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ALCTS Role of the Professional Librarian in Technical Services Interest Group Community

In: ALCTS Interest Groups (Association for Library Collections & Technical Services), Professional Development, Technical Services

We had a two great presentations at ALA Midwinter 2016 from Sally Gibson and Denise Garofalo. Sally Gibson, Head of Cataloging, Acquisitions and Processing, Illinois State University presented on "Solution Creators: Enabling Innovation in Technical Services Departments". Denise Garofalo, Associate Librarian, Systems and Catalog Services, Kaplan Family Library and Learning Center, Mount Saint Mary College, presented on "Technical Services Librarians as Factotum: The Reality in a Small Academic Library".

The ALCTS Role of the Professional Librarian in Technical Services Interest Group (RPLTS IG) is seeking proposals for presentations at ALA Midwinter 2013, in Seattle, WA. RPLTS will meet from 10:30-11:30 on Saturday, January 26th at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel (Municipal Room).

All topics related to the role of the professional librarian in technical services are welcome, and presenters will be allotted approximately 15-20 minutes, with a short time for questions after the presentations.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to the following

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Online Doc RPLTS IG meeting at Midwinter in Boston: Minutes

by Robert Rendall on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

ALCTS Role of the Professional Librarian in Technical Services Interest Group (RPLTS IG)
Meeting, ALA Midwinter, Jan. 17, 2010, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
Theme: What is Technical Services?
Minutes by Jack Hall, co-vice-chair

ALCTS Role of the Professional Librarian in Technical Services Interest Group (RPLTS IG)
Meeting, ALA Midwinter, Jan. 17, 2010, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
Theme: What is Technical Services?
Minutes by Jack Hall, co-vice-chair

Co-chair Robert Rendall welcomed the attendees and briefly introduced the Interest Group.  The IG aims to offer a forum for professional librarians at all levels and from all types of libraries to discuss their professional roles with a group of their peers.  Some meetings have a kick-off speaker, but this meeting, like last winter’s, was designed to be a free-form roundtable on a general theme, with time left before the end for any other topics attendees wished to discuss.

Co-chair Sandra Macke introduced the theme of this meeting: What is Technical Services? Attendees were asked to introduce themselves and to describe briefly the organization of Technical Services in their library.  There was considerable variation among the institutions represented, which were mostly academic although there were also attendees from a state library and from the Library of Congress.  Cataloging, Acquisitions, and Serials were usually included in Technical Services, though not always in separate departments.  Some institutions also include any or all of Systems/Information Technology, Collection Development, Preservation, and Access Services within Technical Services.  

The theme sparked lively discussion, with attendees describing not only their library’s organizational structure but also workflows and the issues and challenges encountered in their institutions arising from the organization of Technical Services.  Attendees shared advice and suggestions on how to deal with such challenges.

The following were some of the topics discussed:

One library was about to undergo reorganization of Technical Services, and an interesting factor there was that Acquisitions staff expressed an interest in having their unit transfered from Technical Services to Collection Development.  Attendees were asked to share opinions on why or why not Acquisitions should take that step.  One attendee felt that Technical Services, including Acquisitions, is more “process oriented”, whereas Collection Development is not as process oriented.  With the traditional three areas (Cataloging, Acquisitions, and Serials) all located in Technical Services, managers have more flexibility in redesigning workflow and reassigning staff than they would have if some of the staff performing those functions were outside Technical Services.  Also, all of the traditional three areas work more closely with the staff modules of the shared integrated library system than Collection Development does.  On the other hand, both Acquisitions and Collection Development work closely with the budget.  

One attendee brought up the possibility of sharing cataloging at the consortial level, using one shared database, and there was discussion of the potential advantages and challenges of such an arrangement.

An attendee brought up the issue of the degree to which Technical Services work needs to be performed by MLS librarians as opposed to support staff.  This became a major topic of discussion and occupied most of the rest of the meeting time.  Administration tends nowadays to urge that more and more work traditionally done by professionals should be reassigned to support staff.  Some factors they point to in support of this shift of responsibilities are increasing budgetary  constraints in the face of the growing cost of acquisitions (especially for materials in electronic format), and increased access to outsourcing, which can include OCLC itself, but also more work outsourced to vendors.  Attendees were asked to what extent and how we can argue for continued participation by MLS librarians in Technical Services work.  Some of the responses included: librarians and staff often differ in how they view their jobs as careers, and their commitment to them, although this can vary by institution; more can be cataloged by vendors, but higher-level staff need to establish parameters for quality, and monitor that work; professionals need to articulate the value of Technical Services and of MLS librarians to the administration and the parent institution/university; one can cite the library’s fiscal responsibility and the necessity to satisfy the parent institution’s auditing policies as a critical factor in Technical Services work; professionals can better work with the university’s faculty in providing metadata for their work; professionals are more trained for leadership, project management, and for “thinking outside the box”; Technical Services needs to articulate the value of their work to enhance “discovery” of the library’s resources.  

The last few minutes of the session were devoted to the IG’s business meeting.  Robert asked for suggestions for future topics, and these included the changing role of the MLS librarian in an environment with increasing outsourcing, developing leadership skills in Technical Services, and Investigating new technology.  Attendees were also invited to suggest or volunteer as kick-off speakers for future meetings, and the chairs will keep in contact with everyone who attended this session as they develop plans for the next IG meeting in Washington, DC.

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Provides a forum to discuss informally common problems concerning aspects of professional activity, both supervisory and nonadministrative, in technical services.

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