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Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Volume 24 Number 13 August 11, 2002

Workflow Analysis
at Technical and Automated Services

The Libraries' Technical and Automated Services (TAS) department is taking a long hard look at the way they do the things they do.

The TAS workflow analysis, to be completed in fall 2002, is a comprehensive evaluation of all processes and procedures that provide for the flow of information and materials from TAS to library units. The analysis will also examine the technical support services TAS provides to the library system, including support for such major systems as the SIRSI Unicorn Integrated Library System. Additionally, TAS will explore vendor outsourcing for the routine cataloging and processing of some materials-a new way of doing business that requires new strategies for internal workflow.

The timing was right for this in-depth analysis for several important reasons, including recent staff shortages and the advent of significant new services, such as Luna and videoconferencing. The primary reason for this self-evaluation, however, is the growing role TAS plays in the Libraries Digital Library Initiative. Also, each TAS department is taking this opportunity to not only streamline processes and procedures but to examine what it means to be a technical services department in the digital age.

Technical services processes are traditionally bounded by workflows and deadlines dictated by an analog environment, primarily the annual budget cycle for the purchase of books, journals, and other materials. In the digital age, the flow of information is literally unbounded. Digital information can be received, cataloged, and processed at any time and is not necessarily limited by budget since much important information that should be cataloged and acknowledged is available for free or changes frequently as journal aggregator offerings change.

Workflow for technical services has traditionally focused on each individual item in the workflow, e.g., the book as it is purchased, received, cataloged, processed, and shipped. Digital workflow must focus on the smooth, well-managed flow of information. This means an emphasis on core activities-the minimum amount of effort needed to effectively support the flow of information through the library. The workflow analysis will focus on looking for commonalties and economies of scale and eliminating such bottlenecks as single performers for critical tasks, lack of automation, workflow that backtracks, etc.

To appreciate workflow analysis, it is important to know what it IS-an opportunity to step outside the work and evaluate it with fresh eyes and a new perspective-and what it is NOT. It is not evaluation of staff performance. No names are associated with any process or step within a process, and the initial workflow analysis is conducted internally by each department with all members of the department actively participating. A common myth is the belief that workflows that need changing represent poor employee performance. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Workflow tends to get off-kilter when work increases for conscientious employees who try to provide a high-level of service for each step. As the work increased, conscientious staff members worked harder and harder. But unless the work decreases- and it never decreases!-the only successful strategy is to stop, take a deep breath, and look for new ways to do the increasing work. TAS has taken that deep breath and embarked on the first stage of the workflow analysis process.

The next stage will involve an outside consultant-probably from within Rutgers University but not in the library profession. This consultant will be selected to help TAS step out of the box and look at the department as a digital information and systems provider. We will look for a consultant to take a fresh, innovative look at our newly revised workflow to help us identify processes and procedures from other areas, such as e-commerce, to take us on the "next step" toward a truly digital library. The TAS strategic training committee, chaired by Mary Beth Weber, has identified several possible consultants.

In addition to TAS' internal workflow, the technical services units of the New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark libraries will also participate in workflow analysis and will work with the outside consultant. The result will be smoother, predictable workflow that reduces, and ultimately eliminates, backlogs in every area.

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This summer, Libraries Training and Learning Coordinator Marilyn Wilt will work with Associate University Librarian for Digital Library Systems Grace Agnew and the staff at Technical and Automated Services as they embark on a comprehensive workflow analysis that will form the foundation of a reengineering process at TAS. Marilyn and Grace will implement a collaborative development series of three workshops designed to facilitate and support working in a changing environment. This series of workshops is one of the principal building blocks of the Libraries' "Explore, Discover, Learn" professional development process.

"Dealing with Change," the first workshop in the series, begins to build understanding and awareness, expands communication about the impending changes, and promotes a willingness to move into the changing environment with a positive attitude. The workshop positions the total reengineering process in the larger context of the Libraries and allows time for exploring concerns and apprehensions.

Once the initial reengineering plans have been implemented, "Problem-Solving for Win-Win Solutions," will be held. This second workshop is designed to give participants the skills and tools they will need to develop strategies to make the emergent plans work. It will facilitate the definition and clarification of roles and responsibilities as the process unfolds.

"Dealing with Difficult Situations," the final workshop in the series, will provide further opportunities to refine the emergent reengineering process and develop participants' skills and understanding.

A second training and development project for the summer is the development of a training and development office website. Marilyn will be working to expand and update this website, and she will partner with the PC Working Group to mount a technology best practices page that will be available in the fall. The best practices page will offer wide- ranging tips on a variety of subjects. The training and development office will provide information/demo sessions to assist everyone in the Libraries in using this valuable resource.

