Stephen M. Brooks's blog

Technical Services-Public Services Partnerships

There are a few things that came up recently, which got me thinking about technical services' relationships with public services. First, I was reading Lihong Zhu “The Role of Paraprofessionals in Technical Services in Academic Libraries” (Library Resources & Technical Services, v. 56 no. 3, July 2012), which addresses the expanding responsibilities of paraprofessional staff and acknowledges that today's technical services paraprofessionals perform duties that for decades were the exclusive role of full-fledged librarians. Subsequent conversations with my staff about approval plans, budgeting and standing orders have blurred the demarcations in our library between technical services staff and public services staff in the area of collection development. Finally, we're developing a subcommittee of our Collections Steering Committee to review the shared acquisitions workflows between subject librarians and our department, Monographic Services.

Recap of Triangle Research Libraries Network Annual Meeting 2012

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you already know the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) includes libraries at four universities in North Carolina: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University and Duke University. As library consortia go, TRLN is far more than just a buying club and its members share a common discovery layer to their catalogs, but they do not share an ILS. TRLN also hosts numerous events throughout the year, including the TRLN Management Academy, Research Forum and—the topic of today's post—an annual meeting.

The annual meeting on Friday explicitly did not include discussion of each member library's annual report, which we in the audience were directed to find on the TRLN web page. Instead, this is one of many opportunities in the Research Triangle to attend a library conference with compelling programming. The entire meeting agenda is here. I'll recap the keynote and one breakout session (Librarianship in an Evolving Legal Environment) here.

Piloting a Consortial Print and E-book Big Deal

In February of this year, Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN)—whose members include the libraries of Duke University, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—embarked on an e-book Big Deal in a three-way negotiation with Oxford University Press and YBP Library Services. By the end of June, the pilot project was in place.

Library Assessment from an Acquisitions Perspective

Assessment has become a major theme at our library and at libraries across the United States. At UNC the library's User Feedback & Assessment Committee has done a great deal of outreach to other library committees and departments of the library to emphasize the importance of assessment, collect data related to assessment and to assist with and participate in projects that are designated as assessment projects.

This month department heads at my library are being asked to complete an “Assessment Questionnaire.” Given a definition of assessment as as “the process of gathering and using evidence to identify needs, make improvements and demonstrate value,” the questionnaire instructs us to “think expansively” as we consider in what assessment projects we are engaged or what projects we'd like to undertake. What does assessment look like in the Monographic Services Department?

Fiscal Year Planning in Libraries

Well, my library's budget isn't spent yet, but we are at that point in our fiscal year—almost at the end—when we lose any money that hasn't been spent from the funds we receive from the state. Our state funds expire on June 30, as with many public-supported organizations in the United States. Libraries have many ways of dealing with end-of-fiscal year deadlines. Some libraries may try to order exactly enough resources during the year to match their budgets, stopping early enough in the year to reconcile every order and find replacement requests for any funds previously committed to orders that had to be canceled, or to cancel orders if they have overcommitted their funds. Other libraries continue ordering through the year, but become selective in what they receive so close to the deadline, so as to match closely—even within pennies—their allocations. Meanwhile, they let open orders stay open and assume that they will receive sufficient funding in the next cycle to cover the unfilled orders. The size of a library's budget and the confidence it has in continued funding are two factors that determine toward which end of this spectrum a given library goes.

Addressing Shifting Workloads in Library Acquisitions

I write a lot about the changing nature of library acquisitions. Whether we feel like we're perpetually in transition, or trying to anticipate what the next big purchasing model is, what challenges new formats present in acquiring them, the variables library acquisitions departments face stretch beyond staff departures and new hires. Hot on the heels of completing staff evaluations, at my library we begin updating work plans, which guide our staff in their jobs for the next year, June through May. To inform these work plans, we consider workload distribution, department mandates, individual staff skills and a logical collection of responsibilities within each position, which should all add up to doing the work that is required of the department.

Evaluating Staff Peformance in Library Acquisitions

As the book ordering rush dies down in April, urgent requests for reserve reading wanes in May and we finalize our library's “big ticket” purchases with whatever funds remain at the end of the fiscal year, I have a chance—nay, an imperative—to reflect on the past year and see where we stand as a department. The primary imperative in this case is that staff evaluations are due at the end of May and new work plans for the same staff are due at the end of June.

Decision in Cambridge University Press v. Becker (a.k.a. “the Georgia State Copyright case”)

U.S. District Court Judge Orinda Evans ruled on May 11 that, in all but five excerpts, the publishers SAGE, Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press did not show sufficient evidence that Georgia State University violated copyright in making content available for classroom use via e-reserves. When this suit was filed in 2008 and eventually brought to trial last spring, publishers accused GSU of copyright infringement related to excerpts of longer works that Georgia State had made available online for its students as assigned class readings. GSU changed its copyright policy in response to the lawsuit and invoked fair use in its defense of the infringement claims.

Recapping the 2012 J.Y. Joyner Paraprofessional Conference

I gave a talk on Friday at the Joyner Paraprofessional Conference, titled “From Paraprofessional to Professional: Tips for Making the Transition in Technical Services.” This was the ninth straight year that Joyner Library at East Carolina University has hosted the paraprofessional conference and my first year attending.

The paraprofessional conference is the only one of its kind in North Carolina; by my very rough estimate, about 100 people attended. ECU is quiet during the intersession and the conference takes over the library; presentations are in open spaces, Technical Services and other parts of the library. This year's theme was “Cyborgs in the Stacks.” The morning schedule included a networking breakfast, keynote address and two sessions of breakout talks, with plenty of time in-between sessions for finding restrooms or chatting.

The Evolving Role of the E-Book Vendor, Part II: Phoenix or Dinosaur?

Last week I posted about how library book vendors have had to change their sales models to accommodate e-books. Grounded in book sales, book vendors' databases are structured around the book in all its formats: paper, hardcover and various e-versions, which makes this transition logical. This week I incorporate subscription vendors' services, which are germane to the e-book question, and ponder who is better positioned to assist libraries with their e-book management.

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