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ALCTS Creative Ideas in Tech. Services Discussion Group report Cynthia M. Coulter - (319) 273-2801 09 Feb 1996 16:00 UTC


Approximately 95 persons attended the ALCTS Creative Ideas in
Technical Services Discussion Group meeting in San Antonio, Texas
at ALA MidWinter in January 1996.  The four topics discussed
included "Cross-Training,"  "Electronic Journals: Their
Acquisition and Retention," "The Interface between Technical
Services and Library Systems," and "The Impact of Electronic
Resources on Technical Services."  By far, the most popular topic
was the final one listed, with just under half of the attenders
participating in the discussion.  Following please find a summary
report of the discussion for each topic.  A fuller report will be
found in an upcoming issue of _Technical Services Quarterly_.

The most common complaint found in the evaluations for previous
meetings of this group is that participants wanted more time for
the discussions.  Efforts to find another time slot have proven
difficult, so this year's co-chairs tried something different.
Instead of using the last 10 minutes of the hour to allow each
table to report on its discussion, the co-chairs announced they
would send out a summary of the discussions to the same bulletin
boards and electronic lists in which they had originally
advertised the meeting.  The evaluations seemed to indicate that
the participants enjoyed having the additional time and did not
regret the reporting session.  As a result, this same technique
will be used again for New York and the Annual Conference.

The participants in the discussion on "Cross-training" noted
several highlights, including the fact that many different types
and methods of cross-training exist and that many efforts labeled
as "cross-training" would more appropriately be called "cross-
staffing."  They felt it was a more important concept now than in
previous years due to downsizing of library staff.  They also
noted the fact that both interdepartmental and intradepartmental
cross-training are equally important.

Participants also noted the importance of documented procedures
to aid in the training process.  That process, they noted, could
be a very formal process or could be established in an informal

The groups divided on their opinion of method of implementing
cross-training.  One group stressed the need to build consensus
for a cross-training program within the staff, while the other
group felt that it was important, and perhaps necessary, to
mandate the implementation of cross-training.  Such diversion in
opinion might reflect more on specific situations, rather than a
rule to apply to all cross-training.

The groups that discussed the "Acquisition and Retention Issues of
Electronic Journals" felt the question of how to make the
electronic journals accessible to the library's patrons a very
important one.  Both groups agreed that the Web seemed the most
logical site for those journals.

Most librarians reported that they used the same procedures for
electronic titles as they did for print titles.  However, they
also noted the constraints placed on access by publishers.
Sometimes the form of access can differ by the publisher offering
the source.  Additionally, they indicated that licensing, with
its unique problems, make the purchasing process more

Many of the librarians discussing the retention questions have
just begun to grapple with that problem and very few could report
decisions made.  The question of archiving, the method to use,
the person/s with the responsibility for archiving, and many
other questions related to retention still remain to resolve.
Participants also noted that the question of weeding will not go
away in an electronic environment and that new methods will have
to be devised to monitor usage of electronic journals to aid in
deciding what to weed.

Those groups which discussed "The Interface Between Technical
Services and Library Systems" stated that the interface and
relationship between these two departments can vary depending
upon the library's online system.  It can also depend upon how
"savvy" the technical services staff are in respect to systems
issues and how much systems staff know of bibliographic formats
and technical services processes.

These participants of this discussion also determined that
communication between the departments should be improved and
formalized in order to achieve success.  The systems staff need
help in developing priorities because their work is often driven
by software releases and upgrades.  There is also a need for
improved documentation.

The interface between technical services and systems staff
continues to be developed and shaped as libraries begin to build
and increase their systems staff.

Those groups which discussed "Impact of Electronic Resources on
Technical Services" determined that libraries are at different
stages in the process of cataloging electronic resources, in
deciding what to catalog, and in maintaining URLs for World Wide
Web sources.  The selection responsibilities are being handled by
teams, by committees, or by bibliographers.

Only a few libraries are currently maintaining URLs in the local
catalogs.  This work is being done by various library staff
members and some libraries are using link checking software.

Most of the participants' libraries had WWW home pages
established.  Again the staff involved in the process varies
among the libraries.

Libraries are at a transitional stage in terms of cataloging
electronic resources because traditional cataloging does not fit
with the new electronic resources.  Cataloging practices and MARC
standards are evolving to accommodate these new resources.

Electronic resources will continue to have an impact on technical
services in the future.  The organization and service of these
resources will continue to become more developed as libraries
have an opportunity to study them further.

Cynthia M. Coulter                           Marilyn J. Mercado
   ALCTS Creative Ideas in Technical Services Discussion Group