It is the time of year when library managers sharpen their pencils and eye their account balances, looking for efficient and cost-effective ways to apply their FEDLINK funding. Here are three good reasons to put FEDLINK Technical Processing Services at the top of your list for even the smallest surpluses in account funding.
Reason #1: Extended Use of Funds
Consider the fiscal advantage. FEDLINK's technical processing pricing is "deliverables based"that is, prices are quoted on a per-item-cataloged basis, not on a labor or "time and materials" basis. Because of deliverables-based pricing, any library with a bona fide need to have a certain number of items processed this fiscal year may obligate this fiscal year's funds to process those items, even though the finished product may not deliver until after September 30th.
Reason #2: Streamlined Specifications for Small Purchases
Policy pressures continue on all fronts"use commercial services"..."reduce fixed costs"..."get behind-the-scenes staff out there with users." If you have been thinking about using FEDLINK Technical Processing Services, but do not feel ready to dive in, use the remainder of FY98 to test the waters. If your account surpluses are nominal (under $2,500) and you need standardized cataloging for books and serials, you can take advantage of FEDLINK's new streamlined requirements process. This will also give you an opportunity to determine whether "generic" cataloging fits in your systems, or if you will need to specify your local practices. After you have gained some experience and confidence in the process, you may feel better prepared for full blown FY99 use of these services.
Even if you are not a cataloging expert, just call FEDLINK with your requirements and FEDLINK staff will walk you through a brief telephone questionnaire to assist you with the basics, like whether you want Dewey or Library of Congress numbers in your call numbers. Then, select the FEDLINK technical processing vendor of your choice:
Capcon Library Network
If you have no preference, our contracting office will select a vendor for you. Upon receipt of a delivery orderone to three weeksyou and your vendor will begin working together. If you have a larger project with standardized requirements, you may wish to take the time to complete a checklist of standardized specifications. These must be competed among capable vendors; so it will take longer to complete the award.
Reason #3: Progress on FY98 Performance Goals
You can still stay on target with the cataloging goals on your performance plan! If you start working with a FEDLINK technical processing vendor right away, you may be able to meet your objectives before the end of FY98.
FEDLINK can even help you with your reclassification projects for FY98. Under retrospective conversion, vendors will work from your shelflist to match cataloging on OCLC, add your symbol, produce cataloging output (cards or MARC on a variety of carriers), and furnish spine labels. (The U.S. Air Force took advantage of these technical processing services and capitalized on the availability of standard numbers on their shelflist cards. They quickly completed a large reclassification project through CAPCON services at an advantageous price.)
You may even have a "problem shelf" or back closet reserved for the "misbegotten"you need to keep and catalog these items, but lack the time or skills to do the work. On it, you might find materials in languages you are not comfortable withRussian, Japanese, French, or German. Or maybe it is a growing shelf of compact discs, awaiting your training on the OCLC MARC computer files or sound recordings format. Because these materials do require additional vendor expertise, you cannot use FEDLINK's streamlined specifications. But if you start now, and the project is small and manageable, these items can be out where patrons can find and use them by September 30.
FEDLINK Makes Technical Processing Projects Easier
The combination of saving time, money, and effort makes tackling technical processing less daunting. FEDLINK offers a range of assistance to any federal library or information center that wants to clear a backlog and improve cataloging turnaround time.
Electronic Access to Price Lists and Documentation. You now have readily accessible resources to analyze the costs and benefits of the services. FEDLINK technical processing services documents now on the Web page include:
The complete FEDLINK Technical Processing Services Kit, including all of the above plus specifications packages, will be added to the Web this summer. Meanwhile, all members opening "TZ" accounts in preparation for use of these services receive a printed version of the kit.
A Variety of Services Is Available
All FEDLINK vendors conduct work in accordance with technical, performance, and management standards outlined in the FEDLINK BOA for FEDLINK Technical Processing Services. It allows work in eight MARC formats, English and foreign languages, and common library physical processing routines. You may select and combine work in any of four lots, but physical processing is available only if one or more of the other three (cataloging) lots is requested.
Lot 1Original cataloging is required only when the vendor cannot find a matching record for your material in the OCLC Online Union Catalog. Vendors will construct standardized original OCLC MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging) records and contribute them to OCLC with your holdings attached, to further resource sharing on the OCLC Online System.
Lot. 2Copy Cataloging matches your books, serials, and other physical materials (or surrogates of them) to OCLC MARC records extant in the OCLC Online Union Catalog. Upon finding a matching record, the vendor will edit and download the record according to your specifications, for use in your local or union catalog's automated system.
