hilton Palacio del Rio to update the library community on Pinyin developments. Judith Nadler (Chicago) said that another point of discussion was aggregators; LC Pinyin romanization does not include word division. Libraries that wish to retain word searching on local systems that do not support adjacency searching have asked that the aggregator be retained in the records RLG exports. Beacher said that RLG will use the Sunday forum to discuss how the aggregator, used in RLIN, will be shown in the converted records and how this aggregator will be distributed. In response to a question from Michael Kaplan Beacher said records would start to show in the utilities two months before Day 1, which means that there will be a gap period when no work will be done against updated records. LC, RLG, and OCLC will work assiduously to keep the gap period as brief as possible. Judith Nadler urged timeliness of updates on the web page.

  4. CORC update and our experience with CORC (Kellar/Patton) and the group. 10 minutes.
  5. Lynn Kellar, an OCLC Team leader for CORC, said that CORC currently offers 4 databases (Resource descriptions (Catalog), Pathfinders, Authorities, and Dewey) as well as several new tools and interoperability with WorldCat and the Authority File in OCLC. One hundred seventy libraries, of all types and from many countries, are currently participating in CORC and OCLC is accepting new members every day. It is no longer just a "research" project; instead, it is currently viewed as a stepping stone to the next generation of OCLC's cataloging.

    Joyce Ogburn (University of Washington) asked about standards followed in the CORC Project. Lynn Kellar replied that OCLC has been collaborating closely with LC in developing and implementing a DC-MARC 21 crosswalk inside CORC. All records created in the Dublin Core view inside CORC will be automatically transformed by CORC into MARC 21 Encoding Level 3 (abbreviated records) records (with the value "dc" in the 042 (Authentication code) field) for the purposes of viewing/editing in MARC view, exporting in OCLC MARC and for batch transfer into WorldCat. Eric Childress of OCLC said from the audience that Level 3 has been in use by the National Library of Canada -- in WorldCat it will be below Level K. Level 3 will be upgradable.

    Carol Diedrichs (Ohio State University) expressed concern about attempts to make CORC too MARC-like; the workload associated with cataloging websites in MARC would be too extensive to be maintained. Judith Nadler (Chicago) agreed. CORC will have to broaden beyond MARC and Dublin Core. Lynn Kellar said that OCLC plans to do so; they have a list of possible other metadata schemes to implement next. Barbara Stelmasik said that Minnesota's experience with CORC had been similar to OSU's. UIUC as well has reservations about downloading from CORC to local catalogs; if the records are just MARC it would not be much better than cataloging things locally. LeighAnn Ayers said that staff at Michigan is less enthusiastic about CORC than they were at first; they want more metadata schemes.

    Duane Arenales (NLM) asked what are people's vision about what they want to do with CORC: integrate all records into one catalog, have multiple catalogs that can be searched simultaneously? Judith Nadler said that  at Chicago the CORC records and standard MARC catalog would not reside in one file but they would like that fact to be transparent to users. Roxanne Sellberg said that she would like CORC to develop as a separately accessible database of electronic resources that would be cooperatively created and maintained, and that would be easily available and navigable by end-users. There should be no reason to replicate CORC records in local library catalogs. CORC is an opportunity to extend and advance the idea of cooperative cataloging on which OCLC was founded. Library users should have the option of searching the CORC database simultaneously with other databases sush as WorldCat or the local library catalog, but they should also have the option of only searching the CORC database of electronic resources (or subsets of it). Arno Kastner (NYU) asked what CORC was for, how it is being applied in libraries? Is the use experimental or is it the beginning of an on-going use of CORC for certain categories of materials? Lynn Kellar said OCLC envisions it as a extension to WorldCat. Carol Hixson (UCLA) commented that she heard around the table more interest in expanding to other metadata schemes than to bring current schemes to production mode.

