Tech Serv thoughts in September 2022

Reminder! OLC 2022 Convention and Expo is coming this month from September 28th through September 30th at Glass City Center in Toldeo, Ohio.  I have attended so many conventions and conferences over the years and I often hear that there is not much offered in the Technical Services area.  However, I find even when not explicitly labelled as such there are many offerings that support our area of work and expertise.  Looking at the workshop schedules and their descriptions allow me to see just how much there often is that applies to my job and responsibilities or would help improve me as a individual or general library staff member and coworker. 

Concerning this year’s Convention, besides the three outstanding keynote speakers, any librarian could benefit from a little self-improvement attending “Combating Implicit Bias and Microaggressions in the Workplace”.  Other workshops of interest to Technical Services could be “Exploring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion”, “Battling Burnout”, and “Introduction to Genealogy and Local History Resources”.  Also, due to the censorship debate all over our country workshops like “Libraries Have Never Been Neutral” as well as the general session on Thursday “Unite Against Book Bans Update” or Friday’s “Censorship and Book Ban Update” seem like winners for collection development and selection staff.  Since September is banned book month, topics and sessions like these are even more timely and appropriate.  Another self-improvement option could be “What does it mean to be a Public Servant in the 21st Century?”

We are all reading in the news more and more stories concerning censorship and requests to remove materials.  My library just experienced one recently on a foreign film.  Yes, it was everything the patron was complaining about but our Collection Development Policy supported us for keeping the item in the collection.  Even though the patron didn’t like it (and it was clearly marked with rating and descriptions on cover concerning all the topics he objected to), there are still patrons who would like it.  We had to explain ALA’s and librarianship selection philosophy in general and could use our CDP as Board approved backup on why we kept it. 

I have worked in public libraries for over two decades and will paraphrase the quote if “I don’t select or have something in the collection to offend everyone, then I am not doing my job.”  All points of view, topics and interests need to be included and it is our patrons’ choice to censor what they checkout, not their choice what others can check out.  I think libraries and librarians are more important than ever with the divisions in all aspects of American lives offering as much choice, diversity, and access to materials and ideas in our collections as possible.  Technical Services staff are the behind the scenes engineers getting these materials into the hands of our communities and we should be proud just how diverse our area is in the function and organization of libraries!

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Call for presentation proposals: OH-IUG

The Oiho Innovative User’s Group (OH-IUG) conference planning committee invites the submission of presentation proposals for the OH-IUG Annual Conference, to be held in person at the State Library of Ohio in Columbus, Ohio on September 23, 2022.

Guidelines for Presentations

1.    Full presentations will be 50 minutes including time for Q & A.

2.    Lightning Rounds will be no longer than 15 minutes to leave time for Q & A.

2.       Presentation formats include: Presentation, lightning round, panel session, or guided  discussion.

3.       Original presentations, test drives for next year’s annual IUG and updated recaps from the annual IUG conference or other regional conferences are welcome.

4.       Deadline for presentation proposal submissions is August 12, 2022.

5.       Submit your presentation proposal at:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfICny-1PLcl2jOR3S_6zeYFwrmZR8cmDI7dBN_M-tnlVCRCw/viewform

 Possible topics of interest:

  • API (Polaris/Sierra)
  • Best practices for: circulation, cataloging, serials, acquisitions, collection development (Sierra/Polaris)
  • Database maintenance and clean-up
  • Decision making and assessment
  • DEI Initiatives in technical and public services
  • Disaster prevention and recovery
  • Discovery (Vega/Encore/Polaris)
  • Implementation of new products ( Polaris/Sierra)
  • Innovative or alternative uses of system features or functions ( Polaris/Sierra)
  • Print Templates (Sierra)
  • Processes and workflows (automating, improving, enhancing, documenting)
  • Batch loading and MarcEdit tips and tricks
  • Reports and Statistics ( Polaris/Sierra)
  • SQL Access and Queries (Polaris/Sierra)
  • System admin (Polaris/Sierra)
  • Training tools and tips
  • WebPAC or Polaris PAC (redesign, enhancement)

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Reflections on the 2022 Technical Services Retreat

It has now been over a month since our Technical Services Retreat: Change. Adapt. Excel.

