|Summary of This Year's OBS Survey
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Seventeen percent response. Chocolates as incentive. 314 surveys mailed out--54 returned: 5 firms; 3 county; 1 government military; 1 state; 2 law society libraries; and the rest of the surveys from academics. Job duties of those who responded were: 23 administrators/heads of tech services; 20 catalogers/serials/authority control; 2 collection development; 2 reference; 1 webmaster; and, 5 were a mix of everything. Length of years of librarianship for those responding was: 4 (1-3yrs); 6 (4-6yrs); 3 (7-9yrs); 7 (1013yrs); 24 (13-19yrs); and 13 (2050yrs)—the rest didn't fill in that category. Utility: 38 OCLC/WLN; 7 RLIN; 2 A-G Canada. Database/Local system: 25 Innovative Interfaces; 5 Notis; 4 SIRSI/Unicorn; 2 Endeavor/ Voyager; 2 EOS InternationalProfessional; 2 Best Seller; 1 Dynix/ Ameritech; 1 DRA; 1 Sydney Plus; 1 Horizon; 1 InMagic; 1 Total Library Computerization.
Investigate Merging With TS SIS
33 Yes, investigate; 14 Don't investigate; 7 unsure. Summary of comments representing OBS members who want to investigate OBS merger with TS.
Advantages of Merging
- So many OBS topics and members overlap with TS, the distinction and need for a separate SIS to cover online bibliographic services is no longer necessary. We could cover the needs of OBS via adding committees to TS/SIS if TS members approved all the by-laws changes, etc. We could also explore OBS-type topics and needs going to other SISs, such as sub-committees in Computer Services SIS, or Reference Services SIS.
- Merging would avoid scheduling conflicts during AALL annual meetings. Not just conflicts, but also the time pinch problems for members wanting to attend various tech services multiple meetings (committee and business meetings).
- It would save dues money for AALL members who feel the need to have representation in both TS and OBS.
- We would have a stronger, more consistent "track" for educational programs and services, since now it's difficult to differentiate between OBS and TS topics and services.
- Wouldn't spread ourselves so thin trying to manage the two similar SIS's.
- Meeting participants wouldn't have to give or listen to identical committee reports during the business meetings.
- The "systems aspects" of tech services is so pervasive that we can no longer view it as unique enough to be treated as a separate issue.
Disadvantages of Merging
- We've dealt with this two times before and each time membership has voted not to merge with TS. How many times do we have to go down this road?
- It would reduce the resources currently available to members who are not technical services "types" but who are interested in local systems, and other technologies which interface with law libraries.
- It would reduce the number of potential AALL educational programs in technical services areas by forcing OBS topics into the larger (more cumbersome?) TS/SIS.
- It would reduce another tech services related "voice" at the SIS Council and for other leadership roles in AALL.
- It would reduce the number of opportunities for tech services and others who may not be tech services librarians (but share online library database activities and interests) to hold an office.
- It would add several more layers to TS/SIS, making meetings even more crowded and business meetings even more pressed for time—it's already become too full. TS already has too many subgroups.
- It would reduce the total amount of revenue that could be spent on technical services related projects and disbursements for what used to be OBS meetings, special mailings, and educational programs. As a whole, law tech services librarians would lose a certain amount of potential spending money on themselves for professional development if OBS is dissolved— e.g. the shared grant monies for the OBS/TS Joint Research Grant Committee.
- OBS has enough uniqueness to keep it separate from TS.
Idea!! -- provide an open forum meeting time for OBS and TS membership at AALL in DC or Philadelphia, for face-toface discussion the pros and cons of merging. Also, before any merging with TS, we need a pre-determined goal first.
General OBS Comments
- OBS should push for more complete system coverage, where circ and reference and administrators can turn to for programs and services that help them keep abreast with system developments.
- OBS should be more proactive: things like getting OCLC to FULLY support and implement the rules and guidelines for LC's Rules for the Description of Loose-Leaf Publications.
OBS AALL Educational Programs
I know you've read Janet McKinney's TS survey results in the March TSLL. There are some program ideas in her list that could fall into the OBS arena. This is not new, in fact each year OBS and TS sponsored programs have had some overlapping topic areas.
Below is a bulleted listing of program ideas in the OBS survey. Each of these ideas will be reviewed and discussed as soon as Brian sends them to Ellen McGrath (the OBS Education Chair). Then we can further make decisions at the OBS Education Committee meeting in DC. If you proposed a possible program, you may be contacted to finetune the proposal either before July 17th or sometime during or after the DC annual meeting.
Before listing the actual OBS programs, below are some OBS program "concept" statements that were found. These can be addressed by the OBS Education Committee for some kind of report to the OBS Chair for further discussion by the OBS Executive Board.
Program "Concept" Statements--Big Picture Stuff
- Do we want issue oriented programming that generates debate and proposes solutions, or vocational programming which imparts specific skills to the membership, or both? If we want to focus on vocational programs, then we need more hands-on/laboratory settings rather than podiums and talking heads at annual meetings.
- We should address updating librarians' MLS degrees. We could look at SLA and ASIS offerings. It would be nice to see a rebirth of research in technical services as one focus as well as balancing the digital and print emphasis.
