Pack Light: Changes in Technical Services Staffing & Workflow


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Co-presented at OVGTSL 2010 on May 20th.

Program description: To say that the information environment has changed in the past few decades would simply not capture the complexity and richness of the innovations that prompted those changes. However, many Technical Services departments are still carrying the proverbial heavy suitcase while trying to navigate the changing information landscape. In order to lighten the load of suitcases, many frequent travelers lay out everything that they think they need, and then pack only half of that. What would happen if Technical Services went through and listed every task it did and eliminated the non-critical ones?

There have been several efforts in the field doing just that. For example, the R2 Consulting Company has identified low-value tasks that could be left behind to allow for a department to focus on more mission critical tasks. The Technical Services department at the Miami University Libraries has identified several tasks that it could make more efficient or discontinue all together. This presentation will cover these tasks covering several areas of the department (cataloging, physical processing, and serials to name a few), as well as the successes and challenges in creating a department that is better equipped to address the changes coming its way.

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  • Brief explanation about the “pack light.” March 2008 went to Paris with other library students. We were poor at the time so we relied on the public transportation system.
  • Observation of what people packed. Which one had an easier time navigating the European public transportation system?
  • How can this rule be applied to Technical Services departments?
  • Screenshot of partial list of all the tasks we do in our department.
    Sit down with everyone in the department and list off all major tasks. Get specific – don’t just list “cataloging.” What levels of cataloging do you do? What formats do you catalog? And so forth.
    For our department, we brainstormed a bit, unsorted list of the tasks we do. Afterwards, I categorized this list using four categories: Acquiring, Organizing, Accessing, and Managing.
  • What not to pack – look at list here for guidance.
  • Several things that we have either stopped doing in part or entirely.
  • One example of how some low hanging fruit may be low value for the department itself, but essential for others in the library.
  • Screenshot of planet toc service:
  • Ok, you went through the list and took out the non-mission critical tasks. Congratulations – you’re halfway done! Even though you have identified the activities that must continue in order for the department and the library to meet their missions, chances are that these tasks could use a look-over to see if they are not as efficient as they could be.
  • Automation is your friend. Almost anything can be automated at various levels in Technical Services.
  • One example on how a major workflow can be automated
  • Other things we are currently dealing with. The PDA pilot will definitely change all areas of the department, so we will have to reconfigure and move people around to best deal with the coming workflow changes.
  • There are some things we can’t touch due to external factors. For us, university policy affects how we run our acquisitions operation.
  • Butterfingers and Reeses
  • Pack Light: Changes in Technical Services Staffing & Workflow

    1. 1. Pack Light: Changes in Technical Services Staffing & Workflow Becky Yoose Bibliographic Systems Librarian Miami University
    2. 2. Paris 2008
    3. 3. What they packed What I packed
    4. 4. The Rule of Packing Light <ul><li>Lay out everything you think you need </li></ul><ul><li>Pack half of that </li></ul>
    5. 6. <ul><li>“… we should seek to recognize and question </li></ul><ul><li>outdated remnants of pre-automation routines, </li></ul><ul><li>manual transcription, </li></ul><ul><li>item by item decisions or tasks, </li></ul><ul><li>redundant systems, </li></ul><ul><li>repetition, </li></ul><ul><li>procedures that introduce error, </li></ul><ul><li>and seeking the perfect in favor of the good.” </li></ul><ul><li>-- Fischer, Ruth, and Lugg, Rick, 2005. “Just Say No: Eliminating Low-Value Tasks.” Against the Grain 16 (6), 84. </li></ul>
    6. 7. Low hanging fruit <ul><li>Shelf-lists </li></ul><ul><li>Processing unsolicited periodicals </li></ul><ul><li>Gifts (not in-kind) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accepting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Processing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Binding </li></ul><ul><li>Manual statistics </li></ul><ul><li>DLC record editing (if not CIP) </li></ul><ul><li>Call number duplication checks in receipt cataloging </li></ul><ul><li>Selecting all books on an item to item basis </li></ul><ul><li>And more… </li></ul>
    7. 8. Physical LIS Journal Routing <ul><li>Issues: </li></ul><ul><li>Law of routing journals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You will receive the 2/15 issue of LJ in October (year after) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most routed journals are available online in FT with no embargo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>45 of 51 LIS journals online, FT with brief to no embargo </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Staff reductions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Needed to free up time to focus on other workflows </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Solution: </li></ul><ul><li>Individual RSS feeds </li></ul><ul><ul><li>EBSCO Journal Alerts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>LISTA, ASC </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feed43 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Roll your own </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>planetplanet meta feed aggregator </li></ul><ul><li>YMMV </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yahoo pipes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>list individual feeds, no metafeed </li></ul></ul>
    8. 10. Critical mission tasks review <ul><li>Any TS workflows meet the following criteria? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>manual transcription </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>item by item decisions or tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>redundant systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>repetition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>procedures that introduce error </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Alternate question  </li></ul><ul><li>Does your department look like this? </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    9. 11. What and how of automation <ul><li>What </li></ul><ul><li>Database Maintenance </li></ul><ul><li>Ordering </li></ul><ul><li>Cataloging </li></ul><ul><li>Serials </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Statistics </li></ul><ul><li>Etc. etc. etc. </li></ul><ul><li>How </li></ul><ul><li>Batch processing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>III – Global Update </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MarcEdit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PromptCat </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Task automation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Macros </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Program specific </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>3 rd party applications </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scripts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>PHP, Expect, MySQL, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 12. Automation Demo <ul><li>Screencast </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Process Documentation </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    11. 13. Other things to look at <ul><li>PDA Pilot for e-books </li></ul><ul><ul><li>YBP/ebrary </li></ul></ul><ul><li>E-books in general </li></ul><ul><li>Not updating more types of 3 rd party records </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-DLC/PCC records that meet receipt cataloging criteria otherwise </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stop serials checkin </li></ul><ul><li>Stop placing book plates in general collection books </li></ul>E-books, E-Journals…
    12. 14. Low hanging forbidden fruit <ul><li>Things that are not under our control </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AKA University Policy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mostly in Acquisitions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Invoicing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>University Policy – no electronic invoices accepted at University level </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fund tracking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>University Policy – have to use complex system to track individual funds/endowments </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Solution: Workarounds to minimize impact to department </li></ul>
    13. 15. Thank you & Questions Becky Yoose Bibliographic Systems Librarian Miami University Twitter: yo_bj Heavy Light