OCLC RLIN Technical Services Evaluation Working Group: Rationale and Charge


A bibliographic utility provides a critical underpinning for the acquisition, cataloging, processing, and systems support for materials provided to our users. The services and capabilities of a bibliographic utility are of critical importance for workflow efficiency and level of service. In addition, such services as pre-processing and shelf-ready services have the potential for minimizing the impact of current staffing shortages. Finally, the effectiveness of SIRSI Unicorn, the Libraries' integrated library system, is impacted by the bibliographic utility employed, particularly given Sirsi's plans to support MARC and Dublin Core metadata schema in the near future.

Currently, RUL uses the RLIN bibliographic utility exclusively to for finding and utilizing catalog records. This is an uncommon practice among research libraries and merits review. Critical issues for RUL include a substantial backlog of uncataloged materials, a substantial number of manually cataloged materials requiring retrospective conversion and serious staff shortages resulting from the state's early retirement incentive program. In addition, advances have been made by bibliographic utilities, materials vendors, and the SIRSI integrated library system for the support of outsourcing materials. An intensive and periodic review of RUL's large support systems represents good management practice generally and is currently a critical need to support new workflow for changed circumstances.


A project team consisting of three functional committees and a business model, vision and responsiveness committee (joint committee with Public Services) will examine RUL's current use of RLIN and potential uses of OCLC, to recommend the appropriate use of both bibliographic utilities for RUL's current needs. The expected outcome will be the use of both utilities to maximize the strengths of each utility and minimize the weaknesses, to provide the optimum support for RUL technical services practice. Basic questions to be answered in the review are listed below:

  1. Cataloging functionality
    1. What percentage of Rutgers materials are collected and cataloged by other members?
    2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of master record (OCLC) and multiple record (RLIN) philosophies?
    3. What search strategies and display formats are supported for bibliographic and authority files?
    4. How easy is it to create and edit MARC records?
    5. What macros, templates, keyboard and other shortcuts are provided for catalogers?
    6. How is NACO participation supported?
    7. How is non-Roman script cataloging supported?
  2. Associated TS value added
    1. Can we print RUL spine labels?
    2. Can we take advantage of pre-processing?
    3. How does utility interface with RUL vendors?
    4. How does utility support ongoing RUL recon activity?
  3. Maintenance requirements
    1. How much work is involved in bibliographic maintenance of archived records?
    2. How are holdings set and deleted?
  4. Hardware, software and system interface
    1. What are the hardware and software platform requirements?
    2. How does utility work in a network environment?
    3. How are files imported, exported between utility and RUL?
    4. Can catalogers manage local files at the desktop?
    5. Does utility support batching and offline work?
    6. How are holdings set?
  5. Training
    1. What training and workshop opportunities are provided?
    2. Is documentation readily available and adequate?
  6. Governance and administration
    1. What are the utility's long-range and short-range plans with regard to cataloging and technical services?
    2. How do members influence governance and direction?
    3. How responsive are sales and accounting staffs?
    4. Where are the utility's research and development focused?
    5. Does the utility encourage or discourage use of other utilities and services?
  7. Costs
    1. What are the potential one-time costs?
    2. What are the ongoing costs?
    3. What are the hidden costs?

Grace Agnew, AUL for Digital Library Systems, will serve as chair of the Project Team. Three technical services committees have been appointed-Cataloging, Data Management, Acquisitions Support and Value Added Services, as well as a joint technical and public services committee-Vision, Business Plan and General Responsiveness, to examine various aspects of the offerings, practices and future developments for each bibliographic utility.

Final Reports, including a "Next Steps" document with timeline are due no later than the end of September 2002. The working group reports to the Technical Services Council and will report their findings to the TSC at the October 2002 meeting.

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