Technical Services Event 2016

On 20 April 2016, around forty staff from the technical services areas of the WAGUL libraries met at Curtin University for this annual event. Curtin’s University Librarian, Catherine Clark, welcomed participants and noted the importance and topicality of the day’s themes. Catherine also took the opportunity to introduce the new WAGUL website, and was able to stay for part of the morning’s activities.

The first topic for the day was how the different libraries were managing monograph acquisitions following the end of the WAGUL consortial purchasing agreement in December 2014. Libraries have mostly consolidated purchasing with one or other of the previous vendors (YBP and Coutts), and are also using patron-driven models to a greater or lesser extent, depending on budget. There was much discussion about the best way to buy Australian materials, which are not felt to be handled well by the major overseas suppliers, even though these overall provide better workflows and better integrations with library systems than local suppliers.

This session was followed by a workshop on performance indicators for technical services. Different groups considered the questions: What can/should we measure? What is the ideal level of service? What is an acceptable or realistic level of service? As they relate to different areas of technical services work: monographs collection development and acquisitions, subscriptions collection development and acquisitions, cataloguing and discovery, resource sharing, and reserve and reading lists. While there was not time during the event to come to any definite conclusions, the workshop session led to some interesting discussion. The notes have since been circulated to assist with further work in this area.

The third session addressed the topic of collection development with a falling Australian dollar. All libraries are in a similar position in 2016, with sharply reduced spending power. There is thus a renewed emphasis on ensuring value for money, and making sure that that systematic procedures are in place to identify cancellations. Collection and collation of statistics through systems like Intota Assessment and Ustat has become particularly important.

The morning concluded with a series of presentations about electronic reserve and the provision of student reading lists. This is currently an area of significant innovation as libraries investigate and implement new generation systems, including Leganto and Talis Aspire, to streamline processing and improve the student experience.

The event produced a good deal of valuable discussion on each of the selected themes, with active participation from all libraries and across all work levels, and was an excellent opportunity for making and renewing contacts.

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