The TS-SIS annual survey was conducted in early February. The 88 respondents answered questions and provided comments about annual convention programs, the SIS, Technical Services Law Librarian (TSLL), the SIS website, and had the opportunity to volunteer for committee assignments, offices, and TSLL assignments.
Stripped of the mathematical calculations, the overall impression is one of satisfaction, with many very positive comments about particular activities, and some concerns. What we do we do well. We can do more, and members provided valuable suggestions that have been passed on to committee chairs and other board members.
The first section dealt with programs at the Orlando conference, upcoming programs in Seattle, and proposals for Boston programming. The Orlando program which most respondents indicated they attended was "Publication Patterns." The program ranked most relevant by attendees was "How to Avoid 'Search Reopened' and Hire the Right Technical Services Candidate the First Time Around." As will be seen in the balance of this report, managerial issues are a significant concern of those responding to the survey. If indications about attendance are any indicator, those allocating rooms for Seattle programs will need large facilities for the programs on "Integrating Resources" and "Managing Support Staff in Technical Services." Over sixty of the respondents indicated they would attend each of these programs. These two were also the highest ranked on the relevancy scale. Also high ranked were the programs on FRBR and "What's Happening at ALA: CC:DA and SAC Reports." Suggestions for the Boston conference were based on topics submitted to the Education Committee and ones generated in its Wednesday meeting last year. None had the relevancy averages of the Seattle programs, and the highest rated one was the proposal on the recent AACR2 rules revisions. The written comments about Boston proposals comprised the most extensive comments of the survey, and will be passed on to the Education Committee chair, Jean Pajerek. The rotating schedule of cataloging workshops has the advanced cataloging workshop this year, and so a basic cataloging workshop is next. The suggestion that these, or other programs, be offered in regional locations, not only affiliated with the annual conference, was put forward. More than one comment was made throughout the survey about the time and money commitments that cause individuals to be unable to attend the entire conference, let alone a workshop before or after in addition to the days of the conference.
The next section of the survey involved the SIS activities and products. TSLL received the highest marks on relevancy, closely followed by the educational programs at the annual meeting. The electronic list also was well supported. Lowest ranked were the promotional giveaways and the TS-SIS brochure. Grouped closely together, with an average between 2.0 and 2.5 on the 3-point scale, were the relevance of the website, official representatives, pre-conference workshops, and the joint reception. Written comments near the end of the survey on how the section could better serve members expanded on the marks received here. One comment supported regionally provided educational programs, noting that "Many grass-roots catalogers and TS supervisors will never be able to attend a national conference." Perhaps one suggestion would be to work with regional associations to provide a program at their annual conferences. Another comment praised the importance of the roundtables at the annual meeting, noting that they can be more important than programs. The ongoing work on providing more time for SIS meetings becomes more important when one realizes how many ways we receive information at the convention that is relevant to our jobs.
The next section of the survey solicited written comments about the TS website and asked members to indicate what was liked and what changes would be desirable. Positive comments noted the ease of use and ready availability of information sought. Access to TSLL, the survey, and useful information also were noted. Improvements suggested included notifying members of changes via the e-mail list, since not everyone regularly checks the site. This kind of reminder could also build the value of the site itself. As the site grows, one member sugggested grouping content "to create a clearer presentation." As is true of any web product, balance is an issue, with some members asking for a more visually interesting appearance, and others liking "its clean, straightforward look." Comments have been forwarded to the board and the webmaster, Martin Wisneski, whose work also elicited several positive comments. Five individuals indicated they were willing to create/maintain web content. Their names have also been forwarded.
The next section dealt with Technical Services Law Librarian, the section newsletter published with the On-Line Bibliographic Services SIS, under the editorial direction of Joe Thomas. It is clear from both the numerical evaluations and the written comments that TSLL is an incredibly valuable part of the SIS activity. The Serials Issues and Serials columns were the highest ranked, with Classification, Description & Entry and the Internet columns also ranked high. One respondent called it "the most wonderful benefit I receive from being a member of the SIS. It is consistently timely, full of cutting edge information, written by knowledgeable and experienced TS librarians." The delay in publishing the first issue of the current volume was a concern, because of the value of what is published. One suggestion was to make a PDF version of the newsletter available. One can access this already, from the general line for TSLL on the website, rather than from the individual issue entries. For those of us whose copy becomes the library copy, this does make saving or annotating individual articles easier. Again, comments have been passed on to the editor and the SIS board.
The next section came from the OBS survey (one might say brazenly lifted), in conjunction with the movement to expand the time available for meetings that we value but have difficulty scheduling and attending. One possible way to expand the available slots is to allow us to schedule committee meetings or other activity at the same time as business meetings of the "Type of Library" organizations, such as ALL or SCCLL. Thirty respondents indicated that they attend at least one of these meetings, 37 rarely do so, and 14 indicated that they attend sometimes. As to the possibility of holding committee meetings on Wednesday, 65 indicated support, 12 said no. Comments from both groups indicated concern for the length of the conference already and stressed that morning meetings on Wednesday could work. One respondent noted that the attendance at the Wednesday afternoon 30-minute programs could give some indication of the possibility of moving meetings to Wednesday morning.
Comments on the SIS strategic plan dealt most with the need for training. Mounting material on the website, regional training programs, and having the plan serve as a base for our conference proposals were all suggested. The suggestion that the plan needs to be completed and implemented was also made.
Comments about how TS could serve its members better have been worked into previous areas of this report. Specifically here, though, were comments about increased communication from the board, perhaps through the e-mail list, about section activities. Also addressed were the work we do with other SISs by way of joint committees and liaisons. While we are a distinct part of the overall association, we are not exclusively so, and our joint activities in the past have served us well. The interdependence of the various parts of the association is evident when we see TS librarians serving at all levels of the association, and see how involved the more than 600 of us are.
The final area of the survey dealt with volunteering. Perhaps this area should be the first thing one can answer when filling out the survey. Volunteering is something we do despite the demands on our time, and because we recognize the value—to ourselves and to the SIS. Thanks are expressed to the several who indicated a willingness to serve on committees. These names have been forwarded to committee chairs, along with a note about those who volunteered for more than one committee. Only seven individuals indicated a willingness to run for an elective office, most for member at large, and two respondents indicated a willingness to be more involved with TSLL. Again, thanks to those who did so. Arm-twisting phone calls will be coming up.
Thank you to those who participated in the survey. I encourage more of you to do so. The ideas we express help each other and make us better librarians.
Gary L. Vander Meer
Vice-Chair, Chair Elect