ALCTS Creative Ideas in Technical Services Interest Group

Latest Discussion Posts

Please login to see all eligible discussion postings

Either the content you're seeking doesn't exist or it requires proper authentication before viewing.


  • Program Announcement: Annual 2019

    Attending at ALA Annual 2019? Please join the ALCTS Creative Ideas in Technical Services Interest Group, an open forum for discussion of all things technical services!  Everyone is welcome to participate in any of the 9 exciting roundtable discussions.

    Session details:

    Saturday, June 22

    4:00-5:00 PM

    Marriott Marquis, Scarlet Oak Room

    Washington, D.C.


    Save to your Scheduler here:

    We are proud to present the following discussion topics for our session at ALA Annual 2019:

    Topic: Technical Services for Data Management

    Presenter: Kate McNamara, US Census Bureau

    Summary: The discussion will focus on technical services librarians’ role in the data ecosystem. Data management is an evolving field and working with data often involves novel challenges for librarians. Catalogers, metadata librarians, and other technical services librarians must work across departments and disciplines to acquire, catalog, and disseminate data resources. I will share my experience as a librarian at the Census Bureau, where I work on documentation and metadata for administrative records data. This discussion will touch on workflows for data management and cataloging, training for data librarians, and collaboration around the world of data.


    Topic: Ethics of Cataloging

    Presenter: Jennifer Martin, Salisbury University

    Summary: Cataloging has always implicitly held itself to a standard of professional ethics: provide complete, accurate data that is useful to the user. Increasingly, though, catalogers are being challenged to not only make their professional ethics explicit but also to expand the scope of their ethical considerations to include broader ethical themes such as feminism, post-colonialism, and privacy. As a result, challenges to and critiques of established systems or aspects of systems are becoming more common and librarians must navigate situations in which their understanding of what is ethical conflicts with the practices in place, such as when the preferred name from the Library of Congress Authority Files does not match the name a person or group uses for themselves. This discussion will focus on the types of ethical issues encountered in cataloging, how those issues can conflict with each other, and how changes to increase ethical practice might impact the future work of cataloging.


    Topic: Empowering Through Staff Training and Team Skill Building

    Presenter: Jennifer Eustis and Meghan Bergin, UMass Amherst

    Summary: This topic aims to open up a discussion on how staff training and skill building workshops can empower both veteran and new staff in technical services and cross train staff outside of technical services on metadata and cataloging projects. Training and skill building occur frequently in and out of the office. At UMass Amherst, several staff have moved on, new staff have arrived, and the library is preparing for a migration to a new Library Services Platform. These changes have led to staff taking on new responsibilities and well as several cross training opportunities. Workshops have been recently offered to learn new software such as Outlook calendar, Trello, and Slack. Other workshops have been offered to prepare people to better their use cataloging tools such as MarcEdit and OpenRefine. Documentation has been updated or created to help staff learn new workflows such as cataloging music, updating local holdings records with OCLC, cataloging archival books, or how to handle batch loading.


    Topic: RDA toolkit redesign and LRM

    Presenter: Jessica Janecki, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University

    Summary: The RDA toolkit is getting an overhaul (! It is both an organizational overhaul as well as an integration of some new concepts from the IFLA Library Reference Model ( On April 30th a major update will be made to the Beta site, including a stable English language version of the text with the latest changes made to incorporate LRM concepts. By Annual we should have had a chance to poke around in the Beta Toolkit and maybe attend a webinar or two. Let's get together to discuss our impressions. What works? What doesn't? What questions do we have?


    Topic: Core competencies for technical services staff - how do we assess? how do we plan? how do we train?

