1 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 1 Evaluation of the Cataloging Department at the University of San Francisco s Gleeson Library Erin Czech and Israel Yañez San Jose State University
2 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 2 Abstract The existence of a fully functioning cataloging department in a library organization is a good indication of the overall success and quality of the library in general. Using the criteria for evaluating the cataloging services of academic libraries established in a report written by Elaine Sanchez (2007) as a template, this study will attempt to evaluate the Cataloging Department at the University of San Francisco s Gleeson Library. The criteria used to determine the health of a cataloging department are based on a number of factors including productivity, staff training and education, the ability to work with other departments, and the flexibility to adapt to changes in standards and technology.
3 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 3 Evaluation of the Cataloging Department at the University of San Francisco s Gleeson Library Budget cuts for libraries have been a continual dilemma for library administrations in the recent past. With lower operating budgets, library administrators must choose areas in their institution that can function with less money. Cataloging departments have often been the victim of decreases in funding over the past few years. A decrease in funding is often accompanied with a decrease in importance to the overall organization. Catalogers have had their responsibilities decreased as many library institutions have opted to rely on pre-packaged cataloging products that can be batch loaded into a library s online public access catalog (OPAC). This type of automatic cataloging is often unchecked for quality due to the lack of staff hours. As a result, library organizations that have allocated their money away from cataloging services have witnessed the functionality of their catalog system diminish to some extent. Library administrations that have chosen to reduce the quality control of their cataloging services would defend their decision by saying that the overall benefits of original cataloging would not match the money allotted in staff hours to perform it. They would argue that a typical library user does not benefit from comprehensive MARC records. The part of the budget that would be spent on professional catalogers to create and audit catalog records would be better spent on other budget items. While this may or may not be true, one can surely judge the strength of a library organization in these economically difficult times by the existence of a fully functional and thriving cataloging department.
4 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 4 One such organization is the Gleeson Library at the University of San Francisco (USF). The Cataloging Department at Gleeson Library is an efficient and well-managed department. With respect to the size of the student population at USF and the number of total volumes that the Gleeson Library holds, this department has an above average number of professional and paraprofessional staff. Although the Cataloging Department at Gleeson Library is one department of three that comprise the Gleeson Library Technical Services Department, it has retained its autonomous nature in the organization. This paper reports more extensively on the findings of an evaluation of this department s services performed in the Fall of 2008 using the evaluative methodology used by Elaine Sanchez (2007) in her report, Emerging Issues in Academic Library Cataloging & Technical Services. I. Description of USF, Gleeson Library, Staffing Founded in 1855, the University of San Francisco is a private, non-profit Jesuit college. The Gleeson Library at USF is the university s main library. Although small in size, it is well suited to the size of the student population. As of the Fall 2008 semester, there are 5,477 undergraduates and 3,295 graduate students registered at USF. The collection size at the close of 2007 was 718,135 books and 136,751 bound volumes of periodicals. The Gleeson Library currently receives over 2,000 titles of print journals. However, they are moving away from print journals in favor of electronic resources, since that is what faculty and students prefer. About 40 percent of the Gleeson Library materials budget is on electronic resources, including licenses and subscriptions, 30 percent on books, and 30 percent on print periodicals.
