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Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

Collection Services, 1980-2000

Ann Y. McHugo

Technical services provide the foundation on which a library's public services are built. The tasks of collecting, organizing, and preserving the library's resources are the first steps in achieving the Library's mission of supporting the academic enterprise of the institution. When Margaret Otto arrived at the Dartmouth College Library, she found a technical services operation on the threshold of major change, ready and willing to pursue an innovative course under its new director. Located in Baker Library, technical services were centralized-as they continue to be today-and served all libraries within the Dartmouth College Library system. While many essential library activities such as serials check-in, invoice processing, catalog management, and original cataloging were still being handled manually, a number of technical processes had already been automated, and technical services staff were eager to continue the trend.

An active program of collaboration with the Automation Department had resulted in such local initiatives as a computer-generated union list of serials and an acquisitions control system through which purchases and gifts could be tracked from point of order to point of cataloging. Because of Dartmouth's early involvement in the Ohio College Library Consortium (OCLC), an electronic bibliographic utility that the Library joined in 1971, copy cataloging and catalog card production had already been automated. The Library was not only the first in the Northeast to join OCLC, a pioneering move at the time, but it had also taken the controversial step of using paraprofessional staff as catalogers, as a means to create staffing and budget efficiencies (a step, by the way, that was widely adopted in academic libraries nationwide a decade later). Membership in the Research Libraries Group in 1978 further expanded the options for automated shared cataloging as the Library added the RLIN system (Research Libraries Information Network) to its small but growing cache of electronic resources. The technical services divisions were poised to move forward into a new and technologically sophisticated era. Under the forward-looking leadership of Margaret Otto, that is precisely what happened.

In the first years of Margaret's tenure, technical services included the following departments: Order and Receipt (Acquisitions), Central Serials Records (Serials), Original Cataloging, and Catalog Maintenance and Bindery. The units worked collaboratively but independently, using manual or stand-alone automated systems to carry out a wide range of tasks. Orders for new books and journals were typed into the local acquisitions database and the computer-generated order slips were mailed via US mail. The average turnaround time for orders fulfillment was three months. New issues of serials were checked in manually on paper 'Kardex' cards, and public service staff needing information about new issues phoned in their questions to the Serials Department. Cataloging for new books, if unavailable in the OCLC or RLIN databases, was typed onto paper workforms and sent along to a data entry team (a recent incarnation of the traditional typing pool) for keying into the OCLC database. Catalog cards (300,000 per year!) were filed daily into the Baker Library Union catalog and into individual card catalogs in libraries across campus. Holdings were hand-typed onto shelflist cards. The card catalog and the experimental online catalog, launched in 1979, were four to six weeks behind in currency, as electronic records and cards were end-products of data entry into the bibliographic utilities. Annual appropriations were worked out on paper, and the ability to report accurately expenditures in defined subject areas was limited.

Twenty years later, dramatic changes in the technological, business, and information spheres have resulted in a technical services environment that is profoundly different and that serves the Dartmouth College community in exciting new ways. Under the leadership of Margaret Otto, technical operations have incorporated cutting-edge technologies to provide services and resources undreamt of two decades ago.

Five initiatives exemplify the evolution of technical services during the past twenty years: preservation, the online catalog , INNOPAC (the Library's integrated online system), electronic processing, and collection development and electronic resources. The success of each of these endeavors is directly related to the leadership philosophy that Miss Otto brought to the Library, a philosophy that encouraged risk-taking and innovation, a philosophy that stressed the importance of participation of staff at all levels of the organization continuously to examine and improve services and operations.


By the early 1980s, the library world had begun to acknowledge a crisis relating to the physical state of collections. The damaging effects of acid paper, environmental factors such as heat and humidity, and general use (and misuse) by library patrons had placed many library materials at risk. The Dartmouth College Library was committed to take the steps necessary to preserve its extensive, and often unique, collections. The Library was one of three academic sites selected to test the Preservation Planning Program of the Office of Management Studies of the Association of Research Libraries. In March 1981, a team of Dartmouth librarians, in consultation with OMS staff, undertook a six-month study to develop a course of action for current and future preservation services for the Library collections. As a result of the study, the Library established a Preservation Committee to provide interim attention to collection needs-such as disaster planning, repair and binding standards, and user education-while working toward the goal of establishing a fully functional preservation unit. That goal was realized in 1994/1995 when an extensive reorganization of technical services was undertaken. With the merger of the Serials and Acquisitions departments into a single Acquisitions Services unit, a professional position was freed up and redefined for a Preservation Services Librarian.

