November 7, 2013

Collaborative Technical Services Team WebEx meeting minutes, October 17, 2013

Collaborative Technical Services Team WebEx meeting minutes
October 17, 2013

 [It should be noted that although the Team discussed the possibility of submitting questions to be included in the Cataloging/Metadata Team survey, no consensus was reached and the questions discussed in these minutes were never sent forward by the Collaborative Technical Services Team.]

Present at the meeting were:  Beth Burnett, Bill Clayton, Bill Walsh, Bob Trotter, Cathy Jeffrey, Chris Huff, Dave Evans, Donna Bennett, Guy Frost, Hallie Pritchett, Jacquiline Vickers.
Cathy Jeffrey welcomed everyone to the meeting. She opened the meeting by requesting approval of the minutes from the previous meeting.  The minutes were approved.  Cathy indicated that the minutes would be posted to the Next Gen Blog. 

Cathy reported that a request for additional members suggested by the committee had been forwarded to Merryll Penson.  At this point one new member has been added.  Miriam Nauenburg, serials librarian from the University of West Georgia will be joining the group.  Cathy reported that several members including Miriam had informed her that they had other commitments for this afternoon and would not be able to attend the meeting.

Cathy reported that there had not been any blog responses to the minutes of the Team’s first meeting.  She asked if members had received the information about the shared Google drive for documents and could access it.  Responses seemed to indicate that Google drive was working.
The first item on the agenda was a discussion of the option to submit questions to be included in the survey that is being prepared by the Cataloging/Metadata Team.  Cathy used a poll to determine support from the group for this collaboration. 

While the polling was taking place Bill Clayton commented that the survey should not be too complicated and should be straight forward.  He said that if we could think of something that would benefit our perspective that we could certainly do that. It was mentioned that currently the Cataloging survey had three questions.

Question:  Do you think that it would be a good idea to contribute questions to the cataloging/metadata survey?
Answer:         yes                  67%
no                   22%
no answer     11%
The majority voted to participate in the survey.   

Cathy shared three potential questions to begin the discussion.  These were based on the discussion the week before regarding shared catalogs and local customizations.

The questions that the group considered were:
1.    Do you believe that moving from individual catalogs to one or more shared catalogs would be:
a.    A very good decision
b.    A good decision
c.    Neutral
d.    A bad decision
e.    A very bad decision

2.    Do you believe that local customization and enhancement of bibliographic records is:
a.    Very helpful to users
b.    Helpful to users
c.    Somewhat helpful to users
d.    Not helpful at all

3.    Would it be important for local customizations and enhancements of bibliographic records to be part of new shared catalogs that replace our individual catalogs.?
a.    Yes
b.    No

Bill Clayton  agreed that the first two questions captured the essence of the previous discussion but worried that there needed to be more context.  He thought that we would get some idea of how the larger community felt about it.  Bill stated that he thought that a shared database was something that we had to consider.  It is not necessarily something that we have to do but it would good to consider if it would be a benefit to us providing more flexibility.  If we think that it could be a benefit then what are the downsides.  Are there other issues besides local customization.  Cathy suggested that an additional question about other potential problems associated with a shared database could be included.  She also suggested that it might be interesting to know how people would respond to these issues today and how they would respond six months or a year from now.  Hallie Pritchett felt that the questions were fine but that there needed to be space to add a comment.  Hallie said that adding an explanation and/or pros and cons for a shared database would be needed.  Bill’s concern was that any explanation should be brief.  Hallie agreed.  Cathy suggested that perhaps Hallie could make some of these changes to the Google document. 

Bill asked what the distinction would be between questions 2 and 3.  Cathy said that question 3 would be associated with the migration of the data.  Hallie suggested combining question 2 and 3.  A discussion of the definition of local customization continued with Guy Frost describing an example from his library.  Guy mentioned that there is a method in the Marc format to add a code that would identify local information but he felt that how that code was implemented by the vendor could vary. He also mentioned some customization that would be useful to everyone – like a contents note enhancement.  Hallie suggested that specific instruction for standardization across the system would be needed.  Guy agreed that having  “best practices” would be a good idea.

Donna Bennett recommended the following information from the Orbis rfp: “the consortium requires a solution which will support a structure of shared records while retaining the ability to add and maintain unique local fields as needed”. She wondered how well the vendor had done at supplying that.