- OBS needs to have continuing programs on comparisons of local systems. This should be a yearly program with librarians discussing why they chose their new local system or chose to remain with their present system as it moves forward with enhancements. Perhaps a contributor for a TSLL column to keep us up to date on this OBS-related topic. [Striman note: the March/April 1999 issue of Library Systems is devoted to an "Annual Survey of Automated Library System Vendors..." published by Library Technology Reports, ALA--and would be the type of spring-board for a comparison kind of OBS program].
- OBS should consider developing and producing OBS programs which could be used as "packets" for members to use in regional meetings: using videotapes, audiotapes, print outlines, over-head materials, etc. for program road shows. This would be valuable for law librarians who aren't able to come to the annual AALL meetings.
The 5 program topics listed in the OBS survey are ranked below with the most desirable as #1 and least as #5:
#1 Integrating the electronic library; dept. coordination, workflow issues, collection development, choosing electronic resources to catalog, maintenance of URL links, review of contents.
#2 Maintenance and quality control of the local database while facing constant change, cutbacks, shortages of staff and growing demands of our time away from our duties.
#3 Multiple versions in the online catalog.
#4 Adding call numbers from the most recent LCC to OCLC/RLIN bibliographic records.
#5 Cataloging tools interfacing bibliographic utilities, such as the Cataloger's Desktop, and FTP toand-from the local system.
Other OBS Program Ideas--not in any order.
- Core competencies (Phyllis Post is already working on this).
- Integrating the electronic library. — "OBS should put a lot of energy into this."
- Information Architecture: Phase two—how are libraries doing it? This would be good for AALL in 2000. A follow-up on the Information Architecture program in DC.
- Reclassification of JX: panel of librarians who've "done it good."
- Systems and procedures for small to mid-size law firms.
- Collection development and electronic format: maintenance, cataloging, procedures and policies, and other issues.
- Using the Web to help with collection development.
- OPAC and patron use interface: getting a handle on what's confusing to patrons who use our OPACs: from reading bibliographic, checkin, course reserve and item records, to using full-text databases and launching to Web sites via the Internet.
- OPAC versus the Homepage.
- Second generation migration problems.
- MFHL MARC format for holdings and data: what is it? who's using it?
- Migration from one local system to a new one: planning and implementation and evaluation.
- Client-server issues: Z39.50 (this could be addressed by holding a teleconference-type workshop).
- Interlibrary Loan and bib utilities and local systems.
- Database maintenance issues as a result of changes in AACR2rev.
- Automating and developing the OPAC: for small libraries.
- Cataloging issues for non-OCLC libraries.
- Multiple versions: what it means for our patrons and for our online bibliographic system/s.
- Digitalization: developing a digital library collection.
- Systems fulfillment of aims of cataloging rules and OPAC displays.
- Metadata: law library applications: update and other issues such as staffing and standards. Good AALL 2000 follow-up program from the more introductory program that was in DC.
- Electronic library issues: panel of librarians who have developed policies and procedures that work.
- Refresher introductory cataloging for new law catalogers.
Previously Proposed OBS AALL Programs
9 OBS members reported that they proposed programs in the past 5 years. Brian has their names and will put them in the OBS Chair manual so we can begin to have a listing of "idea generators" who have proposed OBS programs.
Most Pressing Need & How OBS Can Better Serve Its Members--not in any order
- Need a *M*A*S*H* unit version of OBS/TS for law firm libraries.
- OBS act as a liason/voice to-and-from the bib utilities.
- OBS be a conduit for highlighting information by sifting out important information to share from the overwhelming mass of information about vendors, systems, etc.
- OBS provide a forum for introducing and discussing new trends and issues for online bibliographic services, like an information clearing house.
- Provide contacts with other colleagues.
- I liked this one, so I'll quote it. "I want standardized, accepted multiple version format and I want it now. We keep kicking this around but it doesn't seem to be normal or standard. I'm at a loss how to implement this and what MARC tags/fields are involved."
- Provide more information on capabilities of local systems.
- Give members more information about OPAC design and issues.
- More info for new catalogers and/or newly automated small libraries.
- Provide more contacts with the higher-ups in OCLC.
- Keep members more informed about changes in technology and better ways to use our local systems.
- Share information via continuing education with members on new trends in metadata, the Web, networking.
- More programs and articles in TSLL about system functions (other than cataloging).
- Solicit articles to complement the columns.
- Find an automation columnist.
- More on automation development and cataloging for small libraries.
- Add a features column (a regular column): "Migration Pitfalls."
- Include a "Desktop" features column.
- Keep the excellent articles coming!
- New format is great.
- Much improved. Looks very professional.
- One of my favorite reads.
- Add a "Hot Topics" column.
One Final Note
As I compiled the OBS survey results I was struck by how much time a lot you spent giving me (us) ideas and comments to improve and share our knowledge of online bibliographic services and systems. It's clear to me, as incoming OBS Chair, that we must investigate merging into TS/SIS with the eventual dissolution of OBS as a separate SIS. This will take a few years in my opinion and we must proceed carefully, looking at as many pitfalls as possible. As Anne Myers said in her OBS survey: "Rethinking structure and a strategic plan is fine, but not with a pre-determined goal of merging."