    Presenter:  Lynn Whittenberger, NC State University Libraries

    Summary: There are a host of core competency documents that may (or may not) have relevance to technical services librarians developed by different library-related groups: NASIG Core Competencies for Electronic Resources Librarians; OCLC New Skillset for Metadata Management; ALA Core Competencies for Cataloging and Metadata Professional Librarians; and LLAMA Leadership and Management Competency, to name just a few. Most of these competency lists contain a mix of ‘hard’ and soft skills, and with some skills more specialized and narrowly defined than others. Deriving actionable plans for technical services staff training from these documents can be a challenge. Developing and delivering pertinent training for staff, both one-off and continuous, is also difficult. The group could discuss: strategies for identifying the competency documents relevant to one’s specific situation; ways to evaluate existing competencies in staff, and identifying gaps; developing strategies for delivering training, both short-term and long-term.


    Topic: Managing expectations while providing great customer service

    Presenter: Elizabeth Miraglia, UC San Diego

    Summary: Very often the work done in Technical Services goes unnoticed unless something goes wrong. It can be difficult to explain our workloads to other areas of the library and we also have a strong desire to provide excellent service to users and other library staff. Technical Services departments can also develop reputations for being the bottle neck for processes or for being too picky about certain details. As our field continues to grow and as the volume of work continues to increase, it is imperative that Technical Services departments be able to not only set healthy limits on what their departments can do, but also be able to explain the reasons for those limits and to re-evaluate past practices when the time comes.


    Topic: Collaboration across library departments to improve library services

    Presenter: Beverly Charlot, Jeam M. Charlot, and Rosamond Panda, Delaware State University

    Summary: Technical Services collaborated with departments in the library and university stakeholders to improve outreach and library services for nursing students. The project involved the development of a Nursing Students Resource Center, Nursing Subject LibGuide and catalog index to search/discover nursing materials located in the new resource center.


    Topic: Responsive Technical Services for Non-Roman Materials

    Presenter: Erin Grant, University of Washington

    Summary: Non-Roman language programs outside of the mainstream in academic institutions can be subject to rapid disruption as federal funding sources, students and faculty numbers, and institutional support fluctuate. How can technical services departments better position themselves to prepare for and respond to the cessation or addition of non-Roman language programs that result in changes to materials being collected?


    Topic: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Positioning, Collaboration, and Finding Balance Across Technical and Public Services

    Presenter: Jeffrey M. Mortimore, Georgia Southern University, Nikki Cannon-Rech, Georgia Southern University, and Sai Deng, University of Central Florida

    Summary: Technology, budgets, and library reorganizations have dramatically reshaped the roles of technical and public services librarians in recent years. Ways of collaborating across library units have changed as well. Together, technical and public services librarians are asking how we should position ourselves, seek collaboration, and find balance in our work. Drawing on participants' experiences, we will explore how engaging strengths and expertise across technical and public services, and partnering with students and researchers in scholarly communication practices, reframes librarian roles and contributes to well-rounded, impactful services for patrons. This discussion welcomes voices from across technical and public services.
  • Program Announcement: Midwinter 2019

    Attending at ALA Midwinter 2019? Please join the ALCTS Creative Ideas in Technical Services Interest Group, an open forum for discussion of all things technical services!  Everyone is welcome to participate in any of the 8 exciting roundtable discussions being held on Saturday, January 26th, from 4:30-5:30 PM in Room 2B of the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.  Add the session to your conference scheduler here:

    We are proud to present the following discussion topics for our session at ALA Midwinter 2019:

    Critical cataloging and faculty engagement

    Proposal by: Susan Ponischil (Grand Valley State University)

    Facilitators: Violet Fox (OCLC), Mira Greene (Rice University)

    Catalogers interested in engaging faculty can create opportunities. Critical cataloging looks at social justice issues and the ethical implications of our work. This framework can be incorporated as a critical theory into curricula in a number of disciplines such as Literary Studies, Gender Studies, Education, Sociology, Criminal Justice, etc. The Library of Congress Subject Headings create opportunities for engagement through discussions about biases and fallacies represented. An open dialogue about LCSH issues and how to address those issues through tools like the Cataloging Lab can be incorporated in to the conversation. This heightened awareness can translate into a better understanding of how to use the catalog, but also an appreciation for the focus librarians bring to conversations about discrimination and disparities.  Potential questions could include: Are there opportunities in your institution for this type of engagement? Is critical cataloging something you actively participate in? How? If you were to consider reaching out to faculty, which discipline would consider first?