The group continued to discuss how local customization might display in a shared environment. Bob Trotter said that would be a question that we would need to ask the vendor.  Bill Clayton said that we would have customization but it was not clear how the local data would display.  Bill said that he did not think that we knew the answer to that question.  Bob agreed.  Bob went on to say that we currently have more questions than answers about how the information will display.  Bill said that the heart of what we are doing is identifying what the questions are.  Bob said that the Systems Team is looking at the broader questions and will be responsible for making sure that the system will be able to handle what we want it to do.  Bill stated that what he was hearing fairly clearly was “there needs to be a way to display local data to their users.”  Cathy agreed and said that would be one reason for the question.  Bob agreed that was what this team should be doing and it would be up to the System team to make sure that it was possible.

To summarize this discussion the group seemed to agree that questions 2 and 3 should be combined.  The resulting two questions should include a brief explanation of some sort as well as a free text box for comments.

Other survey questions were suggested.
Guy suggested:
Would you support the idea of having system wide best practices?

Bob suggested:
Would you support a centralized processing center?  
Cathy suggested that instead we might ask if there might be support for a larger institution helping a smaller institution with its cataloging and processing.  Bill stated that it is important to make a distinction between what we want to do and what we want the system to be able to do should that ever become a need in the future.  Bob agreed.

Cathy said that in that case perhaps that question would be more appropriate for the rfp rather than the membership.  Bill said that he did not see a reason to include this question in the survey other than to expose this idea to a broader audience.  Bob said that it would need to be phrased correctly.   
Guy felt that this possibility needs to be disseminated publicly because others may have valid reasons why it would not work that we have not considered.  Bob suggested that Merryll might also have an opinion on this question.  Hallie felt that rather than asking about centralized processing we could ask about centralized processing for certain processing for certain aspects like authorities  or formats.   The group agreed that “shared” processing would be a better term. 
Would you see it as beneficial to have shared processing for some cataloging tasks such as authority work?

Cathy suggested
Would you see it as beneficial to have a shared collection development policy for the system?

The next item on the agenda was the rfp template.  Cathy shared a document that she had created to be a starting place.  She asked the question if we should eliminate required features from the discussion of collaboration.  Guy expressed some concern that doing so might mean that the system we ended up with might lack features that we needed.  Bill said that Merryll feels that we can get more information from the process by asking questions than by listing requirements.  Then we get to evaluate the answers and can decide that a vendor’s answers don’t meet our needs.

Bill and Bob stated that the Cloud Team will handle area 4.E which is related to the Cloud computing environment and system functionality.  The Collaborative Technical Services Team should respond to the Functional Areas as they relate to collaboration.

The group discussed briefly how the rfp would be structured.  Bill stated that question regarding collaboration could be included in the rfp in their own section or they could be added to the specific functional area that the question addresses.  That will be determined later.  Cathy summarized that we simply need to come up with the questions and they will be used where they are most appropriate.  Bill agreed that might be correct.  Cathy suggested that perhaps we could develop an introductory description for collaboration and then refer to the functional groups for the requirements and questions.  Bill agreed that might work.

Cathy announced the next meet for Nov. 7 at 12:00 and encouraged everyone to work on the documents.

The meeting was adjourned.

Submitted by
Cathy Jeffrey


  1. Another issue that I see with a shared catalog approach is that the USG does not have ANYTHING in place to support shared processing. I think we would find that shared processing would actually require more staff, more time, and more equipment. It would require a considerable amount of planning to implement a shared catalog structure in which we want acquisitions/cataloging and other technical processes to be done at only a few of our libraries. The ORBIS Alliance already had a working collaborative process when they moved to their new catalog. We don't. That is a huge obstacle. If we could back off of the catalog for a few years and begin to develop and put in place a structure for collaboration that would be a better approach.

    1. I agree that USG is not very close to implementing shared or centralized processing, but I hope there are other ways that we can collaborate for our benefit. A shared database does not have to be the samething as a shared (or single) catalog. USG potentially can have a single shared database in a next gen system, but we can have separate virtual catalogs for each insitution. At this point we are trying to understand our configuration options (and limitations) in these next gen systems. A shared database could offer flexibility -- such as for dealing with ongoing consolidations. We certainly do not have a full understanding at the moment of all single-database implications, but we think we need to explore all our options and look for new approaches and new efficiencies in this rapidly changing environment. A single database does not mean there is any shared processing, and there could be centralized processing for some tasks even if we have 30 individual databases. Shared or centralized processing is a much more complex question than a shared database. Again, a single database may offer us more flexibility as we deal with future needs and changes. What we need to determine is whether there are any significant loses for our users as a result of a single or shared database structure. Our goal at the moment is not to make decisions about how we process or even short-term to make decisions about how many databases we need. Our goal is to determine what we need a next gen system to be able to do for us.

  2. Good point Jenifer! We definitely need to be sure that any collaboration we plan is done in a logical order. Skipping ahead is not a good idea.