MIT Reports to the President 1994-95


"This is not business as usual. Our profession will change radically within the next five years. As an organization and as individuals, we will need to be nimble and flexible: learning while doing, experimenting while planning, embracing the new while preserving the old."

MIT Libraries Strategic Plan Update, December 1994

The accomplishments of the Collection Services staff during 1994/95 reflect all aspects of this vision, articulated in last year's strategic plan.


A nimble and flexible response to the discontinuation of the development of the NOTIS Horizon System was a hallmark of the entire library system this year, and nowhere more so than in Collection Services. During the first months of the year, several staff were involved in the selection decision for a different system, GEAC Advance. When that decision was made, and an implementation goal of July 1995 was established, there were approximately six months remaining to plan for, test, and bring up the entire system. Almost all Collections Services staff have been involved in this process to some degree, ranging from modest to all-consuming. Several staff members worked intensely on formal implementation teams, others spent time extensively testing migration data as well as system functionality, while some spent time more informally poking and prodding the system, trying out documentation, discussing workflow implications, and generally supporting the process.

A key factor in success was the early agreement on a guiding principle: to bring up Advance using current workflow as much as possible, (with full understanding that we will need to work for some time after implementation to seek out the most effective workflow that the new system permits). However, there were several processes which did need to be radically changed due to Advance limitations or, alternatively, irresistible opportunities. Chief in the latter category are the opportunity to download catalog records from OCLC via ftp, in lieu of tape-loading, and the opportunity for first-time automation of serials acquisition and check-in.

At the close of the fiscal year we are well on the way to live operation of Geac Advance, if not in July at least during the summer months, and have already initiated the first co-development team work with Geac on the client-server product, our next system! The coming year promises to be almost as challenging as the previous one as we work to adjust our processes and procedures to take maximum advantage of the features of Advance and simultaneously participate in planning the client-server product. It is clear that "nimble and flexible" will need to be permanent attributes.


Geac Advance training sessions dominated our staff-training activities this year. A section head in serials cataloging was asked to coordinate library-wide training for the new system. Weekly "open lab hours" to introduce various modules and functions to the entire staff were a key feature of this training program. All staff members in acquisitions and cataloging have been involved, either as teachers or learners, in group and individual training sessions. Several overviews or status reports were presented to staff from the Divisional Libraries.

In addition to the intensive Advance training, one of the Collection Services departments, Bibliographic Access Services, also addressed the ongoing need for staff training in computer literacy with great success. In September, several volunteers from the Copy-based Cataloging and Database Maintenance Sections responded to the Department Head's request and formed the Computer Literacy Task Force. During the fall months, the Task Force conducted an inventory of computer skills, completed a needs analysis, and devised a training plan which they then instituted for the entire BAS staff. The goal of the task force was to bring everyone in the department up to a level of computer literacy that met the routine demands of their work. The basis of their program was brief, incremental, one-on-one training sessions, taught at the staff member's own workstation. Thus far, the following training sessions have been conducted:

The Task Force was the recipient of a Library Council Special Achievement Award, in recognition of developing this model training program.


A serials cataloger, a monographs cataloger, and the Associate Director for Collection Services formed a project team to participate in the OCLC Internet Cataloging Project (Intercat). This 18 month pilot project "initiates a nationwide, coordinated effort among libraries and institutions of higher education to create, implement, test, and evaluate a searchable database of USMARC format bibliographic records, complete with electronic location and access information, for Internet-accessible materials." Contributing records to this national project has proved to be an excellent method to discover the cataloging issues which need to be resolved locally and has led to the establishment of an Electronic Resources Cataloging Policy Group.


Responding to electronic publication and dissemination of information is clearly the biggest new challenge for the entire library profession and for every individual library. Collection Services staff and several library groups are becoming increasingly involved in managing electronic publications.

In addition to the participation in Intercat mentioned above, several staff members in serials cataloging developed new skills through a project to catalog 47 CD-Rom government documents in the Dewey Library collection. Several staff in Collection Services departments learned HTML coding, and key acquisitions and cataloging working resources are now available on the Libraries' staff WEB. In addition, acquisitions staff members are actively using WEB resources provided by vendors and publishers and are transmitting orders to two major vendors via the Internet.

The Collection Management Group became more involved in evaluating and selecting electronic resources. With OED and Encyclopedia Britannica now up on the campus network, CMG began identifying additional network resources that would be useful at MIT and produced a preliminary list of about 20 products to investigate further (in collaboration with NUT). The Libraries' public WEB pages now include a menu of 10 electronic journals (in addition to Elsevier journals offered experimentally via the TULIP project). GARP established an E-journals Task Force to define and resolve outstanding e-journals issues and draft an e-journals philosophy to guide future activities.


At the same time as the Collection Services staff has been rapidly implementing a new automation system and learning new skills for a transition to electronic resources, they have not only maintained currency in our traditional processes, but have also managed to improve many of them.


* Responsibility for acquiring and processing MIT Publications for all libraries was transferred to the Institute Archives in July 1994.

* Sales of gift materials netted over $25,000 for the Preservation Fund.


Retrospective Conversion


Collection Development

Carol Fleishauer


MIT Reports to the President 1994-95