    Understanding and Managing the Changing Landscape of Technical Services

    Facilitators: Dan Tam Do (University of Vermont) and Lihong Zhu (Washington State University)

    This roundtable discussion will focus on exploring current issues and trends in technical services, including the role of the manager or supervisor in addressing change. What are the major drivers of change in the current landscape of technical services? Here, the drivers of change refer to those factors which bring changes in the overall landscape. They can originate from the outer ring of the macro-environment or within the inner ring of the micro-environment. It is critical to understand the major drivers of change since they are likely to impact all aspects of technical services, including standards, best practices, technology, workflows, and staffing. Managers and supervisors in technical services are often responsible not only for these aspects of operations but also for maintaining awareness of the drivers of change, considering and communicating their potential impacts, and making decisions around change. This position brings a unique perspective as well as particular challenges, which will be explored during the discussion. Potential questions may include: 1. What are the major drivers of change in the current landscape of technical services? 2. What challenges do managers and supervisors face in meeting the upcoming changes in technical services? 3. What can managers and supervisors do to develop their technical services department into a learning organization that is not only keeping up to date with current issues and trends, but also continuously learning new ways of doing things?

    Embracing Technical Service's Public Service Role

    Facilitator: Jeffrey Mortimore (Georgia Southern University)

    The traditional distinction between the “front office” and the “back office” fails to align with contemporary technical services practice. Today, technical and public services personnel are equally involved in providing resources, services, and support direct to patrons, demanding communication, collaboration, and public service competencies library-wide. Drawing upon participants' experiences, this roundtable will discuss the importance of communication and referral skills commonly associated with reference and instruction to the delivery of effective technical services. What are the emerging points of contact between technical and public services, and technical services and patrons? What role has the ongoing transition to electronic resources played in changing or increasing these points of contact, and the need for technical services personnel to participate in their mediation? How do technical services personnel provide education, promotion, and support for library resources? What practices work well, and what can we do better? How does technical services’ participation in patron education and support impact technical and public services roles library-wide? Are traditional service models well adapted to emerging technical and public services?

    Tools and workflows for enhancing discoverability of linked data and other library resources on the web

    Facilitators: Theodore Gerontakos, Crystal Clements, Benjamin Riesenberg (University of Washington)

    Many libraries create linked data and local triple stores which, in turn, become additional library resources to expose to potential users. One goal for this type of resource is to make it discoverable directly on the web, often without intervening applications such as an integrated library system or a content management system. How have libraries dealt with this challenge? How are we publishing resources (including linked data and local triple stores) directly into the web and making them discoverable? Library metadata as linked data further complicates this effort because web searches customarily retrieve the resources themselves, rather than descriptions about the resources. We can use search engine optimization practices to make our datasets visible to web searches, but how do we present them to justify offering a dataset as a query solution? These problems can apply to any resource published directly into the web. A discussion of discoverability strategies for diverse resources, including but not limited to linked data resources, would make for an informative discussion. Potential discussion questions may include: 1. What work has your institution done to optimize discoverability of locally produced linked data? How has your institution facilitated the use of that linked data? How thoroughly was that data integrated with other web resources? 2. What can libraries do moving forward to enhance discoverability of library resources on the web? Has your institution considered SEO practices, Wikimedia, sitemaps, Something else? 3. How can institutions share workflows and knowledge as we explore this new territory? What are some ways for us to work together in order not to duplicate our efforts and to share what we learn?