I must say, it was wonderful to see so many of you there.  The pandemic really put a kibosh on these types of gatherings, so being able to get together and talk about Technical Services stuff was great.  If you’re like me, things have felt a bit isolated ever since March of 2020.  I was very glad to have the opportunity to see in person folks whom I have only ever seen via Zoom.

Sandwiched between Wendy Barlett’s opening keynote, which really set the stage for what was to come, and Helka Casey’s engaging and funny closing keynote, were, as fellow council member Bobbie Partridge noted, a great “diversity of programs”.  I found it hard to choose which sessions to attend.  I really wish I had been able to attend more of them.

I heard from other council members that everyone seemed very engaged and interactive during all of the sessions.   It really did feel that everyone gained a lot from it all.

One program that I attended and really got a lot out of was “The Cataloger’s Toolbox”.  This unprogram was such a marvelous way to share and learn about different free tools out there for us to use.  It also allowed all to hear creative ways other libraries have dealt with pandemic related issues.  I have already used a few of the tips I learned.

When I returned to work after the retreat, I couldn’t wait to share with others in my department what I had learned.  I immediately downloaded the handouts from the sessions I attended, so that I wouldn’t lose access to any of these materials and so that I could share these with others.

These are some of my thoughts and takeaways; what are yours? 

Please feel to comment and share what you enjoyed and learned from the retreat.

And don’t forget that the Stegosaurus is the best dinosaur (according to Adam Marier), though I must say it was one of my favorites growing up!

Matilda Davis-Northrup, Upper Arlington Public Library

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Technical Services Retreat 2022: Change. Adapt. Excel

Join the Technical Services Division and Ohio Library Council for our biennial retreat! The 2022 Technical Services Retreat will be held in person in Columbus, Ohio on April 13-14, 2022, at the Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center. 

After a tumultuous two years of navigating and adapting to new circumstances and changing workspaces, let us take some time to reflect on some of the strategies and processes that have made our colleagues successful. The 2022 Technical Services Retreat includes programming

on cataloging tools and platforms, collection management and the community they serve, as well as sessions on virtual training tips and tricks, working with collections and book repair workshop! 

The retreat will open with Wendy Bartlett (CCPL) keynote about Technical Services rapidly changing environments in PIVOT: Change, Adapt, Excel! Helka Casey will close out the retreat with a presentation on Strategies for Self-Care and Avoiding Burnout, a 60 minute interactive session, to explore ways to approach changing workplaces and identify practical coping skills for our professional and personal spaces. 

We hope to see you there!

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New Beginnings

“It was the beginning of the greatest Christmas ever. Little food. No presents. But there was a snowman in their basement.” – Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief

Well, the frost is on the pumpkins and it’s the time of year to be thinking about new beginnings. OLC will be doing their part to get you off to a great start in 2022. The 2022 Technical Services Retreat is on April 13th and 14th at the Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center and it will be a wonderful opportunity to start your year off in a big way! Are you new to a task and need a little guidance, or are you a seasoned staffer looking for some tip and tricks? They’ll have it all and you’ll have a chance to see your colleagues! Registration will open on February 16th, so if you’re feeling like you’re ready for a new beginning, we’ll be ready to help!

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2022 Retreat – Call for Proposals

The Technical Services Division will be hosting a retreat April 13-14, 2022. Hopefully you have the date saved on your calendar. We are now asking for program proposals for that retreat. For further information, or to submit a program, please go to the OLC website. There is more information available there. We hope to see many of you next April as presenters or as attendees!

Call for Programs | Deadline: December 8, 2021

The Technical Services Division Action Council is currently seeking proposals for the 2022 Technical Services Retreat. This event draws a mix of public, academic, and special librarians, management and support staff, and library colleagues from Ohio and neighboring states. Breakout sessions are one hour in length, including some time for Q&A.

