Library Process Redesign: Renewing Services, Changing Workflows


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Invited presentation for Cambridge University Library, 10 February 2011. Reviews trends in research library collections including e-resources and special collections; discusses principles and practice of library process redesign to free up time for new initiatives.

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Library Process Redesign: Renewing Services, Changing Workflows

  1. 1. Prepared for Library Process Redesign: Cambridge University Library Renewing Services,10 February 2011 Changing WorkflowsThe Deming circle. Karen CalhounImage: CC BY 3.0Diagram by Karn G. Bulsuk ( VP Metadata, OCLC
  2. 2. 2Outline• Review of library collection trends ▫ The Cambridge strategy ▫ E-resources and special collections as priorities• Trends in special collections’ usage and management• Freeing up time for new initiatives ▫ The principles and practice of library process redesign
  3. 3. Themes of the Cambridge University LibraryStrategic PlanUser-centered collections and services1. Usability, discoverability, access • Understanding of user communities • Knowledge organization • Visibility of collections • Ease of use – ‘desktop delivery’2. Highly skilled staff; organizational development • Digital librarianship3. Preservation and housing of collections • Storage and space • Collection management4. The ‘hybrid library’ – not either/or but both/and • Physical and online collections; expansion of the digital library5. Resourcing • UEF and HEFCE funding reductions • Fundraising • Increased efficiency
  4. 4. 4 Median Circulation and Reference Transactions in North American Research Libraries 1991-2008, With Five Year Forecast400000 “65% of information requests originate off-campus.” –350000 University of Minnesota Discoverability report, p. 4300000250000 Circulation200000 Reference Transactions Linear (Circulation)150000 Linear (Reference Transactions)10000050000 Data source: ARL Statistics 2007-2008 0
  5. 5. 5 Percentage Change in Median Resources Per Student at ARL Libraries, 2000-2008 (Compared to 2000) 0.005 0 -0.005 -0.01 Staff -0.015 Monographs -0.02 2.00 Purchased 1.80 Volumes Added -0.025 1.60 -0.03 1.40 -0.035 1.20 1.00 Eserials 0.80 Expenditures 0.60 Change in Staff, Volumes Added, 0.40 Monographs Purchased Per Student 0.20 0.00Data source: ARL Statistics 2007-2008 Change in E-Serials Expenditures Per Student
  6. 6. 6What Did Users Say They Want? (2002)•Faculty and students do morework and study away fromcampus•Loyal to the library, but library Do you use electronic sources all of the time, most of the time, some of the time, or none of theis only one element in complex time?information structure 60%•Print still important, but almost 50%half of undergraduates say they 40% Percent Faculty/Graduaterely exclusively or almost 30% 20% Undergradexclusively on electronic 10%materials 0% All of the Some of the None of the•Seamless linking from one time/most of the time time timeinformation object to another is Responsesexpected•Fast forward to 2011: these many times stronger!
  7. 7. 7 Open Access Repositories Gaining Visibility and Impact 2008-2009 Traffic Compared: *Social Science Research Network * *Research Papers in Economics *British Library ( 15 Nov 2009 and the Cybermetrics Lab’s ranking of topRepositories (disciplinary and institutional) at
  8. 8. 8 October 2010“Special collections and archives are increasingly seen as elementsof distinction that serve to differentiate an academic or research libraryfrom its peers … however, much rare and unique material remainsundiscoverable, and monetary resources are shrinking at the same timethat user demand is growing.”—Executive summary
  9. 9. 9Rising Interest in Digital Collections on the BnFand LC Web Sites Where do people go on and BnF: Expositions: 30% Catalogue: 26% Gallica: 26% LC: American Memory: 41%Source:, 15 Nov 2009 Catalog: 17% Legislative information (THOMAS): 6%
  10. 10. 10 Research into use and users of digital library collections “The function of searching across “The availability of primary sources has Usage of University of Wisconsin Digital Collections collections is a the success of my been crucial for dream frequently discussedin history. Students have at a teaching 2001-2008 [1] but seldom realized remarked what a difference it has made, 10000000 robusthave noticed apaper … and I level. This big difference 9000000 R2 = 0.9701 8000000Millions of Sessions/Uses discusses this coursemight move between how we with the availability 7000000 6000000 from isolated digital collections Ito of online primary resources to those 5000000 4000000 interoperable digital libraries.”on have taught before that were based 3000000 2000000 1000000 printed resources.” –History instructor, —Howard Besser [4] [2] University of California 0 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 “Digital libraries, far from being simple digital versions of library holdings, are now attracting a new type of public, bringing about new, unique and original ways for reading and understanding texts.”—BibUsages Study 2002 [3] See final slide for citations.
  11. 11. 11 Some process redesign principles for special collections “Special collections are stuck in an eddy, while the mass of digitized books drift by in the current of the mainstream. We need to jump into the flow or risk being left high and dry.”—p. 4 • Programs not projects • Describing special collections— take a page from the archivists • Quality vs. quantity—quantity wins! • Discovery happens elsewhere— get exposed!
  12. 12. Don’t Get Further Behind! Learnfrom the Archivists • Item level description – Get over it! • Some access is better than no access - really David Steuart Erskine, founder, Scottish Society of Antiquaries