    Larry Alford (UNC-Chapel Hill) said that one of the most exciting parts of CORC as originally conceived was the partnership between selectors and catalogers to create metadata records for web resources with selectors learning to create those records. So far CORC has seemed to be largely a cataloging project, but he hoped selector participation would grow.   Christian Boissonnas said that one of the primary reasons why CORC was a success at Cornell was that it demonstrated that a cross-functional team approach to bibliographic control of electronic resources, with selectors able to create records works very well, even in Cornell's highly complex and decentralized environment. Judith Nadler said that Chicago finally has begun to work with bibliographers on CORC, especially in areas where web pages were not highly developed.  Two selectors have their work reviewed by the CORC administrator but Chicago expects them to become independent soon.

  6. Cost study update (Boissonnas) 10 minutes.
  7. Christian Boissonnas distributed a handout containing a list of Cornell University's cost centers and tasks plus pictures of several display screens. They now have software which allows them to enter and manipulate data; they are still testing it. Michael Kaplan (Indiana) asked if Cornell is collecting data every week or only for selected weeks.  The answer was during 6 weeks a year, chosen randomly. All project libraries collect data for the same weeks. Lee Leighton (UC-Berkeley) said "You earlier said you weren't seeing any surprises in the data; is that still true?" The answer was "Yes." The methodology has lots to do with coming up with comparable data. The data seems to fit reasonably well with impressions. Carol Hixson (UCLA) asked how soon the software and documentation would be made available to others. From the audience Dilys Morris (the originator of the methodology) said she hopes to have it available by mid-year 2000. She added that she had compared data from Cornell and Iowa State and had found great similarities. Cornell devoted 63% of time to product centers, at Iowa State the figure was 66 % Both devoted most time to Acquisitions followed by cataloging. She announced that she had retired as Head of Technical Services at Iowa State as of December 1, 1999 but is continuing to work on the cost study as a research project.

  8. Managing electronic acquisitions (Arenales, others) 10 minutes.
  9. Duane Arenales said that NLM is facing problems in tracking electronic acquisitions through the licensing process. She asked if others are using their ILS to manage this data. Bob Wolven (Columbia) said he had noticed several libraries reporting on efforts in their pre-San Antonio round robin reports. There didn't seem to be much of a common approach as yet. Christian Boissonnas (Cornell) said ARL is having a meeting in February 2000 to discuss this topic; Ann Okerson (Yale) said that the ARL project is focussing on usage. Michael Kaplan said that Indiana is scanning all their licenses to make them available to all. Ann Okerson said that at Yale Collection Development is responsible for licensing management. She said we needed to have more consistency in provisions in the licenses; that would mean we need to renegotiate old licenses with database publishers, something that Yale had started to do. Judith Nadler said that at Chicago they hadn't tried to develop a database; instead they concentrated on what they wanted to track. They had found that the information was dispersed among many individuals at the University. They decided that the Head of Acquisitions would be responsible for licensing management. Larry Alford (UNC-CH) asked Ann Okerson if publishers were really willing to renegotiate older licenses; Ann said Yale had managed to convince them to do so.

BREAK. The meeting resumed at 11:05 a.m.

