Monday, April 22, 2019

Getting to Know TS Librarians: Rachel Evans

1. Introduce yourself (name & position). Please provide a picture to be posted to the TechScans blog. 
Rachel Evans - I am the Metadata Services Librarian at UGA Law Library. I had been at UGA School of Law in the library's I.T. department for close to 7 years in a web coordinator role before taking a position as a librarian last November 2018. As the web coordinator I had wonderful opportunities to work closely with all of the librarians and library staff on various projects, many of which overlapped with my new job title and duties, so applying for and taking the metadata role was a no-brainer! As the Metadata Librarian I work with other librarians on the Leadership team, Systems team, Digital Commons team, and continue to attend law school Web team meetings. 

Here's a link to Rachel's bio:

2. Does your job title actually describe what you do? Why/why not? 
It both does and doesn't. In the sense that metadata is a part of nearly everything created and maintained by the law library, the title obviously applies. I manage several collections in our Digital Commons repository including some conferences and other events as well as librarian presentations and articles. I also do batch loads into our ILS from various vendors, load authority records, manage e-book discovery records, and change our physical back-up tape. The list could go on... metadata is not limited to my individual role though, and in a way it suits my job no more than it would anyone else who edits records in our catalog or adds items to our repository (and there are so many of us that share those responsibilities - aren't we all metadata librarians?!). A better fit might be something like "web" services or "electronic resources"... but now I'm just being picky!! It is a cool sounding title, albeit one that always requires extensive explanation from well meaning but non-librarian family members ("meta-what?!").

3. What are you reading right now? 
I am currently working my way through two books. The first is actually about one of my husband's distant uncles, Torment in the Knobs. It  historically recalls the 19th century story of Mason Evans, legendary hermit for 40 years in the area surrounding Starr Mountain, Tennessee. It is one of several books we recently acquired featuring different versions of Mason's life. The second is one I just started reading, The Piano Teacher. This novel is a continuation of a reading list I started over a year ago to read the novels that served as the basis for films I had seen or wanted to see. I loved the film by the same name which was actually the first Heneke film I ever saw. I have read so many wonderful novels from this list and it continues to grow as I discover more and more books that did not realize were the basis for some of my favorite tales on screen. Other highlights I've read from this series of reading: Pinnochio, Frantic, Spiral Into Horror, Mouchette, Don't Look Now, The Makioka Sisters, Watership Down, Diary of a Country Priest, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Half In Love, and Berlin Alexanderplatz.

4. You suddenly have a free day at work, what project would you work on? 
I am extremely excited about two projects. It would be a very tough call as to which I would focus on if I had a completely and totally free day. One is a usability testing study I am working on with a small team. We hope to screen capture a group of user clicks through our online catalog (Sierra) and our discovery layer (Ebsco) as they follow prompts we have designed. My goal is that the results will not only reveal which platform better serves us, but also allow the library to discover how our users travel through each site and to find problems that need fixing. The other project would be cleaning up and re-organizing our various websites. We have several: Digital Commons repository, LibGuides, and a few Drupal sites (both public facing and an intranet). Part of this clean-up is already underway with Digital Commons, and I am having great fun working with our Archives Librarian Sharon Bradley to simultaneously clear old event photos off of the public law school web server and preserve/re-organize our digital photos in the online repository. There are SO many pieces to the various site puzzles though... a single free day would just not be enough!

Getting to Know TS Librarians: Keelan Weber

1. Introduce yourself (name & position).
Hi! I’m Keelan Weber, Head of Cataloging and Resource Management at the University of Nebraska College of Law, Schmid Law Library. I am brand new to law librarianship, having started in September 2018. Prior to my current position, I worked in e-resource management for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries.

2. Does your job title actually describe what you do? Why/why not?
Yes, it actually does! The majority of my job is cataloging and maintaining our resources and managing two amazing staff who work to make our materials available for our Law College community.

3. What are you reading right now?
I’ve gotten into the habit of reading one fiction and one nonfiction book at the same time. I’m currently finishing up Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas (I loved True Sisters… this is not as good, but still a nice read) and Son of a Critch by Canadian comedian, Mark Critch which is perfect Newfoundlander story-telling packed with laughs.

4. If you could work in any library (either a type of library or a specific one), what would it be? Why?
I think archives are a fascinating place. I would love to discover long-lost letters or objects. I had wanted to be an archaeologist as a kid and I think working in archives would give that same feeling of the potential for a wondrous discovery.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Measuring the value of cataloging

A recent post by Karen Smith-Yoshimura on OCLC's Hanging Together blog highlights the difficulty of quantifying the impact of cataloging work. The column is based on a discussion by OCLC Research Library Partners metadata managers. Smith-Yoshimura reminds readers that traditional methods of tracking cataloger productivity, statistics, do not measure the actual impact of the cataloger's work.

In many institutions, catalogers work in an environment where their efforts are undervalued by administration. In order to justify the effort involved to craft high quality bibliographic descriptions, we need to quantify how this work contributes to user's success, and how the metadata we create contributes to our organization's strategic goals. Smith-Yoshimura highlights the need for a "culture shift" from "pride around production alone" to placing value on learning opportunities and experimentation. She emphasizes the need to "understand that improving all metadata is more important than any individual's productivity."

How any one technical services unit can convince their administration to provide time and space to pursue these kinds of opportunities in the face of staff reductions and continued pressure to maintain production is an open question.

Smith-Yoshimura, Karen. Alternatives to statistics for measuring success and value of cataloging. Hanging together, the OCLC research blog. April 15, 2019.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Preservation Week April 21-27

Preservation Week, April 21 – 27, is drawing near.  Law librarians play a key role in preserving legal information and scholarship for the benefit of future generations.  In a print environment, preservation may be as simple as protecting the binding of a book, repairing a ripped page, or ordering multiple copies of a well-used title.  With the birth and growth of digital documents, the task becomes more complex and difficult to achieve, especially for smaller institutions and establishments.  Without adequate resources to undertake the needed work, digital legal information becomes especially vulnerable to technological obsolescence and potential degradation over time. 
In 2003 attendees at a conference sponsored by the Georgetown University Law Library and the American Association of Law Libraries recognized the challenging landscape and the need to establish long-term archiving and preservation support to institutions charged with overseeing legal collections.  To address the concerns, conference participants established the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA).
 In 2005, LIPA commissioned a white paper, Preserving Legal Materials in Digital Formats.  In 2006, members released the first Strategic Plan with an updated version following in 2009. These documents laid the foundation and created a structure for the consistent development of new projects and services for member libraries.
Today, LIPA is a non-profit consortium of over one-hundred academic federal, state and public law libraries dedicated to the preservation and accessibility of legal information through collaboration, education, and advocacy.  Ventures include LawArXiv, Law Review Preservation Program, Legal Information Archive, and PALMPrint.  Information professionals will find a list of digital preservation resources on the website, as well as a BLOG featuring preservation tips.