Monday, June 7, 2010

NGTS Phase One Team Reports

Lo and behold. In thinking about the future of the UC libraries in all their ramifications, one finds that much of this work is already being done. And it is a part of the work of streamlining and coordinating the system we work in to make ourselves aware of these initiatives and avoid duplicating them. Specifically, it is worthwhile on the blog to report on the progress of Next Generation Technical Services (NGTS), a project so large that it is easy for an individual librarian to perceive it as "present everywhere and visible nowhere." So a few words on the purpose of NGTS and its progress to date are in order.

NGTS describes its goal as: "[transforming] the technical services processes that acquire, describe, and preserve the wide variety of information resource types in the UC collections." This charge embraces approximately our discussion areas (2) Information Providers (5) Collections (6) Library Networks. Some more specific goals for NGTS out of a long list include:

-Speed processing throughout all technical services functions

-View technical serves as a single system-wide enterprise

-Define success in terms of user's ability to easily find relevant content

The point about ease of user accessibility is one that has loomed large in the literature and has not received a great deal of attention from our discussion thus far.

The NGTS effort which remains in the early stages is organized in a complicated structure of various areas and task forces. As of February 16, 2010, NGTS issued its "Phase One" reports consisting of summaries of the "environmental scans" conducted by its task forces. This material has issued in four recommendations.

Recommendation 1: Develop a financial infrastructure that facilitates intercampus business transactions in support of collaborative and systemwide processes and purchases.

This is acknowledged as the "major barrier" to moving ahead. Currently another task force to pursue this problem is being formed out of various stakeholders.

Recommendation 2: Develop an operational infrastructure and technical services that can function at an enterprise level in support of efficient, non-redundant, and collaborative collections services.

All-important here is the sense of "enterprise level" which the report itself describes as "the most important aspect of this recommendation." Regrettably, the sense of this term is not entirely clear from the report. It appears to be defined in opposition to both "isolated and overly explicit actions" by individual campuses and "systemwide ILS" which would not furnish the "optimum response." Enterprise level operations appear to refer to a kind of middle ground or idealized situation of thinking globally and acting locally. As the report puts it, "enterprise level technical services systems that share a common database that would enable greater efficiency and effectiveness." The sense of the term "enterprise" further suggests a kind of initiative and creativity at the local level. To pursue this, another task force is being charged to study various scenarios.

Recommendation 3: Redefine baseline information access for materials in non-Roman languages, special collections, archives, and digital formats with the focus on end user needs and effective and efficient processes. Propose new modes for organizing and providing access to these materials. Focus on outcomes that provide access to materials thtat are currently in cataloging backlogs.

The report claims that a standard of "good enough" is adequate for the availability of non-Roman materials which now constitute a large backlog of collections--presumably because of the difficulty in translating them. To this end, the report suggests new, more streamlined bibliographic descriptions that will take less time to process. A task group is being formed to study this matter.

Recommendation 4: Coordinate NGTS activities with the work of SOPAG and the Collections Development Committee in developing strategies for re-visioning collection development for the 21st century. Ensure that all forms of digital materials are included.

NGTS recognizes the need to avoid duplication! Accordingly, NGTS defers collection development policy to the Collections Development Committee (CDC). NGTS's specific role will involve "redefining, acquisitions, descriptions, and preservation policies and workflows." In other words processing the materials that the CDC decides to collect. As its action item, NGTS proposes to monitor the CDC and contribute where appropriate.

Next Generation Technical Services. 21st Century Emerging Resources: University of California, 2010. /uls/ngts/docs/Emerging_0310.pdf

NGTS Executive Team. Next Generation Technical Services - Next Steps: University of California, 2010.