The repair and bindery component of the former Catalog Maintenance and Bindery unit was placed within Preservation Services, and staffing throughout the newly-renamed Collection Services division was reconfigured to provide a corps of personnel for the new unit. Several endowments were established that would produce ongoing funding for the new operation. In 1995 the first Preservation Librarian was appointed, to be followed in 1998 with an additional professional position of Collections Conservator. Over the next several years, the department initiated new services relating to binding options, brittle book replacement, and user education. A system-wide Collections Conservation Roundtable was established under the direction of the Preservation Librarian to provide a forum for broad dissemination of preservation information. New initiatives in preservation technology, such as digitization and de-acidifcation, were launched. Today, book and flat paper conservation are the specialties of the preservation staff, but the department is also a resource for preservation binding, in-house binding, disaster recovery, reformatting of brittle books, and staff training. The move to Berry Library in the summer of 2000 marks the transition to a fully operational Preservation Department, complete with conservation laboratory, and achieves the long-anticipated goal of a preservation program with the personnel and facilities needed to preserve and protect the rich resources of the Dartmouth College Library.


The online catalog

The resources of a library-its books, journals, microforms, and suchlike-can fulfill their purposes only to the degree that their potential users can gain access to them. The principal device used to provide bibliographic access to collections is the card catalog. [1]

While the statement above remains true in essence, the Margaret Otto years will be remembered as the period when the catalog in card form ceased to exist, replaced with an electronic catalog that provided users with a vastly improved potential to identify and use the resources of the Library. More than any other single initiative, the evolution of the Online Catalog symbolizes the great strides taken during the 1980s and 1990s in the use of technology to organize and deliver information.

In 1979, the Library launched an experimental Online Catalog, one of the first to appear in an academic research library. As might be expected, the impact on Technical Services operations was significant, with far-reaching implications for changes in organization, staffing, and workflow. Membership in the RLIN and OCLC bibliographic utilities provided the mechanism to generate electronic records for regular loading into the Online Catalog database. A retrospective conversion program was initiated, to create machine-readable records for materials cataloged prior to 1971 (the year the Library began to use OCLC), resulting in the conversion of all holdings in the Library of Congress classification by 1982, all holdings in the Dewey Decimal classification by 1985, and all holdings in the 'Old Dartmouth' classification by 1986. Having had the foresight to pursue 'recon' actively, the Dartmouth College Library was in an enviable position by the mid-1980s, one of the very few research libraries in the country with cataloging for virtually its entire collection, including the rare books, manuscripts, and archival materials from its Special Collections, online.

Throughout the 1980's, the card catalog co-existed with its online counterpart. Faculty sentiment in favor of the card catalog and the experimental status of the online version were determining factors in providing dual catalogs during that time period. However, as the Online Catalog became more stable technically and more complete in terms of content, and as new groups of students and faculty became familiar with its sophisticated search and retrieval features, its popularity grew. In 1984, records for the Library's serials collection were loaded into the Online Catalog, and the separate microfiche serials catalog was abandoned. This marked the first time in more than a decade that users had a single source to consult for information on the monographs and serials in the Library's collection. In 1985, records for 'In Process' materials (those on order, or received but not yet cataloged) were added to the electronic database. In 1986, Dartmouth's serials cataloging records were loaded into RLIN, and serials cataloging moved from a local process to an RLIN-based workflow. Catalog cards for new serials were not generated, intentionally establishing the Online Catalog as the database of record for information about the Library's serial holdings.

Throughout this time, maintenance of the card catalogs continued. Cards were filed daily into the Baker union catalogs, as well as into catalogs at each of the affiliated libraries on campus. Maintenance of the card catalogs was a labor- and time-intensive operation, made more so by the adoption in 1981 of a new national cataloging standard, The Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2d edition. The AACR2 standard required that changes be made to a large majority of the name headings in the catalog. The authority control program for the card catalog was stepped up, to identify, correct, and provide cross-references to the new authorized forms of entry. The LAE, or List of Adjusted Entries, a program developed by the Automation Department, was used to manage authority control operations for the remainder of the card catalog's existence. (Ironically, the technical structure of the Online Catalog precluded the implementation of authority control in that database. At the time of its development, the designers felt that a keyworded database with flexible searching capabilities would obviate the need for authority control in the online environment.) By 1989, card catalogs in many of the affiliated libraries were closing, as staff and users clearly preferred the enhanced capabilities of the electronic catalog. In 1991, all remaining card catalogs were closed, including the Baker Library union Author-Title catalog.

