New content in “Documentation”

There’s been this line that says, “Watch this space,” in our Documentation page for a while, so I threw in some of my favorite cataloging links. It’s right up there under the header, with the HOME and ABOUT links.

Many of us rely on free resources for access to standards and guidelines. Thankfully, there is no shortage of good will in the library community; institutions around the world share a surprising amount of content freely.

We will certainly change the formatting and content on the documentation page in the coming months, so please let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see included. It would be great to see some sources for non-cataloging technical services work, too: acquisitions, processing, vendor relationships…

What are your favorite free resources?

Happy November!


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You know what I think? Lemme tell you what I think.

It’s a changing materials landscape out there, and it just ain’t gonna change back to what it was.


And if anything, the change is just going to accelerate – especially for the audio-visual parts of our collections.

Circulation of physical materials is down overall, and circulation of e-materials is up (especially those wonderful, and wonderfully expensive, e-audiobooks).  The PLDS report lays out that change pretty succinctly – as do the circulation reports for my own library, and almost undoubtedly for yours, too.

An almost certain accelerant to this change is the decision by retailers to cut physical copies of CDs from their floors. Earlier this year, BestBuy, one of the leading music retailers, declared they’d cut CDs out completely, with Target allegedly going along with them for the ride. This has since been walked back a bit, but the trend is clear, and my money is on it happening sooner rather than later. Bricks and mortar retailers are pressed enough as it is; they can’t allow anything that doesn’t pull a profit onto their floors.

This will undoubtedly lead to a trickle up effect on CD producers; having a major retailer (or two?) stop selling their product is going to have a definite dampening effect on their production of said product. Basically, this will just hasten producers’ migration to streaming their product instead.

And, oh, you know what else? The thought makes me shudder, but DVDs will be the next physical format to go. Not as soon as CDs, but it will be soon. There are already TV series produced by streaming services where no DVDs are being produced at all for libraries to buy (e.g., Transparent, GLOW).

So where does this leave libraries? Without physical objects to circ, what do we do?  Who ARE we?

Honestly, I think we’ve been pretty proactive in getting non-physical format alternatives for our patrons. OverDrive, Hoopla, Kanopy, Freegal. These are some pretty awesome resources.


There are still issues.

First and foremost: Do our patrons know we even have these kinds of resources? That they can use for FREE? Sadly for us – and them! – probably not. The infamous 2012 Pew study showed that few of our patrons know that we even lend ebooks, and a 2016 study, also by Pew, showed much the same.

What’s more, in the non-scientific but totally relatable realm: if your experience is anything like mine, you’ve actually schooled people – your friends! your family! intelligent, educated people! – on what the library has for them to access electronically, to their utter amazement and eternal gratitude.  (Quick, someone tell Panos Mourdoukoutas.)

Secondly, in a more collections-focused vein: some of the content still, well, not to put too fine of a point on it, sucks. Or at least it certainly does when it comes to video content. Right now there is no real product for libraries to purchase for their patrons that has the kinds of movies and TV offerings that Netflix, Hulu, and amazon do. Even in the audio realm, there are e-audio titles that we literally cannot get in physical OR streaming form that our patrons really, REALLY want us to have – and which they really, really can’t understand why we can’t do that. (Side note: explaining the intricacies of licensing agreements and audio rights to patrons is never, ever, a fun time.)

Another collections-focused issue is that many of these products come with per-use licenses. Budgeting for per-use products is almost impossible. Make one mistake on where to throttle content and either you annoy your patrons (the ones that actually know about the content and want to use it!) or, even worse, break the budget. It can be a terrifying line to walk.

So, what can we libraries do? To keep our relevance, to keep our patrons, to keep our FUNDING, in this time of patrons who embody an attitude of “if I can’t get it in under three clicks, without ever putting on pants or leaving my house, I’ll just get something else”? (BTW? Full disclosure: I am TOTALLY that guy. I understand lazy consumers because I am one.)

Well, we have to promote, promote, promote to our patrons and to our potential patrons. Work with your suppliers. They ALL have free marketing materials that they WANT to share with you. You do NOT need to reinvent the wheel. (OverDrive is like king of this; they have all kinds of ideas, including a new push to issue temporary library cards so that people can use their resources immediately.) Ask them what they have. Ask them what they can do to help you. Ask them what other libraries comparable to yours have done/are planning on doing.