    Team building in technical services: how to boost morale and motivate staff

    Facilitators: Laura Evans and Rachel Turner (Binghamton University)

    Whether it’s the constantly increasing number of projects, migration to a new system, or just the daily grind, sometimes technical services staff need a little motivation to continue working productively. A key component of being productive is healthy interpersonal relationships among staff members. If colleagues work well together, they are more likely to enjoy coming to work, collaborate on projects, and contribute to the work of the technical services department. This discussion will focus on creative team building ideas that can be employed in staff meetings, on special occasions, or day-to-day, that can help staff members become more comfortable with each other, boost morale and ensure that everyone feels like part of the team. Through our questions and examples, we will also explore the idea that team building exercises do not have to be all-day workshops or silly icebreakers, but can be engaging and encourage staff to think “outside of the box.” Discussion questions may include: 1. What team building ideas have you tried within your department? Were they successful? 2. In what contexts are fun or motivational activities appropriate? How do you keep these activities focused and productive? 3. How do you choose inclusive activities, or include staff members who are not comfortable with traditional team-building ideas?

    Technical Services in a Startup University

    Facilitator: Raymond Pun (Alder Graduate School of Education)

    As a librarian at a startup university building a library from scratch, I am interested in hosting a discussion exploring the intricacies, problems, opportunitities and expectations of startup culture can apply to library policies ranging from collection strategy to e-access to IT collaboration. The discussion will center on tools and resources that might make workflows much more streamlined in this situation. Some of these discussions and applications can also be re-directed or transferred to established institutions too. The challenge of working at a startup university is identifying the needs and priorities but how do you do that when everything is constantly moving, important, timely and urgent? This discussion will open up discussions on how workflows for technical services can be developed in these startup cultures: solo librarianship, librarians who transitioned from technical to public services, librarians who also serve as IT/academic writing support, and librarians who do not have any physical libraries to work in. Potential questions may include: 1. Think of several words of the word "startup" and write it down in the index card, we'll pass it around and take turns to read it. Is "startup" a good or not so good blend with academic/library cultures, why or why not? 2. If you didn't have a website, no IT support (or very limited), no collection policy, no library staff other than yourself and no collections (digital or print) so far but you do have a 10k budget line for library resources and university accreditors coming in next month for a visit, what are your first priorities and how would you plan this through? What scenarios can you take back from this experience as a technical services librarian? Where/how do you begin to purchase e-resources? 3. Has anyone worked in public services before? If so, what are your experiences having transitioned to technical services? What are some challenges, opportunities and benefits from such transition? Do you establish workflows differently based on your past experiences as a public services librarian?

    Evaluating Technical Services Operations

    Facilitator: Jennifer Sweeney (San Jose State University)

    Is your technical services operation as efficient as it could be? This session will feature discussion on how to assess processes and workload and identify inefficiencies to improve workflow, streamline processes, and identify best practices in selecting, ordering, purchasing, delivery, movement of materials throughout the library system.  Potential discussion questions may include: 1. Describe current movement of materials through your system (there will be a form for participants to fill out to help organize this information; facilitator will sketch out flowchart on easel pad). Also demographics: Size/type of library. Size of staff. Your role. 2. What is most challenging in your current workflow? 3. How could this be improved? 4. What are the barriers to making improvements in your process? 5. How might these barriers be minimized or eliminated?

    Collection Development and Interlibrary Loan Open Communication

    Facilitator: Alison Armstrong (Radford University)

    The Collection Development Unit has always tried to work in concert with the Interlibrary Loan Unit but being in different departments made cross collaboration difficult. In 2015, the supervisors of each unit worked together to develop a “Purchase on Demand” program. The Collection Assistant looked at books (and sometimes CDs) which had been requested multiple times and decided which titles to purchase to avoid the future need to borrow for our patrons. For titles that ILL could not find a copy to borrow, there were procedures for ILL staff to send the title to the Collection Assistant to potentially purchase to be placed on hold for the patron. Overall, this program has worked well and, above all else, it has led to a collaborative environment with better communication across departments.  Discussion questions may include: How do your ILL and C.D. departments/units work together? What do you see as impediments to communication between areas? Are there ways in which you can use clear procedures to achieve the desired result?

Latest Shared Files

Log in to see this information

Either the content you're seeking doesn't exist or it requires proper authentication before viewing.

Current Members
90 Members
community Admin
community Leadership
community Admin
community Leadership
community Admin