5 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 5 The Cataloging Department at Gleeson Library consists of three professional librarians, two library assistants, and three student assistants who equal approximately one full time employee. Librarians in the Cataloging Department are responsible for all original cataloging. They also perform complex copy cataloging which entails extensive enhancing of records. In addition, each cataloging librarian has collection development responsibilities and serves as a bibliographic liaison to academic departments across campus. They each also specialize in a particular area of cataloging. The Head of Cataloging, Eric Ewen, catalogs serials in both electronic and print formats. Debbie Benrubi catalogs non-print formats and government documents. Ben Watson catalogs rare books and manuscripts. Library assistants do non-lc (Library of Congress) copy cataloging, routinely adding subject headings and class numbers to records. Student assistants perform copy cataloging of LC records only. Eric Ewen (personal communication, November 14, 2008) feels LC copy is of high enough quality that only a few data elements need checking; the student assistants do this as well. Ewen also mentioned that the total budget for student assistants has been frozen for the past three years, even though their wages have increased year-by-year. This has forced the department to utilize more creative management solutions including the use of more work-study programs in order to maintain a consistent number of student assistants. The Cataloging Department at Gleeson Library is the centralized cataloging department for all USF library branches, except the law library. Their first priority is the cataloging of all library materials in all formats for all non-law collections. The second most important function is database maintenance. Ewen stated that Cataloging must ensure that database files are authoritative, that headings are accurate and up-to-date,
6 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 6 and that there is internal consistency in the files. The department runs a new headings report every Friday morning as a means to accomplish this task. II. Productivity When asked about productivity, Ewen (personal communication, November 14, 2008) insisted that his department is very productive, even though the librarians do not keep statistics on how many books they catalog. The first dean Ewen worked for at USF did not require cataloging quotas or the keeping of statistics as long as the department, as an aggregate, met its mission. His subsequent superior simply did not want any significant backlogs. Backlogs are common at larger, research libraries, but not acceptable at smaller undergraduate libraries. Although USF has many graduate students, the Gleeson library is mainly used by the relatively small number of undergraduates. Ewen showed us to the room where the backlog is kept and, all in all, it takes up about two rows of shelves. Because of the virtually nonexistent backlog, there is no quota system at the Gleeson library and there never has been one. Philosophically speaking, Ewen does not believe in keeping statistics for his department because he thinks they can be biased and misleading. He believes that there can be a great difference in the complexity and difficulty of cataloging one book to another and there is no way to differentiate this using statistical analysis. III. New Technologies, Enhancement of Online Catalogs Gleeson library s integrated library system (ILS) vendor is Innovative Interfaces, Incorporated. Many Innovative Interfaces libraries have enhanced their OPACs with additional products offered by Innovative. Examples of features offered by Innovative include Encore, their front-end solution for federated searching. Gleeson Library very
7 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 7 recently implemented this enhancement (Ignacio, n.d.). Now when a user visits Ignacio, the Encore search box appears in the top frame as an option for searching all of the library s resources. Encore features a faceted results display as well as links to enriched content. The Systems Department at the Gleeson Library maintains the ILS. The Head of Library Systems is responsible for enhancements and recommending new products available from Innovative. Decisions about purchasing and implementing enhancements to the ILS and OPAC are made by the Library Leadership team, on which every department is represented. A couple of social enhancements have been implemented in Ignacio. Patrons can now contribute reviews and ratings in the OPAC. These are enhancements Innovative Interfaces offers as a product. However, at USF, these new features have not quite caught on, despite being available now for approximately a year. IV. Transition to Metadata Standards Gleeson Library hired a Digital Collections librarian about a year ago. This librarian is a member of the Systems Department and will be overseeing an upcoming project of digitizing a collection of fine art prints. The library is currently considering a digital collections management system and will probably be acquiring a product like OCLC s CONTENTdm, although Innovative Interfaces has its own digital collections management systems called Content Pro. Both CONTENTdm and Content Pro use Dublin Core as their metadata schema (Innovative Interfaces, 2008; OCLC, 2008). V. Cataloging of Web Sites and Digital, Special Collections
8 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 8 Web resources are cataloged based on a request from a reference librarian. It is assumed that the reference librarian making the request has evaluated the web resource and has established that the resource is relatively stable before making the request that it be cataloged. The cataloging librarian does not question the selection of the resource; he or she simply focuses on cataloging the web resource. USF is a member institution of the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC). Through SCELC, USF is able to purchase sets of records for e- books in the NetLibrary and Safari Tech Books packages. Records for these titles are batch loaded into the local catalog and batch processed. Minimal editing, such as coding for location, is done in Innovative s Global Update module. No quality control is performed. USF also purchases sets of records for journals included in their aggregated databases. These sets of records are purchased from Serials Solutions and are also batch loaded into the local catalog. Just like the e-book titles, very little is done to the records and no quality control is performed. The Cataloging Department at Gleeson Library also edits records for periodicals available through Project Muse or JSTOR. The record for the print title is enhanced for online access by editing or adding variable fields to reflect access to the online version. For these titles, there very likely will be duplicate records in the local catalog after the Serial Solutions titles are batch loaded. Ewen did not consider this to be a major issue or cause for confusion.
