Library Committee Handbook

Executive Committee



Acquisitions and Technical Services: A Staffing Proposal

Background

With the resignation of Lisa German as Acquisitions Librarian, the opportunity has arisen to reexamine the logic and assumptions underlying the current structure of technical services within the Library.  Earlier this year, some of this reexamination had already begun, well before Lisa was even thinking about leaving. This arose from a process started in 2002 under the auspices of the Task Force on Access.  Indeed it is instructive to remember that what is proposed below is not simply occasioned by Lisa’s departure, but is the result of thinking, planning and encroaching external events that have been in progress for at least four years. In fact, one might argue that the creation of the AUL for Services position recognized these developing trends.  One of the primary working assumptions underlying the Services position was the mutual dependency of public and technical services and the necessity of breaking down the traditional barriers that had separated the two.

 

In a similar way, and one foreshadowed in my own presentation during my interview for the AUL for Services position, was the emerging integration of the two major elements of technical services, acquisitions and cataloging.  At that time we recognized that in the electronic environment records created during the acquisition process were used as the basis for, and later the essence of future catalog records.  Over the past few years, especially under Lisa German’s leadership and made possible by changing technology, many catalog records, such as those containing CIP (Cataloging in Publication data), are prepared and entered into the catalog in their entirety in acquisitions. In addition an increasing number of vendors (Blackwell and Casalini, for example) are issuing records along with the materials they provide.

 

As the technological developments that fuel these changes gain momentum and the pace of change increases, it seems prudent to think how we can efficiently and effectively harness our own human and technological resources to acquire and process new acquisitions and those materials licensed by us to optimize access by our users. We also have large cataloging backlogs (for example in Rare Book and Special Collections) that need attention as well as ways to enhance access to our non-book materials.  It is becoming increasingly evident that if we retain our current structure, with separate acquisitions and content access management (CAM) units without any other coordination except that which exists either at the AUL level or by the good will of the heads of these units, we will not be able to meet the service needs of the user.  Not only are there technological, legal, and workflow issues involved, but there also exist an increasing array of national initiatives that require close and expert monitoring.  In addition, the increasing collaborations on campus with CITES and Educational Technologies require more attention than can be given at the AUL level.  In order to meet the demands that are currently upon us and those that are viewable on the horizon and expected beyond the horizon, I am proposing that we both fill the vacancy created by Lisa’s departure, and also create another position, Coordinator of Intellectual Access Services.  With these two positions I believe we will be able to meet the challenges that lie before us.

 

Acquisitions Librarian

 

Description: This position will coordinate, facilitate, and supervise the activities of one library faculty member and approximately 19FTE staff, graduate assistants, and student workers in all aspects of acquisitions and those cataloging operations currently done in acquisitions.  In addition, this person will develop, implement, and review policies and procedures of the acquisitions department.  The incumbent will oversee firm orders, approval plans and blanket orders, be actively involved in the continued development of automated acquisitions and the design and implementation of new technology in support of acquisitions operations.  This includes overall oversight of all acquisitions activities, regardless of language or format, and regardless of the current location of other personnel in the library carrying out acquisitions processes. Furthermore, the incumbent will be responsible for vendor negotiation, oversight of day-to-day collection budget operations, and will work closely with the Library Business Office and with campus Purchasing, and will collaborate with CIC and UI sister libraries in cooperative collection development activities.  This person will also work closely with the AUL for Collections in carrying out collection development and other relevant policies.  

 

Rationale:  The process of acquisitions in this library, with over 150,000 monograph volumes and approximately close to 50,000 active paid serial subscriptions per year, as well as over 8,000 electronic journals, and a collections budget of over $12 million, demands not only a sufficiently large workforce to do the work, but a person in charge of these processes.  Various contracts, licenses, and other formal agreements need a faculty level person to deal with the complexities that arise from such arrangements. Also, as we move towards increased consolidation of technical services, the complexity of this position will also increase.  Therefore, interaction with the library faculty as a key component of this position demands a faculty level position.  The incumbent will also need a professional level understanding of the publishing industry, trends in scholarly communication and cataloging trends as they relate to acquisitions processes.

 

Coordinator of Intellectual Access Services

 

Description:  This position will provide integrated leadership for acquisitions, CAM (Content Access Management (metadata and cataloging operations)), and the OPAC records coordinator.  In addition, the incumbent will create and sustain key campus linkages as they relate to access, including with CITES, Educational Technologies, Student Services, and other entities as appropriate.  Furthermore, the incumbent will also maintain a close connection with all the Associate University Librarians (Collections, Information Technology, Services), the Coordinator for Information Literacy and Instruction, the Digital Learning Librarian, the Coordinator for Integrated Library Systems and the Outreach Librarian for Multi-Cultural Library services to ensure that developments at the campus level and within the library can quickly and effectively be transferred into all aspects of our technical processing. This would also involve absorption of some current technical services operations conducted outside the main acquisitions and cataloging departments and coordination with Law technical services.  The incumbent will also work with the managers reporting to him/her in developing appropriate measurement and assessment tools in order to have a data-based knowledge of current operations.

 

Rationale:  Oversight and management of CAM and Acquisitions itself demands a focus not only on personnel, but also on often detailed and minute processes and workflows.  The tendency to be blind to implications for service and access can often be reinforced as complexity increases.  Therefore in order to see the implications of changes in service needs or changes in available technology for our own internal processes requires someone who not only is familiar with those processes and workflows at a 100 foot level (as opposed to the managers of those activities who know it at a 10 foot level and the individual workers who know it at the 1 foot level), (AULs know a few of these at the 100 foot level, but as change happens, it usually is a view from the 10,000 foot level) but who is also attuned to the larger movements and developments on campus and beyond campus and who has the time to reflect on the implications of these developments.  Furthermore, this person must have the authority to implement changes that are necessary, of course in consultation with the librarians who report to him/her and based on data available through measurement and assessment.

 

Funding of these positions:

 

Acquisitions Librarian – This would be funded by the lapsing salary for the permanent acquisitions librarian and hired at either the Assistant or Associate Professor level.

 

Coordinator for Intellectual Access Services – This would be funded by the lapsing salary of Maria Porta, set to retire on September 30, 2006.  Maria is currently working on projects that are central to our serials control, but which should be completed by the time of her retirement.  In addition, this position may require additional funds from Library administration in order to meet any salary requirements of the person chosen for the position.  This position would be at the Associate or full Professor level and be a tenured member of the faculty.

 

 

Implications for Bylaws and Faculty governance

 

Technical Services can either retain the current paradigm of having an elected coordinator and alter its bylaws so that the divisional advisory committee deals with items just relevant to faculty governance, or adopt a new paradigm that recognizes the authority of the administrative coordinator, but also allows faculty governance of faculty issues.  In some respects this would be analogous to the current configuration of the Law division.