NETSL At Burlington, VT

The New England Library Association recently held its annual conference in cooperation with the Vermont Library Association, entitled “Navigating the New Normal”, Oct. 2-3, 2011. NETSL, the New England Technical Services Librarians, sponsored three programs this year: Mysterius The Unfathomable: RDA Cataloging at the Clark, The Miscelleny Collection at Tufts, The Future is On Demand: Just In Time and Patron Driven. The materials can be found at NELA’s page for conference materials. All of NETSL’s programs took place on Monday at 8:30, 11:30, and 1:30.

  1. “Mysterius the Unfathomable: RDA Cataloging at the Clark”, Presented by Christopher Geissler and Penny Baker.
The Clark Art Institute was one of the formal test participants of the official RDA Test held by the 3 national libraries: the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, National Agricultural Library. For a complete list of the participants, see During this presentation, the presenters shared their experience of the RDA test. The presentation began with a short introduction on the “birth” of RDA, which believe it or not has an article page on Wikipedia. Then, the presenters talked about how they prepared for and completed the test. It concluded with their general impressions on RDA. The Clark began preparing early for the test. Staff came together informally to work on the draft of RDA and get a sense of what would change or not. Then, staff meet formally at a one day formal training from the Library of Congress. Training continued informally and formally. As a test partner, Clark had access to “Basecamp”, a content management system that facilitated communication between formal testers. Not all the staff participated in the test. However, those that did found that many of the surrogates sent for the test were not the type of items that the Clark would normally catalog. It was really at the end of the test where staff played with RDA records for unusual items like a salami. Yes, that’s right, a salami! The record in RDA for this salami can be seen if you click here. Unfortunately, the presenters said that the salami itself has gone missing. In short, Clark staff involved in the formal RDA test noticed several things. There were more changes to authority records than bibliographic. Results from the surveys indicated that people found that the RDA records don’t look much different from the AACR2 ones. The lack of GMD didn’t seem to bother anyone. Consequently, the Clark continues to do originally cataloging in RDA and receive feedback from Judith Kuhagen on their authority records.
  1. “The Miscellany Collection”, Presented by Alex May and Alicia Morris.
The Miscellany Collecton at Tische Library, Tufts University, is a small digital collection built in part by Alex May, a recent graduate from Simmons College. Beginning with 3 records, Alex presented how he created a popular digital collection. With skills such as xml, RDF, xslt, HTML, CSS, he was able to get a small collection on the web and indexed through Google. As the project advanced, it was an opportunity for the department at Tische Library to re-evaluate the role of technical services. This is where Alicia Morris, the head of the department, presented that technical services can no longer be a “backroom operation”. Technical services needs to gains these skills like xml, xslt, html, metadata schemas, etc. Technical services also needs to collaborate with other units in the library and in their community. Otherwise Technical Services will die. This was one of the more interesting presentations thanks to Alicia’s comments and Alex’s detailed explanation on the Miscellany Collection.
  1. “The Future is On Demand: Just-in-Time and Patron Driven”, Presented by Laura Crain.
Laura presented St. Michael’s College experience with patron driven acquisitions. The PDA program was initiated in 2008. It was found that their users prefer print rather than eBooks. Laura added that this might be different now in 2011 if a new survey would be taken. The PDA program was started with a service called MyiLibrary. Recently, Ebrary’s eBook service was added. The advantage is that eBooks are either purchased or rented depending on the model of the services and the contract negotiated. The PDA program has definitely affected collection development, which is now based on circulation statistics. The advantages are that users can find more books, there’s more space, and the process is transparent. The disadvantages are that content doesn’t always stay in the library, not collecting materials for prosperity, no sharing of eBooks and econtent. Laura explained that even though their users prefer print materials, they are increasing the number of eBooks available through MyiLibrary and Ebrary. The focus is now oriented towards what patrons what and less on what the library feels these patrons want.
The most popular program was the one on PDA. The most interesting program was the presentation by Alicia Morris. Her comments on the need to revamp technical services from a backroom operation to one that collaborates with fellow colleagues and users was a positive and welcomed message.