  1. What was the impact of the budget cuts of the 90s on Technical Services: rebuilding? rethinking? changes in attitude, priorities and standards?
  2. Lee Leighton (UC-Berkeley) suggested that the overall topic of Technical Services in the new millennium made a good framework for this topic. Many libraries have experienced budget cuts; others have had increases. What has been the impact of these budget changes? Bob Wolven said it had forced Columbia to concentrate on doing things more efficiently. Greater use of PCs has been a result of budget cuts as Columbia moved from labor intensive tasks to an automated approach. Lee Leighton (UC-Berkeley) asked if we are more reactive or proactive; are we more efficient than we used to be? Judith Nadler (Chicago) said if we are not proactive we had better be. Catherine Tierney said Stanford had had to reduce the number of handoffs and start doing work where it made the best sense; they are also using vendors more. Their whole mind set has changed; they don't expect to have a stable organization but every opening is now an opportunity to rethink and reorganize. Michael Kaplan (Indiana) commented that one of the great strengths of librarianship is the existence of standards which enable us to trust the work of others. We have to be able to accept quality from others without distrust. Duane Arenales (NLM) said we need more highly skilled people in technical services today than we did 10 years ago; we need more flexible people since we need to retrain people more frequently (speaking both of professional catalogers and nonprofessionals.) Arno Kastner (NYU) said while we are trained to be proactive we are having to be reactive; we are hearing more directly from our users and having to respond to them (they are saying things like "we can get things more easily and more quickly from than we are getting them from the library", etc.) Ann Okerson (Yale) said you have to think in terms of long-range planning, about 6-8 years. We need to figure out how to identify big projects, figuring out how to get them done, and doing them. Judith Nadler (Chicago) said that even without budget cuts there are expectations that you will do more with same amount of money; in effect that is a budget cut. Catherine Tierney reported that Stanford flattened managment layers by one. Department heads now are doing more day to day supervisory work, which leaves them little time do to space planning, job design, strategic planning and other more managerial duties. Catherine Tierney said that she wishes her staff plan could include the concept of "bibliographic nursery," where new staff would get solid grounding in bibliographic concepts and practices before they went out to any of the jobs in technical services or beyond. These skills were typically developed on "easy" trade publications; now that vendors provide bibliographic records and EDI receiving for these materials, staff struggle with learning on the harder materials. Jane Ouderkirk said that collection management at Harvard is providing some funding to techical services.

  3. Are there new types of work emerging in technical services? Are we approaching our work differently today?
    1. Are there major new initiatives?
    2. Has any of the old work gone away?

    Michael Kaplan (Indiana) said that Ejournals and the Internet are new types of work. Filing of catalog cards has by and large gone away as has some copy cataloging (gone to vendors). New watchwords are such terms as: Valueadded, what we can do to make a difference. Original cataloging is the most significant thing we do. Enhancing records in OCLC is also a significant contribution. We need to look at procedures from beginning to end, and concentrate on where we can add the value, sending other things to vendors. Catherine Tierney (Stanford) said that new work is related to old: transferring old bibliograhic skills to new materials. The one new area is digitization. Roxanne Sellberg (Northwestern) added her opinion that digitization projects were compelling technical services librarians to participate in work that is fundamentally different from traditional materials acquisitions, bibliographic control, and preservation work: authoring new scholarly works. Although these works may have a content foundation of a previously published text or previously compiled collection (of images/sounds, etc.), the value added by librarians in many digitization projects goes far beyond providing access.

    LeighAnn Ayers (Michigan)) said she has found more interacting within libraries taking place now; technical services staff are now serving more outside of the technical services. Bob Wolven (Columbia) said that digitized materials tend to be new types of materials that formerly did not get library treatment (e.g., Archives); it is not rote work. He finds greater need for cataloging management. More and more funds are being spent on large scale electronic sets which change from year to year; there is a need to approach them as large scale projects. Lee Leighton (Berkeley) said that problem-solving at all levels is now a part of the work at all levels. People now have to be more problem solvers than production people. Carol Diedrichs (OSU) commented that today our possibilities for cataloging or providing access to materials are almost infinite. Dilys Morris said from the audience that we spend lots of tme talking abut cataloging but she thinks we need to focus on more acquisitions. Time studies show the greatest staff size is in Acquisitions. We need to get vendors to devote more time to improve acquisitions work. Technical services, especially acquisitions activities, cannot improve if bibliographers work doesn't improve. Selectors across the country are doing the same things: choosing the same materials, reviewing the work of vendors. We need a way of reviewing what vendors are doing for us from a broader perspective. We need software that compares what a vendor provides against what is available. Carol Diedrichs (OSU) said that a year's experience with OhioLink's statewide approval vendors shows we are NOT all buying the same things. Duane Arenales (NLM) said we need to look at virtual collections as well as physical collections. She quoted Cliff Lynch of CNI as saying that if undergraduates can't find something electronically they are not interested. Larry Alford (UNC-Chapel Hill) said that based on an overlap study conducted by the Triangle Research Libraries Network he has been surprised at how differently TRLN institutions are developing research collections while using vendor approval plans.