Freed of card catalog maintenance responsibilities, technical services departments quickly redeployed staff to activities relating to electronic catalog support and development. The addition of new library facilities for storage, health sciences, and Special Collections and the internal shifting and weeding of materials to relieve overcrowded conditions in the older libraries generated significant ongoing projects in reclassification, transfer, discard, and withdrawal, all requiring catalog as well as physical volume maintenance. In 1996 the Library contracted with the MARCIVE Company to purchase, on a subscription basis, bibliographic records for titles in the previously uncataloged government documents collection. Loading and maintenance of these records became a new responsibility of Collection Services. The emergence of new types of resources, such as electronic journals, required new strategies and techniques for cataloging, but also created new opportunities for catalog-based information delivery. Once again, the Library was a step ahead of its peers in providing 'hot-linked' access to Web-based information, allowing users to launch Web or Internet sessions directly from the catalog record. The importance of the Web as a repository of information resources led to the Library's involvement with Project CORC, an OCLC-based initiative to create a database of bibliographic records for individual WWW sites. Web pages selected as significant by bibliographers are cataloged via Project CORC and loaded into the Online Catalog and possess the same 'hot-linking' capabilities as other electronic resource records.

As the 1990s drew to a close, the difficult decision was made to replace the locally developed Online Catalog with the OPAC module of the Library's internal processing system. The decision rested on several factors, including the high level of maintenance required by the older system and the lack of valued features such as real-time information and authority control of headings. When the INNOPAC catalog is released for general use, probably sometime in the year 2001, both in character-based and Web-based forms, the Library will finally offer a public online catalog that is fully integrated with the circulation, acquisitions, serials, and cataloging activities of the Library.

INNOPAC: the Library's integrated online system

By 1980, the technical services departments had enthusiastically embraced the notion that full automation of technical processing was the course of the future. As one department head said in her annual report of 1980/1981, 'our goal is evolution toward a more efficient, automated processing unit.' Automation of technical operations offered the means to provide new and faster services as well as the opportunity to use staff (always in short supply!) more effectively. The ongoing collaboration between the Automation Department and technical services continued through the early 1980's, resulting in the development of new automated approaches to tasks such as spine label production, serials fund accounting, and name authority control. Some of the local endeavors were very successful; others were less so. By the mid-1980s, however, it had become clear that technical services operations, and by extension, public services, would be best served by the acquisition of an automated processing system to manage its many complex operations in an integrated fashion. Extensive investigations by library staff and administrators in 1985 and 1986 resulted in the purchase and implementation of the first module of the Innovative Interfaces, Inc., INNOPAC system in 1987. Chosen for its excellent capabilities in fund management and reporting, the acquisitions module was the first step in providing an integrated internal processing system. The addition of the serials control module in 1988 added the capability to manage serials functions, such as check-in, claiming, and binding, in a comprehensive manner not previously possible.

In 1992, the cataloging module was implemented, providing the ability to create and edit cataloging locally, and thus update the public online catalog, which was not a part of the INNOPAC system, in a much more timely fashion. Other modules, such as circulation and materials booking, have been added as available. The final step in the process, currently under review by a system-wide committee of public and technical services staff, is the implementation of the INNOPAC OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog), which will provide complete real-time catalog information to users for the first time in the history of the Library. The presence of the INNOPAC system has transformed technical service operations, eliminating almost all vestiges of the manual processes that had existed for most of the Library's history. Order and claim data are now shipped electronically from INNOPAC into publisher and vendor systems around the world. Invoice data is received electronically and loaded automatically into appropriate payment records, requiring little human intervention. Catalog records for items not found in the utilities are created locally and uploaded; records changes, such as corrections and transfers, appear in the system immediately rather than after a period of weeks. Financial reports provide collection development bibliographers with current fund accounting information, and offer an efficient mechanism for management of the information resources budget. The continually evolving INNOPAC system now offers a graphical-user interface (called Millennium), in addition to the traditional character-based system. Transition to the Millennium modules is on the immediate horizon. Most importantly, the integrated system allows information to be shared, analyzed, and managed quickly and efficiently, which, as workloads have increased disproportionately to staffing levels, has become a critical factor for the organization.

