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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Quarantine Catch-Up

Like many librarians, I was temporarily laid off due to Covid-19. As the Acquisitions Librarian for my county library system’s adult collections I’m the only person selecting and purchasing physical materials. For six weeks any new publications passed me by and all of my carts sat stagnant. When I returned to work not only did I have titles from March waiting to be purchased but I had a black hole of items not yet even reviewed. And also I had my budget cut.

I felt like I was continually backlogged for the next six weeks, once I began working again. I was also selecting items under the unfamiliar stress of potentially not being able to afford what I had in the past. After doing my job for 4.5 years this new learning curve was bizarre, and it’s not over.

How do I gauge demand for the rest of the year? For 2021, because I must make that budget before this year’s end? Use of libraries is so limited, holds demands are down, and browsing isn’t even a possibility at every library in the state. Trying to maintain a diverse collection and supply higher demand items is a balancing act made anew with today’s restraints, and I have a feeling I’m going to be on this ride for months and years to come.

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The Numbers Game!

Let’s play! 

An ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a controlled identification number (10 or presently 13-digits) which allows libraries, publishers, educational institutions, and, vendors, to identify specific books and book-like things.  Now, challenge yourself with some finer points.  Statements are True or False. Test your awareness before reading the remark that follows.

1. An ISBN validates that the book has been copyrighted.

ISBNs are administered by a private company for the purpose of book trade. Copyright is administered by Library of Congress and relates to intellectual property law. (False)

2. Self-published materials should have ISBNs.

ISBNs are considered to be essential, if the author intends to offer the book for distribution, purchase or placement in a library. (True)

3. 13-digit ISBNs will always start with “978”.

In 2007, ISBNs changed from 10-digits to 13-digits.  The 13-digit ISBNs all began with the number sequence “978”. In 2020, Bowker, the primary U.S. source for ISBNs, no longer has sets (or blocks) of 978 number sequence identifiers available. So, Bowker has started issuing ISBNs beginning with “979”. Publishers, however, who had acquired blocks of “978” numbers previously and have a good supply of them on hand, are likely to be using them up for a few more years.  (False)

4. Different forms of a book can all share the same ISBN.

Each format needs a unique ISBN, whether it is regular print, large print, or an audiobook. A book translated into a different language needs a unique ISBN.  New editions of books need different ISBNs also.  (False)

5. A book that is going to be reprinted by a different printer and distributed by a different distributor needs a new ISBN.

 A book with no significant alteration to the text may be reprinted and distributed using the original ISBN, even if the printer and distributor change. (False)

6. ISBNs can expire and be reused.

ISBNs never expire and are not intended to be reused. (False)

7. DVDs can be issued ISBNs.

If a DVD is instructional or educational, then the DVD is eligible for an ISBN.  If the DVD is for entertainment or performance, then technically, it should not get an ISBN.  Sometimes the retail market persuades publishers to bend on this in order to manage product identification. (True)

8. An ISBN on a book is the same thing as its barcode.

Although you may see the ISBN printed above a barcode, they are not alike.  The barcode is derived from the ISBN (which is a constant) and can also include pricing and currency form (so this portion can change).  (False)

9. ISBNs can only be purchased from Bowker.

 ISBNs are used throughout the world.  Countries have different systems for issuing them. In the United States, ISBNs can be purchased directly from Bowker (starting at $125 each and getting much cheaper in bulk). Private publishers also can purchase ISBNs in blocks or sets from Bowker and administer their use.  All titles and ISBNs must be registered (through Bowker). Barcodes can be obtained after title/ISBNs are registered. Amazon issues free ISBNs for print material that they publish; however, they also impose further restrictions the material usage. ISBNs issued by Amazon for print material also have a matching ASIN, or Amazon Standard Identification Number. (False)

                How did you do?  It’s always fun to gather new information! And, speaking of fun and new information… remember that the OLC Technical Services Retreat is coming up April 15 and 16th , 2020  in Columbus.  Hope to see you there!

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2020 Technical Services Retreat: Moving Forward with 2020 Vision

You’re invited to join your colleagues for the Ohio Library Council’s biennial 2020 Technical Services Retreat, an educational event that strikes the perfect balance between the big picture and focused, practical topics.

Libraries focus on offering open and affordable access to resources despite changing budgets, expectations, and environments. The 2020 Technical Services Retreat will highlight innovative approaches, clear visions, and fresh perspectives for the future.

This two-day event draws technical services specialists from libraries and related organizations to learn, share, and network in a relaxed and productive campus environment.

2020 Technical Services Retreat: Moving Forward with 2020 Vision
April 15-16, 2020
Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center (Lewis Center)
Columbus, Ohio

Registration Fees:
Member: $235 | Non-member $470 (Registration opens Feb. 19, 2020)

Continuing Education Credits: For those working toward their Ohio Public Librarian or Ohio Public Library Staff re-certification, this two-day event counts as 12 hours of credit.

The Retreat is sponsored by the OLC’s Technical Services Division:

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Graphic Novel Call Numbers

I am wrapping up purchasing for the year so I did a big graphic novel order last week. This is a collection that I’m feeling really good about lately because a member approached me this fall when I was covering the reference desk and raved to me about Medina’s graphic novels. She told me she tells all her friends to come here for these items, and she and I bonded over the fact that there are so many amazing graphic novel biographies, memoirs, and diverse stories these days. Then I told her that I am the person responsible for selecting all titles in that collection and to let me know if there’s ever something she’d like to see added, and she pretty much melted into a puddle of joy and gratitude. The point is this was a truly life affirming moment and I may have shed a tear like a proud mama in the privacy of my office.

Circling back around to my grand intention here, I do still have some personal questions about cataloging graphic novels.

When I build a cart for a graphic novel order in Bibz I manually type in the call number so that what I have chosen comes processed correctly on the spines of these items. For series the call number will be, for example, “GRAPHIC SAGA” or “GRAPHIC BATMAN.” For all other standalone titles I assign the author’s last name: “GRAPHIC WILLIAMS.”

To make this collection as accessible as possible (and maintain my own personal glow from that praise I received) I’m wondering if there’s another way y’all assign call numbers for graphic novels. I’m a big fan of simplicity so I’m not wont to create too many rules, but I’m interested in others’ ideas.

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