Lot 3Retrospective Conversion processing matches your local cataloging records (generally non-MARC, such as a shelflist card) to OCLC MARC records extant in the OCLC Online Union Catalog. Upon finding a matching record, the vendor will edit and download the record according to your specifications, for use in your local or union catalog's automated system.
Lot 4Physical Processing covers numerous "behind-the-scenes" library routines which add physical units (e.g., labels, protective jackets, piece markings) to your materials to enhance access, to extend shelf life, and to support inventory control.
Four Steps for Initiating FEDLINK Technical Processing Services
If you decide to take advantage of FEDLINK's Technical Processing Services, keep the following in mind:
Make sure you have a current FEDLINK Interagency Agreement (IAG), a FEDLINK OCLC account funded adequately to handle vendor pass-through charges in addition to on-going in-house charges, and an active OCLC cataloging member profile, which the FEDLINK OCLC Information Unit can help you established. Call (202) 707-4800.
Funding and Budgeting
In addition to the per-item cataloging costs in a FEDLINK Technical Processing Services account (Service ID: TZ), a technical processing project has costs for using the OCLC system. These costs are charged to the fiscal year in which the OCLC system is actually used and are funded through your OCLC account, not your account with the technical processing vendor. Both the per-item costs and the OCLC costs should be figured into your budget for the overall project. You would need to establish a "TZ" account with anticipated funding by amending your IAG to add a service with new or transferred funding, or a combination of these.
Specifications and Competition
If you choose not to use FEDLINK's streamlined specifications, you will need to obtain and complete a prepared, detailed, FEDLINK specifications package. FEDLINK staff will work with you to assist you as you identify the number and type of materials requiring processing, select options from the prepared checklists, state vendor selection criteria, and furnish samples and other attachments. Specifications packages offer maximum flexibility within the scope of the BOA, so you may further specify options if necessary, and you may thoroughly describe any "Additional Technical Capabilities" you require, such as German language skills, or expertise with non-print media. Although completing the package takes time the first time around, chances are you will require the same options in later years to fit your existing cataloging system. Allow yourself at least two weeks to complete and submit this package.
Your first step is to establish your FEDLINK TZ account and select a vendor. Remember that FY98 deadlines vary, depending on funding level and complexity of the project. The greater the funding and project complexity, the earlier the deadline.
If funding is under $2,500, the deadline for accounts and specifications is September 4. If funding exceeds $2,500, the deadline is August 14, to allow time for competition and award before the close of the fiscal year. If your criteria are complex, the project exceeds $25,000, and/or you require a best value competition, you must have your specification complete and funding in place by July 1 to accommodate our contracting office and your staff, who will need to participate in the technical review panel.
For additional information, please email Patti Fields, FEDLINK Network Program Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (202) 707-4834.
Resources for Tracking Changing Web Trends
By Jessica Clark
For the last year and a half, this column has covered basic Web site design, usability issues, and related tools and standards. In that time, Web development has blossomed into a multi-million dollar industry, the HTML specification has graduated from versions 2.0 through 3.2 into 4.0, and a host of international bodies and software and hardware designers have presented new and sometimes conflicting solutions for electronic data transfer and display.
The speed of change in the online world is numbing. With limited funds, training, and time, how can federal librarians and information center staff members ensure that the format and function of their Web sites are up-to-date?
Current issues to track
Ongoing challenges faced by federal librarians will include:
The development with the largest potential for disruption of current Web development practices is the promised adoption of XML as the lingua franca of the Web. It is not yet clear how XML will be used to develop new types of database and search engine applications, or whether pages currently coded in HTML will need to be edited to fit the new standard. Proprietary XML coding of page and data elements may lead to a breakdown in interoperability. The role that the XML-based Resource Description Framework (RDF) will play in the implementation of metadata is still being debated.
The truth is (mostly) out there
Many of the much-touted changes in Web and computer technology are incremental. Once you have learned the basics of HTML and network transmission, it is possible to screen out much of the media and marketing frenzy. By regularly checking a few key resources, you can discern which developments are glitz and which will have a larger impact on electronic library services.
Watch the watchers
Several organizations and authors have emerged as reliable monitors of Web development, online policy, and digital libraries. Regular readers of the Tech News column may recognize some of these links; past columns which expand on the issues outlined below are available on the FLICC/FEDLINK Web site (http://www.loc.gov/flicc/technews.html).
Web publications/reference sites:
A few publishers have become well-known for providing reliable, timely Web development books:
HTML and XML standards:
Usability and accessibility:
Firewalls and system security:
Search engines and metadata:
Several national library associations have Web pages which track policy issues affecting libraries and information centers:
Internet policy organizations:
A number of sites address the issues surrounding the creation of digital libraries and report on specific library projects:
Checking out the leaders of the pack
Libraries which serve scientific and technical users tend to be early adopters of new technologies. By surveying sites such as the NIST (http://nvl.nist.gov/) and NASA (http://library.gsfc.nasa.gov/) libraries, you can see cutting-edge Web applications and design applied in the federal context. A list of federal libraries is available on the FLICC/FEDLINK Web site (http://www.loc.gov/flicc/mmissue.html). You might also use this list to take a look at the Web sites of federal libraries similar to your own in size and function.