For those who were unable to attend either the virtual reference videoconference series or the OCLC Institute "Steering by Standards" videoconference series, there are videotapes of all sessions of both series. The Libraries may set up screenings of these tapes, if there is interest. Please contact Marilyn Wilt at 732/932-7505 or mrwilt@rutgers.edu to request a screening or to borrow a set of tapes.

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Librarians Without Borders: A report

In spring semester, 2002, the New Brunswick Libraries Information Services Steering Group (NBL ISSG) created an Outpost Services Team to study the demand for library services at locations other than library buildings. Members of the Team are Triveni Kuchi, Laura Bowering Mullen, and Stephanie Tama-Bartels.

Since this was the first time the Libraries were looking at setting up an outpost program of this nature, not much background information was available. A literature review was not of much help either. NBL ISSG identified in its annual report ways to experiment with outreach services, "such as establishing library outposts in dorms or student centers, and establishing library cyber-posts". It suggested that the Outpost Services Team initially set up a pilot program at campus/student centers during 2002-spring semester.

The Outpost Services Team soon met and set the following goals for a pilot program:

  • Create a satellite outpost as an additional point of entry for library services
  • Provide library services where students congregate on campus
  • Offer this service during "research/term paper" time in the semester
  • Test and evaluate the need for and interest in such services

Early in the planning process, the team met with the associate dean of Rutgers College and the director of the Rutgers College student centers. The associate dean and the student centers director both enthusiastically responded to the idea of an outpost, which, from their perspective, added to the breadth of services offered at the campus centers. The determinative factors for selection of a location were feasibility, cost, and time for setting up an outpost. The Busch Campus Center (BCC) was more readily available and could be adapted very quickly with minimal cost. The team therefore decided that the BCC would be an ideal location for the pilot program. The campus center administration generously offered one half of their circular information desk for the library outpost.

The outpost services team provided this pilot service at the Busch Campus Center information desk for nineteen days, Monday through Thursday, for a total of ninety-five hours (five hours per day - three hours in the day and two hours in the evening). The team chose a trial period of April 8th through May 8th, between spring Break and exams, when students would likely be involved in more intensive efforts to prepare their research and term papers.

The target audiences for advertising this service were Rutgers students and faculty members. In order to reach out to them, a memo was sent to the associate dean of Rutgers College, who requested undergraduate program directors and faculty advisors to encourage students to use the service. Flyers were posted at the BCC as well as dormitories. A banner with the Libraries' logo and URL was displayed across the front of the outpost desk. A poster-sized version of the "Librarians without Borders" flyer was placed at the main entrance to the BCC. Another poster entitled "Librarians can help you..." was set up alongside the outpost listing a few examples of how librarians could provide assistance. Finally, a press release was drafted for the Targum and for the "News & Events" feature on the Libraries' website.

The pilot outpost service received a total of 205 questions during this period, of which 169 (82%) constituted directional questions and 36 (18%) were reference. The high number of directional questions reflected the proximity of the outpost to the BCC information desk. Of the directional questions, 53 (31%) were answered at the desk and 116 (69%) were referred to BCC information desk assistants.

Of all the reference questions, 31 (86%) were answered at the desk and 5 (14%) were referred to other Libraries. The reference questions could be answered at the desk using the digital resources available. Team members assisted patrons with library research on various topics such as Niebuhr theories of democracy, ethnology, folk law and anthropology, x- ray diffraction, literature reviews in art history, and construction management.

While the number of reference questions asked was few, almost all entailed in-depth research assistance. There were very few quick reference or access services related questions. Questions that were referred to libraries included directing the patron to the Library of Science and Medicine to obtain a 1991 citation, sending the patron to Libraries administration for assistance, and other inquiries.

The Outpost Services Team was pleased to give this novel approach to library service a test run. Members of the team welcome feedback from colleagues to help envision the future of this program. Please send comments to Stephanie Tama- Bartels at stama@rci.rutgers.edu.

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Libraries Leader Published

Congratulations go to Grace Agnew, Associate University Librarian for Digital Library Systems, for the publication of "Federated Digital Rights Management: A Proposed DRM Solution for Research and Education" which appeared in the July/August 2002 issue of D-Lib Magazine. Grace co-authored the article with Mairead Martin, Director of Advanced Internet Technologies, University of Tennessee, and staff of AIT.

D-Lib Magazine is a highly respected online journal that covers the digital library landscape. It is produced by the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) and can be freely accessed at http://www.dlib.org/

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Jackhammers Outside
Alexander Library?

Demolition underway on the SCILS bridge/walkway, in late July.

After a few noisy days, a familiar site to staff, librarians, and students who frequent the Alexander Library was gone.

University facilities workers determined that the covered concrete bridge/walkway linking the SCILS building to the broad common area outside Alexander Library had become unsafe due to rapid deterioration of the concrete and corrosion of the reinforcing bars within the concrete. University workers demolished the unsound structure in the last weeks of July.