Also, and this is certainly less fun than thinking up fun new places to market your resources, we have to work, work, work with our suppliers on getting better (yet still affordable!) content AND on devising more sustainable, less risky-to-the-budget, licensing models. This is going to be a process, and a long process at that. But to serve our patrons what they want to be served, where and when they want to be served it, it’s a process that we need to undertake.

So that’s what I think. Tell me. What do YOU think?


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Ohio’s Regional Innovative Users Group calls for proposals



The OH-IUG conference planning committee invites the submission of presentation proposals for the

OH-IUG Annual Conference, to be held on October 12, 2018 at the State Library in Columbus.

Guidelines for Presentations

1) Sessions will be approximately 50 minutes and should include a brief Q&A period at the end

2) Formats can include: presentation, panel presentation, guided discussion

3) Repeats of presentations from the annual IUG conference are acceptable

4) Presenters from other regional Innovative Users Group and surrounding states are welcome

5) The deadline for presentation proposal submissions is July 27, 2018

6) Topics of interest include:

  • APIs (Polaris/Sierra)
  • Basics of Polaris/Sierra/Millennium codes & tables, database structure
  • Batch loading/MarcEdit
  • Best practices for: circulation, cataloging, serials, acquisitions, collection development Millennium/Sierra/Polaris)
  • BIBFRAME or linked data
  • Circulation and circulation reports
  • Collection management and collection management reports
  • Decision making and assessment
  • Disaster prevention and recovery
  • Encore or Polaris Discovery
  • Hosted and cloud services
  • ILS migrations
  • Implementation of new products or processes
  • Inn-Reach
  • IT security
  • Loan rules/system cleanup
  • Polaris Statistics: Report Builder, Simply Reports, and SQL
  • Process workflows
  • Sierra/Millennium: Create Lists basics and advanced, tips and tricks, Enhanced/JSON
  • SQL Access and Queries (Polaris/Sierra)
  • Statistical reporting
  • System admin (Polaris/Sierra/Millennium)
  • Training tips and tools
  • WebPAC or Polaris PAC


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The Fine Art of Tweaking not Twerking Your Catalog

I don’t know about you, but I find it very frustrating when we run reports on books that are not circulating in our collection. Somehow, certain items never make the report but are always on the shelf. My “OCD” or “CDO” as I like to call it at times, sent me on a seek and find mission in our catalog. Oh what a fun challenge that was!

I wasn’t even sure where to begin. There are many reasons why our catalogs can become a real challenge. First of all, changing from the Galaxy system to the Polaris system caused issues because we were going from old school technology to new and improved online cataloging, which was a huge upgrade. Secondly, throughout the years there have been a few different catalogers working on records which can be like having too many cooks in the kitchen. In our defense, we are always striving to meet the needs of our patrons and staff. Sometimes that includes making new call numbers to satisfy new areas of interest or displays we are using.  Another issue occurs when people make changes to call numbers without going back and updating old ones. Without unification across the board, it causes confusion when running reports. I would like to share a couple of the things I am working on to update our catalog and make it more patron- as well as work-friendly.

The first thing I did was to check what call numbers were being used and do a lot of item bulk changes as well as adjusting bibliographic records to match each other. For example, we had holiday books two ways (E HOL FIC and E FIC HOL). These differences can make such a difference when running reports.

Sometimes that space bar can be a tricky little devil! If you bump it one time too many ….oh no! There’s an extra space added to the call number. I found this extra space will also throw off the reports.

Remember our job as catalogers not only entails entering the items, it also includes keeping the catalog current and easily accessible for our patrons! So I would like to challenge you to put on your headphones, twerk to some good jams, and tweak your catalog! See if you can find a way to improve your catalog!

-Kristi White, CPLS

Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County

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Put on your “thinking cap” for the Technical Services retreat

Librarianship is all about providing access to information. Getting caught up in the day-to-day tasks of Technical Services, it can be easy to lose track of that “bigger picture” concept.