Dartmouth College has long been recognized as a leader in the development and universal availability of computing and networking, and has earned a reputation as an early adopter of new technologies. The Library's technical services departments shared this approach, applying new technologies to internal operations whenever possible. By the beginning of the 1980s Technical Services had embarked on a course of continuous change, regularly testing and implementing new ways to simplify or enhance its services. A brief history of the innovations in automated processing that were adopted during Margaret's tenure demonstrates the exciting pace of change that has become a fact of life for the Library's technical departments.

In 1982, the Serials Department began loading magnetic tape invoices from its major serials vendor, the Faxon Company. The tapes, loaded into a Dartmouth mainframe, provided a database of payment information that significantly reduced staff time spent on invoice processing. Also in 1982, a locally-developed database was launched to provide fund management control for the information resources budget. In 1983, a dedicated line connection was established to Faxon's DataLINX database, allowing for the first time an immediate connection between the Library and the internal database of a major serials vendor. While none of these initiatives was long-lived, they were steppingstones to future innovations in technical processing and exemplified the adventurous spirit of the Library. The first Macintosh computers (one per department!) were introduced in 1984 for desktop computing, expanding the hardware landscape beyond the several IBM PCs previously installed as dedicated terminals for OCLC and RLIN cataloging operations. The online Serials Worklist (SWRK) was developed as a tool for editing and reproducing the computer-based union list of serials. In 1986 the Acme Bindery's ABLE system, a stand-alone binding information management system, was implemented to simplify and bring consistency to commercial binding operations. 1987 witnessed the beginning of a decade-long implementation period for the various modules of the INNOPAC system. In 1988 a mechanism to move records in real-time from RLIN to INNOPAC ( the 'PASS' feature) was implemented, allowing copy cataloging operations to speed up substantially.

In 1989, check-in for health sciences, business, and engineering journals was distributed to specially trained staff at those sites, thereby decreasing the time it took to deliver new journal issues into the hands of patrons. In 1991, the Serials Department launched an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) program with the Faxon Company, the first of its kind in the academic library world, to send serials claim information electronically into the vendor's database. The EDI milestone was followed in 1993 with the local development of the Invoice Import program, which, using the EDI capabilities of Innopac, allowed invoice data to be shipped electronically into the Oracle database of the College Controller. This revolutionary step meant that invoice handling time was reduced dramatically, re-keying and manual coding errors were eliminated, and data were transferred instantly and accurately into the College's financial system. Again, the Dartmouth College Library was one of the first in the country to implement such a process. 1993 was also the year in which desktop computing became available for every staff member in Technical Services. All staff had Macintoshes and began to incorporate computer capabilities into workflow re-design, such as the creation of online forms and the use of electronic mail for communication with vendors and publishers. The conversion of all manual serials check-in records into INNOPAC was completed in 1994; the Kardex was eliminated entirely, and control of the Library's collection of 19,000 current and 25,000 closed serials became a fully automated activity.

In 1995, technical processing operations took another leap forward with the utilization of file transfer protocol technology to send and receive invoices, retrieve files of bibliographic records, and deliver reports. In the same year, electronic ordering and invoicing were implemented with publishers and vendors worldwide, and, in response to emerging e-business practices, credit cards replaced the traditional purchase order and invoice model for some types of materials purchasing. Most significantly during that year, World Wide Web services, such as electronic bookstores, vendor and publisher databases, and bibliographic resources, rapidly escalated in number and importance and resoundingly established the Web as a primary tool for activities throughout Technical (now Collection) Services. Most recently, Collection Services has moved from an entirely Macintosh platform to a predominately PC platform in order to use tools, such as the Cataloger's Workstation, or the OCLC Record Export process, that have become essential in managing a workload that continues to increase in volume and complexity. The importance of the Web for Collections Services staff continues to grow, as a means not only to find information and execute transactions, but also as a means to deliver information to Library users, through departmental Web pages and the WebPac (the Web-based version of the INNOPAC catalog).

While the decade of the 1980s was marked by steady technological advancement, the decade of the 1990s brought changes that dramatically redefined Collection Services. During that time, innovations in technical processing emerged so quickly that it was often a challenge to keep pace. Nevertheless, when presented with the opportunity to experiment with new processes, the staff of Collection Services welcomed the challenge. As one department head stated in a 1996/1997 annual report, 'we experiment with new technologies when possible to maintain awareness of changes and innovations in the field. Each of the new technologies creates new efficiencies, which translate to improved services.'

