Hi everyone! Thanks for giving me the chance to share a little bit about how the Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford Law School has worked towards efficiently increasing access to our collection and streamlining workflows. My name is Jake Kubrin and I am the library’s Metadata Librarian.
My responsibilities include copy and original cataloging of print and some digital resources – and beginning in September 2018 I was cross-trained in acquisitions. Since then, I have been responsible for acquisitions of firm orders of foreign language print monographs from international vendors. I’m going to talk about how combining acquisitions and cataloging into my day to day work has allowed our technical services department to operate more efficiently while also improving the range of services offered to our patrons by our library.
When doing some research about cross-training, I came across this book by Gillian Tett about organizational effectiveness and teams in the workplace called, “The silo effect.” It was helpful in developing a frame of reference for thinking about blending cataloging and acquisitions work.
She says, that silos leave us blind to risks and also opportunities. To me, this means not regularly developing new or related skills is a risky practice. Put in the context of the operations of a library’s technical services department, cross-training staff also helps us to take a step back to think about how to improve the efficiency of our workflows and increase access to resources.
First, I want to talk about how folding acquisitions of foreign language materials alongside my regular cataloging work has led us to a number of improvements in the operations and workflows of our technical services department. The first advantage that strikes me is how this new workflow has increased our patrons’ access to these international materials through our local catalog as well as patrons worldwide through global access via Worldcat. With more foreign language materials being purchased and coming across my desk for cataloging, I have more opportunities to enhance the bibliographic descriptions for the records in OCLC. International vendor records are not always complete and limits a users’ ability to find, identify, select, and obtain resources. This may mean simple maintenance in a master OCLC record performing such tasks as controlling headings or adding/editing additional MARC fields. The MARC record in the photo is a recent example where headings were controlled and our work has been documented by the red circle around our OCLC symbol. More significantly, many authors of these foreign language materials may need an entire name authority record, and as a NACO member a NAR is created. Integrating authority control management means users get a higher degree of success when using our catalog – one of the principle goals for any technical services department.Folding acquisitions work into cataloging has also improved the efficiency of our operations, something Tett also writes about. She described Facebook’s practice of asking employees to move projects every 12-18 months in order to avoid a silo’ed workplace – helping the company to catch more bugs than ever before. While our libraries do not have to worry about the same scalability problems as Facebook does, the model of rotating and also introducing new responsibilities has held similar advantages for our technical services department. Tackling foreign language print monographs has allowed my colleagues to focus on other difficult or detail oriented acquisitions projects or tasks – meaning they can be processed with fewer errors. In other words, our acq. Team is better situated to deal with complex orders and projects while still being able regularly order foreign language and international print monographs throughout the fiscal year without interruptions.
In addition to the specific workflows of tech services, combining acquisitions and cataloging means the library is able to improve a number of services in providing our patrons efficient access to our resources and collection.
Providing relevant collections/delivery of resources is a key service our library offers to our users. Our annual student survey showed students have an interest in foreign language material, selectors (with the help from reference librarians as shown in the circle) regularly keep in touch with faculty research projects to make sure that we have the right international resources (and in the preferred formats – which at the time is still print) available to them, and new clinics and curriculum routinely popping up all help to direct the growth of our collection. With this information in mind, our library is capable of meeting the research needs of our users even as they change. Folding acq. of foreign lang. and international materials into my workflow, allows us to continue to work collaboratively across departments to meet this changing needs more easily. As Tett mentioned, one of the ways to avoid a silo syndrome is to “keep the boundaries of organizations flexible and fluid.” As a result of adopting flexible workflows that include cataloging and acquisitions, new opportunities were later presented that improved our services. For instance, learning to place firm orders for foreign language materials is a very similar process to firm orders for course reserves and faculty requests. I’ve been able to pitch in and help with these time-sensitive tasks as needed. As a result, priority or rush faculty requests can be ordered, received, and cataloged by me – smoothening operations and filling our faculty requests faster. Similarly, I have also been able to help with purchasing course reserves -- for a school on a quarter system, this often disrupts our normal workflows so additional assistance allows normal technical services operations to continue regularly. This allows our access services team the chance to offer a more complete set of course reserves – something law students find very valuable given the high cost of legal monographs like casebooks.
Finally, I’d like to talk briefly about things we have been mindful of during this process and our iterative strategy for enhancing this workflow even more in the future:First: as I learned acq workflows – my first responsibility was to create documentation. Taking a lot of screenshots, providing notes, and making them available on a shared drive, has not only meant I have documentation for myself to use, but also it can be shared with staff who may need it later. Given the many unique funding codes, vendor IDs, order types, there is plenty to be remembered. This documentation is still in the process of being refined and updated as I continue to learn best practices.Speaking of best practices: having learned about acq. Workflows, piqued my interest in signing up for additional training. The Fundamentals of Acq. Course from ALTCS has been a very helpful introduction to the concepts and vocabulary used in acq. We are about half way through the course currently, but would suggest to anyone needing a refresher or someone who did not benefit from having a similar course in library school.
Finally, the last thing that I want to introduce is it is helpful to define priorities: With dual responsibilities, determining what types of tasks need to completed require help from supervisors and managers. Given our policy to process faculty requests first, acq. And then cataloging will need to be done first
A New Workflow for Cataloging and Acquisitions to Increase Access and Effectiveness
A NEWWORKFLOW FOR
CATALOGING AND ACQUISITIONSTO
INCREASE ACCESS AND
Robert Crown Law Library, Stanford Law School
NCTPG 82nd Annual Meeting, 2019
“[WHEN] OUR CLASSIFICATION
SYSTEMS BECOME EXCESSIVELY
RIGID,AND SILOS DANGEROUSLY
ENTRENCHED,THIS CAN LEAVE US
BLINDTO RISKS AND EXCITING
GillianTett, The silo effect: the peril of expertise and the promise of breaking
down barriers, (NewYork, Simon & Schuster, 2015, 247)
Access: Opportunities to
metadata of global and local
Access: Diverse foreign and
Efficiency: Expedited faculty
requests and timely
availability of course
Documentation Training Priorities