So I’m excited that this year’s OLC Technical Services retreat (March 28-29, 2018 at the Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center in Lewis Center, Ohio) delves not only into topics related to our daily duties, but some philosophical concepts that impact our work on a deeper level. In addition to presentations on project management, acquisitions modules, vendor relationships, the NACO authority portal and cataloging realia, there are sessions on the ethical implications of decisions made in Technical Services, generational learning styles, and the important technical services/public services relationship.

Several sessions are also slanted toward special and local heritage collections–materials unique to their individual libraries. Programs explore creating and maintaining such collections, circulating those materials, and discuss digital forms of access via the Ohio Digital Network and the Ohio Memory Project. Opening keynote speaker Eboni Johnson will speak about her work as a field archivist in the Africatown area of Mobile, Alabama, empowering that community to tell its own story for future generations.

Terry Reese will close the programming with his presentation “Making the Choice to Be Relevant: Open Systems, Open Communications” about our reluctance to adopt the open source materials we often promote to our patrons and the consequences of that attitude.

The theme of the 2018 retreat is “Wearing Many Hats” but it’s also about exploring new perspectives about our daily routines. It promises to be a fun and informative few days and we hope you’ll join us.

— Barbara Satow

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RDA, LRM, and Agents in Wonderland

Illustration by John Tenniel

RDA Toolkit, the paid online portal to the Resource Description & Access standard, is undergoing its first major redesign and enhancement since the website debuted in 2010.  The RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign (3R) Project was first announced in October 2016, with rollout of the revamped site originally slated for April 2018.  But as can happen, “unexpected obstacles” have pushed the target date back to June 13, 2018, at the time of this post.

Beyond retooling the look and feel of the site, the 3R project is also expected to incorporate elements of IFLA’s Library Reference Model (LRM) into RDA standards.  One proposed LRM change gleefully anticipated by catalogers at my public library concerns the treatment of fictional characters.  Since 2013, RDA has permitted the names of fictitious and legendary characters to be used as “creator” access points in bibliographic records, a practice patently discouraged under AACR2 “main entry” guidelines.  In addition, under current RDA guidelines new and existing fictitious characters are established (or can be converted) in the name authority file in the same manner as real persons, using MARC 100 field rather than 150 with no special qualifier, to facilitate use of their names as descriptive access points.

While a welcome change in certain cases—think Geronimo Stilton—this has also resulted in lots of inconsistent copy cataloging and massive amounts of bibliographic and authority file maintenance to change entries.  One recent, dubious example was a change to author tracings for the popular “Dear Dumb Diary” series:

100  Benton, Jim [real guy]
650  Kelly, Jamie (Fictitious character)

was changed to:

100  Kelly, Jamie
700  Benton, Jim [despite the fact that Benton is still named prominently in the works]

In a nutshell, our best understanding in LRM-speak is that, come 2018, only “agents” may be authorized as creators, and only real human beings/persons can be agents.  (This relates to concepts such as “nomen,” “res,” and other Latin terms I swear we were trying to stop using…. )  There’s also speculation that authority records modified under RDA may need to be updated yet again, to ensure that a fictitious character is clearly identified as such somewhere in the authority record if they’re not a real human being.  Job security!

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to look forward to unwrapping the shiny new RDA Toolkit promised in 2018, and trying to figure out whether Bain or Fletcher really authored the “Murder, She Wrote” books.  Happy solstice!

– Michael Christian-Budd

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It’s Finally Fall and I’m Thinking Spring

The pumpkins are on our doorsteps, the kids are shuffling through the leaves to get to school, and here I am thinking about springtime.
Not for the reasons you’d think though.
Every other year OLC’s Technical Services Division offers a 2 day retreat filled with great food, exceptional keynote speakers, cutting edge programs, and lots of networking opportunities and March of 2018 is shaping up to be a stellar year.
The theme is centered around all the different hats we wear in Tech Services, and our focus will be on ethics, diversity, adaptability and resourcefulness in today’s library culture. Digitization, special collections maintenance, vendor relationships, project management, and productivity tools are just a few of the many offerings you’ll be seeing at the retreat.

So, now you know why I am so excited to be thinking spring while the pumpkin on my stoop is still (reasonably) intact.

There’s much more info to come on the OLC’s Tech Services Retreat, so stay tuned, but there’s nothing wrong with a little “forward thinking” right now.

Happy Spring!

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