  4. Are there new staffing patterns and organizations in technical services departments?
  5. Catherine Tierney (Stanford) asked us to identify for each other work that is done across units, e.g., e.g., new units that do tasks such as monographs receiving along with some copy cataloging. Most of the Big Heads raised their hands on that one. Christian Boissonnas (Cornell) said that format-based specialization for cataloging in the current technical environment needed to be changed . For a number of years Cornell has trained catalogers to catalog in several formats and look at their jobs as cataloging of a broad spectrum of library resources, not as cataloging of a specific format. Not all catalogers can catalog all formats and probably never will but all can do more than one. It is not necessary that all catalogers be proficient with all formats, as long as enough of them are proficient with enough formats that cataloging does not get delayed because of the unavailability of specific expertise. The 21st century library cannot be managed in traditional ways; we must involve people from across traditional boundaries, and work with people outside of technical services on technical services issues. We must be concerned about retraining ourselves as managers to deal with the changes. Catherine Tierney (Stanford) asked to hear about any breaking down of boundaries between Technical Services and other areas. Bob Wolven (Columbia) said that in many libraries Technical Services now include Preservation and Systems. Increasingly preservation will come to mean preservation of digital materials. Someone added Special Collections and Archives as new partners for Technical Services.

  6. How equipped are we to enter the new millennium? What are our greatest challenges? How do we plan to meet them?
  7. Judith Nadler (Chicago) said our strength lies in the fact that much of what the future will bring is already familiar to us, introduced in the recent past. We have heard about accountability, we are increasingly technical savvy, legal savvy. Rethinking has become more institutionalized. We have changed our traditional organizations. For example, the University of Chicago library no longer has Technical Services or Systems Divisions, it has an Information Resources Management Division that incorporates both of the former divisions. Technical Services functions have changed quite a bit and we are not ill-equipped to deal with the future.

    However, some of the changes we have implemented do make us vulnerable. We are increasingly relying on vendors and vended products. This is both a strength and a weakness. We have integrated vended services into our processes and our staff has bought into the concept of outsourcing (I could not see us doing everything inhouse). However, vendors are subject to organizational changes that may alter their priorities along lines that are potentially detrimental for us. There is little competition among our vendors and they are often sole suppliers. We need to develop a shared understanding of what is most important to us and what is less so, and to communicate this clearly. We must find ways to "help our vendors help us."

    Another vulnerability lies in the increased competition for a basic core of skilled staff. Lee Leighton (UC-Berkeley) said that new staff have broader training and backgrounds than we did. Judith Nadler (Chicago) said we have to help vendors to help us.

    Wendy Reidel (LC) said from the audience that 50% of LC's staff will be eligible to retire in 2002 as a result of years of hiring freezes. She wondered if other libraries are having to deal with that? Christian Boissonnas said he has been trying to alert management to this fact for 10 years; He thought that perhaps half of Cornell's catalogers would be eligible to retire in 10 years. Someone said staffing problems are probably worth concentrating on at a future meeting. Lucille Rosa , Head of the Technical Services Division at the U.S. Naval War College said from the audience that 5 of the 6 people in her office left in same year. The worst problem was all the training they had to provide for the new staff. The upside was that the departing staff had been employed there for a long time, sometimes over 30 years, and had tended to oppose change. Bringing in new people allowed for a more flexible staff who didn't fight change; it provides the Naval War College Library new opportunities. From the audience John Attig (Penn State) suggested that staff use would be a good topic of discussion at a future meeting. We cannot afford not to make maximum use of our staff but we often cannot compensate them to the extent of making the maximum use of them.

Judith Nadler said we have two suggested topics for the next meeting: making use of staff and new approaches to automated acquisitions.

ANNOUNCEMENT Michael Kaplan announced that after the OCLC Users Council meeting in February he would be leaving Indiana to become Director of Product Management for Ex Libris.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:02 p.m.