9 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 9 VI. Training and Presentations At Gleeson, all the training on the use of the library catalog is done by the reference librarians. Training on the use of the ILS new enhancements falls under the responsibilities of the Systems Librarian. The Systems librarian is also responsible for training library departments on their respective modules. Most OPACs offer the option to display bibliographic records in MARC format. Ewen has provided training for the public services on the basics of MARC format. In addition, he has occasionally explained to faculty the idiosyncrasies of the arrangement and access to certain collections. For example, the Loeb Classical library is classed separately at USF. Ewen had to explain the advantages of this cataloging decision to a faculty member who had come from an academic institution whose library had classed the Loeb Classical Library together. VII. Database Maintenance, Holdings, and Physical Processing Virtually all of the database maintenance at Gleeson Library is done in-house. With the exception of over 22,000 bibliographic records acquired through Serial Solutions, the Cataloging Department performs nearly all the maintenance on bibliographic records for serials. Title changes, cancellations, cessations are handled by the cataloging department. The updating of holdings information is done by a library assistant in Acquisitions. When errors in the bibliographic records are reported by any library staff, these are corrected by the Cataloging Department. Suggestions for improvement to any record, such as an added subject heading, are also handled by Cataloging. Authority control is shared by the cataloging librarians at Gleeson and the technical services
10 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 10 librarian at the law library on a rotating basis. New or changed headings are processed using Innovative s Global Update module, although Ewen pointed out that the librarians must carefully check the update to make sure that the changes were correctly implemented. Occasionally, a patron will bring a book that is not in the catalog to the circulation desk for checkout. If the patron needs the book immediately and cannot wait, the Circulation staff checks the book out manually and cataloging is performed upon its return. If the patron can wait, the book is sent to the cataloging department for rush cataloging. In either case, the Circulation staff does not create an on-the-fly record and the book eventually gets a full catalog record. Physical processing is done by the students shared by the Cataloging and Acquisitions departments. The students are supervised by a library assistant from the Cataloging Department. Binding of theses manuscripts and books needing bindery repair is outsourced. This is the only outsourcing that the cataloging department does. They have the monks at a Trappist monastery in Lafayette, Oregon do their binding and bindery repair. The monastery sends a truck periodically to USF to deliver bound books and to pick up theses manuscripts that need to be bound and books that need bindery repair. VIII. Relationship with Acquisition Departments The relationship between the Cataloging and Acquisition departments at Gleeson is a typical one: Acquisitions is responsible for ordering and paying for library materials, and Cataloging is responsible for cataloging all materials in all formats.
11 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 11 There is no approval plan at Gleeson. Larger libraries may have approval plans. According to Ewen (personal communication, November 14, 2008), to have an approval, a library must invest at least $100,000, and that would take a significant portion of Gleeson s materials budget. One of the cataloging librarians, Debbie Benrubi, also works in the Acquisitions with gifts. The Acquisitions and Cataloging departments also share student assistants, IX. Staff Education The education and continuing development of staff seems to be a priority at Gleeson Library. Librarians are allocated 2,500 dollars annually for travel and professional development. Development opportunities for library assistants are supported by a discretionary fund managed by the dean, who receives recommendations for allocation from a three-person committee, whose members are elected by the support staff. Library assistants in the cataloging department receive intensive on-the-job training. New library assistants have their work carefully reviewed by the cataloging librarians in the hope that their expertise will grow over time. Ewen (personal communication, November 14, 2008) states, Even when they are fully trained, library assistants routinely submit their work to professional catalogers for review before their fully edited and enhanced bibliographic records are exported into our online catalog. In addition, library assistants receive formal training via workshops offered by ALA and OCLC. However, Ewen explained that these opportunities are only available on a discretionary basis. During a budget crisis, funds allocated toward outside staff education would most likely be eliminated.