OLC welcomes all topics of interest to specific areas of technical services (such as cataloging, acquisitions, and processing) as well as topics focused on management and professional development. The sessions can take the form of a single or team presentation, hands-on workshop, panel discussion, or other formats suitable for effective content delivery in a 60-minute time slot. Some suggested topics include:

  • Changes and trends in technical services (What have you stopped doing? What are you doing differently?)
  • Hands-on workshops to gain or sharpen skills
  • Programming on personal and professional growth and self-care
  • How Technical Services can make library services and access to information more inclusive
  • Triage for damaged materials

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Upcoming Events 2021 to 2022

2020 was a very strange year, and 2021 has seen a continuation of the roller coaster ride of life during a pandemic. Hopefully we are beginning to see some signs of a return to “normalcy” which includes being able to travel and gather with our colleagues in as safe a manner as we can achieve. It is our hope that these upcoming events will give us a chance to learn and to connect with colleagues and friends from libraries around Ohio.

OLC Convention and Expo Oct 13-15, 2021 in Columbus

The convention will be here before you know it. If you are attending, please stop by our table at the expo to say hello. While you are there you can pick up a bookmark and a save the date card for our retreat next spring.
On Friday you will definitely want to check out the panel discussion titled “Sheltering, Surviving and Thriving in Place: A View From Technical Services.” Our esteemed colleagues will be presenting their panel during the first breakout session at 8:45 a.m. We hope to see and hear from you there!

Technical Services Retreat April 13-14, 2022 at Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center in Lewis Center

After cancelling our planned 2020 retreat, we are looking forward to the chance to meet up with librarians involved in the various branches of Technical Services in 2022. Our planning committee is hard at work setting up programs pertaining to all aspects of technical services. Our theme will be Change, Adapt, Excel: Technical Services 2022 and Beyond. Later this fall we will send out a call for proposals, but for now we hope that you will save the date for next April.

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Reflections on change

This month’s Technical Services blog will wax the philosophical rather than provide practical tips or theory.  I love details, organizing stuff and performing practical tasks but my literature, writing, teaching, and philosophy background makes me daydream and “think” too much on “life” and “work”.

Dealing with constant change can be viewed as evolution and progress or chaos and stress!  I choose to channel the energy of chaos into opportunities for progress and efficiency.  How we handle and perceive our surroundings will greatly affect our work life, especially during a pandemic.

In 2020 before COVID really took hold and everything shut down, already I was dealing with major changes in my Technical Services department.  In a matter of 24 hours my department went from three staff to one person…me!  I was already making major changes like re-thinking how much staffing the department needed, what vendor service enhancements could be delegated with beneficial cost and productivity improvements, and physically re-organizing the department’s layout. 

Just as everything was falling in place and test shipments implementing my improvements were on the way…BAM everything shuts down in 24 hours due to COVID-19.  Instantly, I had to figure out new, temporary closure procedures for the ILS and my department, maintain selection and ordering while working from home, increase our digital materials and resources, and try to keep our patrons engaged with access to materials.

Thankfully, not too long passed and we re-opened with curbside.  A month later we opened “new normal” operations which included reduced hours at our physical buildings, keeping curbside, and maintaining our growth patterns in digital materials and resources.

I did not panic or give way to the chaos.  I chose to stay focused and look at the positives of a better future and circumstances.  I decided to make my mantra be evolve and improve anything and everything for the future rather than focus too much on all the chaos around me or get stressed out.  I made sure to break everything down into smaller tasks and goals that steered me to the big picture goals just like the “before time.”

In the back of my mind, I knew public libraries everywhere were all together in this unique time in the world and so I knew I was never alone…someone, someplace, sometime was also experiencing all the craziness too.

I achieved lots of effective improvement during an ever changing time.  I focused on the work and tasks and daydreamed of a better future where I can vacation again.  My choice in how to react to the change and chaos allowed me to accomplish a whole bunch!  I would say my department runs better than ever and I am happier at work than ever before, which is saying something as I have always loved my job and work environment! 