Rutgers' Facilities senior project manager Alvin Schneider reports that a replacement bridge/covered walkway span should be completed by the start of the fall 2002 semester. The preliminary design calls for a concrete walkway with a glass cover on steel columns.

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Got Technology? Done research? Need to get it published?

LITA's Information Technology & Libraries (ITAL) journal invites article/paper submissions in the area of the use of information technologies in/by libraries. ITAL is a refereed scholarly journal published by the Library and Information Technology Association, a division of the American Library Association. It is published quarterly in hard copy with a Web version that includes TOC, abstracts, full text of selected articles, and full book and software reviews.

Go to http://www.lita.org/ital/index.htm to see past issues and details on submitting manuscripts.

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RU Librarian Wins National Award
for Science Programs

Karen Wenk, Science Digital Initiatives Librarian in the New Brunswick Libraries, applied in June for a grant that would enable the Rutgers University Libraries to become one of fifty pilot sites nationwide to conduct an exciting series of six events focused on cutting edge science. The events would be supported under a joint program of the National Video Resources (NVR) organization, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the American Library Association (ALA), entitled "Research Revolution: The Laboratory and The Shaping of Modern Life."

We are pleased to report that Karen's application was accepted, and the Rutgers University Libraries will start holding the programs in the spring 2003 semester.

The "Research Revolution" project aims to increase the public's understanding of scientific discovery and technological transformations that took place in the twentieth century. The project offers fifty libraries the opportunity and resources to present a series of community programs on these themes and consists of screenings of award-winning documentary films, supported by scholar-led discussion and extensive suggested reading lists. The six programs in the series are: "Research Revolution: Introduction," "Visions of the Atomic Age," "The Secrets of Ourselves: Breaking the Code of Inheritance," "Doing Something About the Weather," "The Technology of the Mind: Modern Psychology and its Application," and "Cyborg."

We are fortunate that Dr. Peter Day will be the lead scholar for the project. Dr. Day is, among other credits, the founder of the Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment (BIOTECH) at Cook College. The Friends of the Rutgers University Libraries have also offered support for this project.

We congratulate Karen Wenk on her winning application and look forward to the video screenings and discussions.

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James P. Niessen Wins 2002 Coutts Nijhoff Award

The jury appointed to select the winner of the 2002 Coutts Nijhoff International Western European Study Grant convened at the 2002 ALA Annual Meeting in Atlanta to review applications for this year's award. The jury selected the entry submitted by James P. Niessen, World History Librarian at the Alexander Library, for his research proposal "German Acquisitions in Hungarian Research Libraries: Cooperative Collection Development in the Twentieth Century."

Jim's project will employ a sampling technique to chart the history of German-language holdings in three Budapest libraries. By focusing on just four imprint years for German books--1900, 1930, 1960, and 1990 -- Jim hopes to provide a quantitative basis for an examination of these library collections as a barometer of German cultural influence in Hungary. Comparative holdings and the libraries' archives and publications will support an investigation of cooperative collection development among the premier research libraries in Hungary's capital city.

With the support of the Coutts Nijhoff International Western European Study Grant, Jim will carry out his research primarily in Berlin and Budapest. Among a number of strong applications, the jury especially lauded the thorough elucidation of Jim's proposal, the applicant's attention to methodology, and the potential for the project to take library data as evidence for understanding the complex history of German cultural influence on Hungary - a question of historical interest both in Hungary and abroad.

This year's jury was composed of Jeffrey Garrett of Northwestern University (chair), Jeffry Larson of Yale University, Ineke Middeldorp-Crispijn of Coutts Nijhoff International, Beth Remak-Honnef, University of California--Santa Cruz, and Stephen Wilson, President of Coutts Library Services of North America. The Coutts Nijhoff International Western European Study Grant is the result of the generosity of Coutts Nijhoff International of Leiden, Netherlands, founded this spring when the former books division of Martinus Nijhoff International was acquired by Coutts Information Services Ltd from Swets Blackwell. For further information on the Coutts Nijhoff International Western European Study Grant, see the award description at http://www.ala.org/acrl/nijhoff.html.

For a thorough bibliography of scholarly work that has been performed thanks to this award in the past, visit: http://www.library.upenn.edu/~lehmann/nijhoff.html.

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July 14, 2002
June 16, 2002
The Agenda Archive

Contributors for this issue were Grace Agnew, Gordon Anderson (Chair, Western European Studies Section, ACRL/ALA), Rhonda Marker, Ryoko Toyama, Mary Beth Weber, and Marilyn Wilt. Contributions for future issues of The Agenda should be sent to Harry Glazer, editor of The Agenda, at hglazer@rci.rutgers.edu.