12 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 12 X. Other Issues With regard to other issues facing Gleeson Library, Ewen (personal communication, November 14, 2008) spoke about the decisions he would have to make if facing a budget crisis. He explained that budget issues typically affect a cataloging department indirectly, since the materials budget would be the first place to make cuts. Cuts in the materials budget would mean fewer new materials to catalog. In the past, when this has occurred, Ewen explained that the department has always found ways to stay productive, including working on delayed projects. In his time at USF, however, the department has never faced a budget crisis in which staff reductions were necessary. He believes that this is partly due to the fact that USF is a privately funded school and they do not have to stay in line with state budget requirements. On the subject of the implementation of RDA as the cataloging standard at Gleeson Library, Ewen stated that he had no concrete plans. However, he would like his department to be ahead of the curve. He spoke about the necessity of adopting it for his department, if, for example, OCLC formally adopted it. If this occurred, he said they would have no choice in the matter since the department uses OCLC products for their cataloging. Ewen, however, feels the need to take a pragmatic approach to this issue. He stated that he would not implement any staff training programs on RDA until he was sure that RDA would become the new standard. Otherwise, this training could be a possible waste of staff resources. XI. Discussion and Conclusion Gleeson Library is essentially an undergraduate library. The law school at USF is served by a separate library. While there are many academic programs at USF that
13 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 13 offer graduate degrees, the majority of programs are undergraduate (The University of San Francisco, 2008). Consequently, the target population served by the Gleeson Library is undergraduate students. While Cataloging and Acquisitions share a librarian and student assistants, they remain separate departments. This is also the case in five out of the nine case studies included in the Sanchez (2007) report. The Cataloging Department at the Gleeson Library, like all nine case studies from the Sanchez (2007) report, does not use cataloging quotas. Had Gleeson Library been included in the Sanchez report, it would have been in the minority when it comes to authority record maintenance. Gleeson does not outsource any of its authority control work; all authority control is done by the cataloging librarians at Gleeson and the technical services librarian at the USF library. This is also true of two of the nine libraries in the Sanchez report. For a library of its size and type, the Cataloging Department at Gleeson is very well staffed with a healthy professional to paraprofessional ratio. At a panel discussion at a recent American Library Association conference, Diane Hillman pointed to a trend showing more catalogers work as support staff than as professional librarians (Hillman, Bowen, Spalding, Tennant and Yee, 2008). Out of the 50 employees at Gleeson Library, three are professional cataloging librarians. Considering the trend Hillman points to, the number of cataloging librarians at Gleeson Library is encouraging. The current size of the Cataloging Department at the Gleeson Library, the professional-to- paraprofessional ratio in the department, and the generous annual
14 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 14 allocation for cataloging librarians professional development, all point to a stable future for the department.
15 Evaluation of a Cataloging Department 15 References Hillman, D., Bowen, J., Spalding, T., Tennant, R., & Yee, M. (2008, June 29). Creating the future of the Catalog and Cataloging. Panel discussion presented at American Library Association Annual Conference, Anaheim, CA. Ignacio: USF Libraries catalog. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2008, from University of San Francisco Web site: Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (2008). Content Pro. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from OCLC. (2008). Features. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from contentdm/about/features/default.htm Sanchez, E. (2007). Emerging issues in academic library cataloging & technical services. Available December 8, 2008 at Science.html The University of San Francisco fact book and almanac (2008, January 31). [Brochure]. San Francisco: Office of Institutional Research. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from University of San Francisco Web site: about_usf/usfalmanac2007.pdf