When others were more stressed than ever, I was focused, calm, goal oriented, and keeping myself focused on positives not negatives.  I took this attitude and applied it as a manager to hire and train a new staff position. Overall, our patrons still had great service and access one way or another.  My library, my department, and myself evolved and made improvements and survived with all the chaos and change thrown our way.

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Lessons learned in Covid times – Tech Service edition!

In 2020, libraries made a hard right turn into the unknown — which came with its challenges, fears and most of all changes. So so many changes. In the past year, I have seen our Technical Services department lose 4 staff members to retirement, 3 of which occurred in my department in cataloging. For several months we only had one full time copy cataloger! What followed was several months of constant reworking of workflows to accommodate the losses, and slowly hiring new staff to fill the losses. 

Fast forward to today, I have spent the better part of the last 8 months training — Not only did I have to create a cataloging training from scratch, but I have been doing simultaneous cataloging training for 3 staff members to help fill our losses. And I am training to learn Acquisitions tasks too! 

Through a lot of testing and trying, here are a few of the lessons I learned along the way:

  1. Let seasoned staff do their thing

Our department clerks know their jobs better than I do, so let them do their thing. Create a loose schedule of due dates and check-in at the beginning and end of the week. This empowered our TS clerks to be independent, plan their own work and schedule for the week, and allowed them to troubleshoot problems, since my attention was divided. 

  1. Google Drive, your paperless and real time friend!

In this time of COVID, Google Drive allowed us to go almost entirely paperless — great for a time where we do not want to be sharing anything. It allowed staff to monitor each other’s work, see where staff was in a particular project, update documents as needed, and centralize information for the whole department.

Google Docs allowed our TS to create shared memos, track meeting minutes in one spot, and project plan. Google Sheets allowed our TS to create shared schedules, workbooks to track new staff training, and act as an “instant messenger” for new staff to ask questions in real time while also creating a log of Q&A’s they could go back and review. Google Forms allowed our Acquisitions department to keep track of periodical stats. Google Slides allowed our TS to create training presentations that could be shared across departments.  

  1. Try everything. Leave no workflow unchanged! 

Try everything. With fewer staff members and a 4+ month backlog of ordering, on top of a 3 week delay of material sent out from our vendor, our “normal” workflows kept changing, again and again and again! I am eternally grateful to our clerks who put up with the constant changes and took them in stride. Our primary goal was to get material out to our customers, as quickly as we could with reduced staff and reduced work hours. After several months of trying and feedback, we perfected a new workflow — that still has wiggle room to change! — which focused on the number of holds by a high to low system, so that we could move material to fill the most holds first. 

  1. There can only be one…Zoom link (Free Zoom)

Create one Zoom meeting for each staff member. Make the meeting 8 hours long so that two people can stay on for hours if needed. Adjust the meeting date to the very last day of the year, so that each individual meeting will remain under your “Upcoming” meeting tabs. Set up a waiting room in case you need an extra minute. Very helpful for check-ins and training, and you will not have to make a new meeting everyday.

*Note, using this method, if staff tries to get into the Zoom link before the host has launched the meeting, they will get an error message telling them that meeting isn’t schedule for that day!

**Note, And if you are using free zoom, once you get kicked out, click on the link again to get back in!

  1. Be kind to yourself, you are only one person

Reduced staff, social distancing, constant cleaning, masks, virtual meetings, months and months of backlog = burnout, stress, and the constant feeling like nothing will ever be done. It is a horrible feeling to feel like everything needs to be done and it needs to be done now. 

So stop. Ask for help if you need it. Make a checklist and commit to only completing one of those tasks today. Keep your email closed and check it on a schedule. Write down all your intangible tasks so that at the end the day when you say “I didn’t finish anything”, you can see all the work that you did that day. Take your breaks. Take your full lunch time. Ask for time off, as often as you can. There is truly nothing in my general job description and daily tasks that can’t wait until tomorrow!

Hope everyone is having a lovely May!

Christina Gaydos, Toledo Lucas County Public Library

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