Wherefore Technical Services

I feel often that you as students think we are teaching you how to work in a technical services department.  But of course we are not.

This course looks to give you the FUNdamentals of the catalogue.  How the artifacts of the catalogue record is made.  But this is problematic to get.  To know more about how technical services works you have to get your fundamentals sure but we want you to know… What happens in there?  What are the rules by which the library collections and mandate come through?

This is a list of how Tech Services represents themselves.  Needs improvement?

A vintage consortia piece http://www.nla.gov.au/librariesaustralia/services/cataloguing/workflows/

Cataloguing standards for the British Library http://www.bl.uk/bibliographic/catstandards.html

Penn State libraries http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/cataloging.html

Policies like these are only a hint at the actual style guides within that set out local rules and protocols.  There are a set of triggers that say while you could just describe every item to the best of your ability, don’t do that.  It is important that libs of every stripe are conversant in this and finding out which collections get the total treatment and which are marginalized.

But I guess I should not assume to limit catalogue metadata is synonymous with limits on access?


4 thoughts on “Wherefore Technical Services

  1. Although I understand the reality of having to pick and choose because you can’t have everything, if anything, I found that for collections that are marginalized, they can frequently also be the ones that have little information elsewhere (i.e. on the web), which makes it very difficult to find. Frequently, I find that less effort is put into materials that are not “popular” or used a lot (granted, I’m speaking from an academic standpoint), but if a patron (or librarian) does not know the materials exist, then they will _never_ be used… Just a thought.

  2. To expand on Cynthia’s point:

    This problem becomes even more exacerbated when these unknown/poorly described items become candidates for storage. It takes time and money to improve the catalogue records – and that is time and money away from new shiny materials that are “in demand.” But it needs to be done. Because if you don’t it will be the equivalent of dumping everything in a dark room and closing the door.

  3. I tend to side with what Cynthia is saying and I think examples can be found in both public and academic libraries. For example (and I know I’m beating a long dead horse here), take a look at the Adult Video “collection” at VPL. There is absolutely no way for the librarian to know what actually exists in this collection, let alone where/how to find it. Barrier to bad DVD access? For sure. As Cynthia mentioned, these items can be considered maybe a bit obscure or “less popular,” but a barrier is a barrier is a barrier. And in a library setting, this always gives me, regardless of the item’s quality/popularity, cause for pause. I see some of this working the ref desk at UBC also. Not so much the general umbrella Adult Video, but a lack of information in the catalogue record. And I’m not meaning a table of contents or abstract included for every item (but how nice would that be?!?). But I can’t skim every article or Google Books search every book to know if it’s meeting the patron’s information need or not. Am I exaggerating a bit? Of course. It’s true that we can’t have our pie and eat it too. I do love me some pie tough…

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