Marriage of Three Partners:
Collections, Reference and Technology
in an Emerging Electronic Household
Selection and Delivery of Electronic Resources:
Issues and Solutions in Collaborative Efforts
Assistant Director for Collections & Services
Moderator: Jim Jacobs
Data Services Librarian
UC San Diego
Three speakers addressed specific concerns from collections, reference and systems perspectives. Not surprisingly, none of them could isolate their work without mentioning how much collaboration and joint ventures are necessary to provide sufficient access.
Pisani led off with historical background on the evolution of collection development and focused her comments on the research enterprise of large and significant collections in today's teaching and research environment. Building on collection strength, reinforcing democratic rights of faculty and students, serving as purveyors for the future by practicing conservation and preservation principles, and anticipating competition among universities is central to how library resources develop. The need to monitor local programs and needs, as well as the publishing activities by disciplines, and maintaining the awareness of research trends is part of accurate information gathering for a solid collections program. The challenge thus becomes how to devise strategies to introduce new mediums to support teaching and research.
At Stanford, like other institutions, some organizational redesign and repositioning was necessary, due to the blurring between public services and collection development and technical support. What often is difficult to achieve is how to best evaluate the services necessary to support the collections. Under Pisani's leadership in the last year, a new organizational structure evolved, combining services with collections and access. It was introduced so that the Library could continue to encourage a "format blind" approach to collections, and to support a move from mainframe systems hierarchy to a client server system, and institutional support for subject specialists.
One of the primary outcomes was the establishment of a web advisory council to examine access to electronic resources and to promote internal sponsorship, consistent imagery, and the look and feel of the access page. This contributed to the creation of the Digital Library Program, which blended Academic Technology and the Information Services units. Some of the immediate benefits of this new vision of a library are the experience of a new culture uniting collections and services; a creation of hexagonal galleries with more outreach to establish new and old communities of resources, and a way to build expertise among staff. The issues staff now share are reviewing site licensing, and building local expertise among the subject specialists who also deliver services in many mediums. This presentation paved the way to how critical communication and information sharing is established in the example of the Stanford research library environment and was a theme that was reinforced by other speakers.
Collections and Technology:
It All Comes Together at the Reference Desk
AUL for Reference, Instruction and Collection Services
Cal Poly Pomona
SECOND SPEAKER, Dunn, enthusiastically supported the notion that cooperation was the only way that reference service was going to evolve in academic libraries. She sees a partnership involving reference, collections, systems and even technical service catalogers as participating in the delivery of public services. Her definition of reference included every kind of instruction, and she calls for a service plan for electronic resources that impacts everything. This range includes selection of resources, technical support--and she indicated the need for backups when technology fails--intervention for product stability, updating web-based access and information--especially from the 856 fields in bibliographic records--and urging new methods to cope with the complexity of information choices.
One of the emerging roles of librarians is to assist users with the new gateways to access. The Web leads to new paradoxes and offers terrific challenges. Users need help to distinguish and assess resources. Librarians have been successful in selling self-service; however, they are beginning to realize that in the electronic environment, especially with the Internet, users may not be selecting appropriate resources. Thus, Dunn advocates for librarian self-promotion as the best way to convince users that an information professional--the librarian--is needed to assist in quality 'Net searches.
Dunn suggests ways to facilitate collaboration in libraries to be assured that users are being directed appropriately: to gain an awareness of interdependence and to foster new interrelationships; to build stronger communication between units; to adapt the organizational structure to formalize cross-training among the staff, and to understand how decisions are made regarding selection, access, and use.
The CSUs are moving toward establishing more core collections for electronic resources and ways to practice more cooperative collection development. This is not easy, but the individual libraries need to have strong in-house library systems staffs to support changing services. This is a time of unsettling change, but they are very exciting times; electronic resources will be the center stage of reference transactions.
Head of Library Systems
UC San Diego
THIRD SPEAKER, Corbin, outlined a brief, historical chronology of delivery mechanisms in different environments, with the changes made most paramount due to network developments. She said that systems considerations had to be made at the earliest stages of selection of collection resources, along with an analysis of content, format, equipment needs, access methods, purchase or lease options, cost structures, multiple format coverage, etc.
Reference service models composed of directional, informational, consultative, and instructional strategies not surprisingly require technology assistance and an understanding of the software interfaces and appropriate equipment necessary. The move from personal service or access to the delivery of core services across a network is one of the major changes in access.
Systems issues require examination of the method of delivery--by CD-ROM, the WWW, etc.--and the type of workstation, plus added services for connectivity, to printing, e-mail, downloading, which all pose greater challenges. Network infra- structure determines the capacity to add new enhancements for sound and other elements. Computer security--including the concerns about restricted access, physical security, software security--determine how libraries proceed with user codes and passwords, IP addresses, authentication. Limiting access leads to potential methods of censorship and having to study whether one wants different configurations to allow for e-mail and other transactions that are not necessarily collections oriented. However, remote access is critical and necessitates serious study. The organizational structure of centralized, decentralized or a mixed environment, suggests how significant computing and technical support is to promoting the use of collections and reference services.
The UCSD Support model is an example of a cross-function team approach for planning, development and management. It has centralized infrastructure support, a semicentralized server support, and a decentralized workstation and peripheral support, along with a decentralized application support model. Flexibility, adaptability and cooperation are essential components to make the triad of collections, services and systems function harmoniously.
So what did we all learn from this preconference? The break-out groups grappled with some of these issues and concluded that solidarity between librarians and information producers/vendors would be helpful; there is a need to increase the momentum for archiving by suppliers; an increase in bibliographic access for electronic resources is a goal of nearly all libraries; and forums such as this are very useful to share ideas and information.
In conclusion, information competencies will improve if users have reliable access to resources, and that library instruction as we know it takes on different dimensions to help users make better decisions about the information they retrieve and the quality of that information. The marriage will continue to have odd partners, because change continues to lie ahead.