  13. 13. 13Meanwhile …… the demands of processing the print/AV collections continue to dominate how technical services staff spend their time By Ulleskelf CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
  14. 14. 14Staffing allocations = de factopriorities Estimated FTE Allocations in A Research Library TS Division 3% 2% 3% 5% 8% 9% 70% Print/AV Support Management/Training Metadata E-Resources Special Collections Programming/Web Support Desktop Support
  15. 15. 15What to do?• How to free up time for these new priorities …• … while TS staffing continues to shrink? The Deming circle. Image: CC BY 3.0 Diagram by Karn G. Bulsuk (
  16. 16. 16 A Blueprint for Change: Innovate and Reduce Costs
  17. 17. 17Where metadata comes from(and will come from) • Library cataloging • Publishers, vendors, aggregators Professionally • Publication supply chain data (ONIX) produced • Abstracting and indexing services • Authority, classification data, terminologies • Institutional repositories Author/User • Scholarly portals (e.g., contributed • Tags, reviews, lists, etc. • Knowledge bases • Algorithmically-created indexes Mined • Author identity pages • Facets for topics, places, events • FRBR Work Sets … Algorithmically produced, re- used, harvested
  18. 18. 18Achieving efficiencies: workflowredesign principles1. Look at the whole process as one process (e.g., selection to ordering to receipt to cataloging to shelf-ready)2. Maximize acquisitions/cataloging collaboration3. Capture bibliographic data as far upstream as possible (at point of selection/ordering if you can)4. To the greatest extent possible, handle items and records only once5. Perform work where it makes the most sense; and maximize use of students/volunteers6. Wholly manual processes do not scale; integrate automated and manual operations
  19. 19. 19 Case study: Before and after workflow redesign for print monographs processing • All cataloging done in cataloging • Many exceptions Percent Before • Manual approach Change redesign during this period: FTE down • Automated approach 20% • Few exceptionsRedesign and • 50% of cataloging done in acquisitions Catalogingfree up staff up 64% • E-resource unit staffed • Metadata unit staffed Address • Special collections/digital projects staffed priorities
  20. 20. 20Themes of the Transition in TechnicalServices• More with less• Streamlined workflows• Greater use of batch and macro strategies• Greater use of technology• Greater integration of acquisitions and cataloging• More cooperation• Partnerships with vendors• Outsourcing• New roles and responsibilities ▫ E-resources licensing and management ▫ Metadata services (institutional repositories) ▫ Special collections / digitization projects
  21. 21. 21A range of outsourcing solutions beingimplemented by many ▫ Approval plans (with records supplied) ▫ Shelf ready services ▫ Outsourced non-English language cataloging ▫ Re-use of publisher and vendor records ▫ Post-cataloging authority control ▫ Batch search/record capture services ▫ Record sets for e-journals and e-books ▫ And now … patron-driven acquisitions (records loaded to library’s catalog or discovery service)
  22. 22. 22What is Technical Services “Quality”? • Must begin with user’s needs and end with user’s perceptions • What does ‘quality’ mean? ▫ Fast cycle time for new materials ▫ Providing for easy, convenient use of library collections* ▫ Being creative, responsive and flexible ▫ Optimizing the library’s investment in personnel, materials, equipment, etc. ▫ Balancing trade-offs*A recent example = patron-driven acquisitions!
  23. 23. 23Metadata Before and After the Web:What is a “Full” Record? Product description & purchase information More like this Editorial reviews & author info Inside the book Tags, Ratings Bibliographic data Customer reviews Library Holdings Lists Details More Subjects Editions Reviews + 3 more screensWith thanks to David Lankes:
  24. 24. 24 What is ‘good enough’ cataloging?
  25. 25. 25How many of you have considered orimplemented changes to workflows forphysical materials? For example …• Get most of your cataloging done as part of the acquisitions process?• Re-use others’ records (including publisher or vendor record sets) with minimal or no further review?• Ruthlessly pare down exceptions to standard workflows?• Do patron-driven acquisitions for print books?
  26. 26. 26Library metadata has reached a point ofdiscontinuous changeWe must change how we think about it andwhat we do Photo by: OMG Ventures
  27. 27. Endings What we call the beginning is often the end And to make an end is to make a beginning The end is where we start from --T.S. Eliot 27
  28. 28. 28“It’s not the changes that do you in,it’s the transitions” –William Bridges Change = something in the external environment changes (e.g., a new library director is hired; a new system is being introduced; a reorganization occurs; new procedures or policies are planned) Transition = an internal psychological reorientation process to a change It is critical to manage transitions and include staff in the process. The three phases of transitionBridges, William. 1991. Managing transitions: making the most of change.Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.
  29. 29. 29Digital Collections Slide - Citations• [1] Data source for chart: University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center. Summary Statistics.• [2] Quote from survey respondent as reported in Harley, Diane. 2007. Use and users of digital resources. Educause Quarterly 4, p. 12-20.• [3a] Assadi, Houssem, et al. 2002. Use and users of online digital libraries in France. (BibUsages project)• And• [3b] Lupovici, Catherine, and Lesquins, Noémie. 2007. Gallica 2.0: a second life for the Bibliothèque nationale de France digital library. Lupovici-en.pdf• [4] Besser, Howard. 2002. The next stage: moving from digital collections to interoperable digital libraries. First Monday 7:6.
  30. 30. 30Questions and Comments?