ARL gathers statistics from research and college libraries. I no
longer have access to them (they're pay-walled), but it would be worth
looking at them if you do. Personal and anecdotal "evidence" is a start,
but I agree with Maurine that "".
I've done statistical studies for public libraries, since I had access
to data isn't behind a firewall, and there are interesting trends with
the balance between staff and technology if you have a good time-span of
data. It also can be shown that with technology, libraries are "doing
more with less", with "less" being humans. You can look not only at the
# of staff, but of output. This is obviously not a situation that is
unique to libraries - it's true in every industry. I was able to do
cost/return analyses pretty easily, albeit at a high level.
In terms of the work done, it would be hard to compare 1989 to today due
to major changes in the workflow - the greater availability of copy for
cataloging (both with the increase in WorldCat and vendor-provided data)
is a start. Better integration of local systems and sources of
cataloging also makes a difference. I imagine that cataloging modules
today create efficiencies that didn't exist in 1989. Did your library
still have a card catalog? Many did, because they hadn't finished
retrospective conversion. The turn-around with cards probably slowed
things down considerably.
What would be harder to show is how this affects quality and the user
experience. However, a quick EBSCO search shows that some folks in our
profession have addressed this, so there might be some good hints there.
Hopefully some of those address the loss of "MLS" staff and increase of
"para-professionals", and whether or not that affects quality. (I'm not
terribly hopeful that anyone has really good data on that, though. For
an information profession we have too little information about our
On 2/4/17 1:52 PM, Jeff Edmunds wrote:
> Hi Maurine,
> Thanks for your post. The evidence I have to support that assertion is my
> own experience (27+ years at a large academic research library) and
> anecdotal evidence from colleagues (mostly here and at peer
> institutions--large university libraries).
> When I began here in 1989 the Cataloging department had ~50 faculty and
> staff. Today we're down to ~30. What's more, many of those 30 (myself
> included) no longer actively catalog--as academic libraries have been spread
> ever thinner by new initiatives, many folks in all departments have been
> called upon to do other things (Web work, or managing e-resources, to cite
> but two examples).
> Declining collections budgets have convinced some administrators that fewer
> catalogers are needed. We've lost positions to assessment and other newer
> areas as libraries struggle to redefine themselves when the go-to source for
> information remains Google and Wikipedia. We'll be losing two positions this
> year--one a senior cataloger with an international reputation--and we'll
> only be able to rehire one. The unfillable position is an original cataloger
> who catalogs materials for our Engineering and Mathematical and Physical
> Sciences Libraries--both of which support huge colleges at our university.
> In the next 18 months, as a result of a voluntary retirement incentive
> program, my library will be hiring almost 3 dozen positions (student
> engagement, open education, etc.); only one will be coming to Cataloging.
> Ironically, in the Internet age, libraries have more, not fewer, collections
> to manage. The need for quality metadata has never been greater. Which
> brings me back to my original point: one reason RDA and BIBFRAME will not
> enjoy the success or widespread adoption that AACR2 and MARC did is simply
> because they are unwieldy.
> P.S. I have a close friend who has two children currently attending Hillsdale.
>> This has been a highly informative thread for those of us not terribly
> well-versed in the BIBFRAME specifics as they currently stand. Thanks for
> getting it started, Jeff! I was hoping to see one point of clarification to
> your initial post, though, that I haven’t seen yet. Could you cite some of
> the evidence that supports your statement that “The most likely allies of
> LC in moving BIBFRAME forward--large academic or public libraries with
> experienced cataloging staff--are shifting resources AWAY from cataloging
> and into other areas (digital humanities, assessment, student engagement,
> open access, etc.).”? I would not be surprised if that is the case, but
> I’m not sure I’ve seen anything proving it.
> Maurine McCourry, Ph.D.
> Technical Services Librarian
> Hillsdale College, Mossey Library
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