Collection management and digital resources

Today, collection management and development-the selection and management of the library's information resources-is thoroughly integrated with Collection Services operations. Library subject bibliographers partner with Collection Services staff to identify, acquire, organize, and maintain information resources that support the institution's academic and research missions.

In 1979, when Margaret began her directorship of the Dartmouth College Library, collection development activities, supported by sixty-two library-designated endowment funds, were managed by a group of six selection officers in Baker Library and five affiliated-library department heads. More than 90% of the materials collected were in print format (the remaining percentage covering microforms and sound recordings). Today, thirty subject bibliographers work with faculty and academic departments to build and manage collections that support expanded curricular and research areas, such as cognitive neuroscience, electro-acoustic music, Latin American and Caribbean studies, and Japanese studies, reflecting the growth of academic programs at Dartmouth. One-hundred-and-sixty-six endowment funds support collection development in the arts and sciences, in addition to twenty-five Special Collections endowments and seven professional school endowments.

The major trend in collection development in academic and research libraries, particularly during the last two decades, has been the growth of digital information resources accompanied by a shift from an ownership to an access model. These changes have had a profound impact on the organization and operation of the Library's collection management and development program.

Given the publication output of academic research, and the volume of published literature from commercial and scholarly presses, research libraries realized by the early 1980s that it was impossible to acquire, house, and maintain comprehensive collections. Materials costs, particularly serials prices, were escalating rapidly, most notably for publications in science, technology, and medicine. Serials prices consumed an ever-larger share of the information resources budget, rising from 28% of the total resources budget in 1968 to 56% of the budget by 1978. With costs outstripping the resources available, the Library undertook a large serials cancellation project in 1980/1981.

During this period the management of serials changed in other ways. For example, in 1983, the serials fund, which had been centrally managed, was divided by subject and allocated to individual bibliographers, giving them greater control over the use of resources supporting their collections and increased responsibility for managing those funds and collections.

With the installation of the acquisitions module of the INNOPAC system in 1987, collection management reports, providing information on appropriations, expenditures and encumbrances, became valuable tools for the collection development process and offered a level of management information previously unavailable to bibliographers and administrators. At the same time collection development responsibilities were distributed much more broadly among the Library's professional staff. To meet the demands of collecting resources in this complex environment, a flexible structure for group decision-making was implemented for the Library system.

By the early 1990s, spending patterns and collecting trends had shifted to acquiring information in digital formats, with a much stronger emphasis on access. At the start of the decade, less than 1% of collection development funds was spent to buy or provide access to digital resources. By 2000, the figures had changed significantly: 24% of the information resources budget was spent on print monographs; 56% on print serials, and 20% on digital resources, with most of the growth occurring in the last three years.

Presently the most rapid growth in digital information resources is occurring in the serial literature and the associated tools that provide access to this literature, such as abstracting and indexing services. Further, the World Wide Web has quickly become the preferred channel for the delivery of digital information.

A major report prepared by Library staff in 1999 confirmed that the 'two major factors affecting collection development are the increased need to invest in access to a growing body of digital resources and the rising cost of those resources (which is increasing annually at a rate more than double the annual inflation rate).' The escalating cost for digital information also encouraged-in fact required-a growing degree of inter-institutional cooperation, because individual libraries could no longer afford the high costs of electronic products, particularly the large packages from the pre-eminent science, medical, and technology publishers and information aggregators. The Dartmouth College Library's membership in the NERL (Northeast Research Libraries) Consortium has made possible the purchase of several critical electronic resources that would have been financially out of reach without the financial strength provided by the consortium.

The rapid growth of digital information resources has exerted a sea-change on the information marketplace, affecting libraries, publishers, and vendors alike. Despite the frequent predictions of the imminent transition to the paperless library, the reality is that print resources will continue to comprise the largest percentage of the Library's information resources budget. In recognition of the continuing and undeniable importance of print resources, it is perhaps appropriate that in 1994 the Library, in adding its two millionth acquisition to the collection, chose a printed collection, the Edward Sine 1951 Collection of British Illustrated Books, rather than an electronic item, in celebration of this notable event.

[1] 'The Lathem Decade,' Dartmouth College Library Bulletin, n.s. 19, Special Number (September 1979), 5.