Query your users
Whether you set up a user survey, issue a monthly email query, or establish an electronic suggestion box, find a way to ask library or information center users for additions or changes to your Web site. Tools such as counters and usage logs may also reveal which sections of your site are popular and which need rethinking.
Meeting user needs is the bottom line in Web site design. Their main concerns are finding useful content, downloading information quickly, and navigating easily through a site. If your site fulfills these requirements, it will be successful whether or not it keeps up with the trends.
OCLC Releases Price Changes for FY98/99
OCLC announced planned price changes for its fiscal year which begins July 1, 1998. The new prices reflect OCLC's strategy of encouraging contribution and resource sharing by raising online transactions one or two cents, and increasing credits for original input, records enhancement, and ILL loans. Because they are increasing credits, OCLC estimates fewer than 10 FEDLINK members should see an increase above 10 percent while another 10 may see an increase of about 5 percent. Increases in original cataloging would counteract these rises.
OCLC will distribute the Access Suite software (Passport for Windows, ILL ME, CatME and CJK) at no charge, but to recover development costs for enhancing the software, telecom charges are going up slightly. The networks felt this approach was a more equitable and streamlined way to recover Access software costs.
FEDLINK has posted the list of most common OCLC charges on the FLICC/FEDLINK Web site (http://www.loc.gov/flicc/prices/oclc9798.html). Libraries that do not have web access can contact FNO for the brief list. FEDLINK will distribute the complete price list in July.
EPIC and FirstSearch to Merge
OCLC plans to integrate the EPIC service with FirstSearch, phasing out the current EPIC interface by July 1999. OCLC sent letters to all EPIC subscribers announcing the change.
FirstSearch offers far more extensive full text and document delivery services than EPIC and offers libraries a link to Interlibrary Loan. FirstSearch has a Web interface which makes searching and moving among displays more efficient and easier. Although some databases in EPIC are only available via subscription in FirstSearch, OCLC continues investigating alternatives.
Prices for the two interfaces are comparable, although FirstSearch is slightly less expensive at its highest price. With FirstSearch, the library has the ability to pre-purchase blocks of searches that are good for two years; if it buys any more blocks during the two years, OCLC resets the clock so that all remaining searches are good for two years from the new purchase date. Since the federal government authorizes prepayment for publications, the FirstSearch arrangement can be better for federal agencies than the "pay-as-you-go" method of EPIC because it simplifies budgeting across fiscal years, which is always problematic in the federal environment.
FirstSearch searching initially was simpler and less powerful than EPIC, but that gap has narrowed as OCLC has upgraded and added advanced searching capabilities to the software. With the installation of FirstSearch, Version 5 later this year, advanced FS searching will be more comparable. By July 1999, OCLC will integrate most EPIC search functionality into FirstSearch, Version 5.
If you have concerns or questions about the integration of these reference services, contact FEDLINK Network Operations at (202) 707-4800.
Academic Press Full Text Now Accessible from FirstSearch
Full-text articles from the 175 journals in the Academic Press IDEAL collection are now available directly from OCLC's server in Dublin, Ohio, through the OCLC FirstSearch Electronic Collections Online Service. OCLC is the first to provide access to Academic Press full text from its own server.
"We look at this as a win-win situation for Academic Press, OCLC and the library community," said Pieter Bolman, president, Academic Press. "It will enable Academic Press to serve libraries better that want the AP content but wish to use the Electronic Collections Online interface. Academic Press is particularly pleased that OCLC is making every effort to preserve publisher and journal identity, while at the same time integrating content from many publishers. IDEAL subscribers will still, however, enjoy the flexibility to choose access either directly to one of the IDEAL servers or via the OCLC Electronic Collections Online Service."
"OCLC is pleased to be the first organization with permission to offer the Academic Press full text directly from its own server," said John Barnes, director, OCLC Electronic Publishing. "Libraries have told us repeatedly that they wish to access electronic journals from a single location and through a common, easy-to-use interface, rather than going to multiple publisher sites. We believe that we can satisfy the needs of both libraries and publishers through the Electronic Collections Online Service. Libraries have access to a broad collection of archived electronic journals, while publishers can maintain their brand identity and integrate their journals with the information sources available through OCLC's FirstSearch and Electronic Collections Online Services."
By offering full-text articles from IDEAL journals on its own server, OCLC provides a new channel for access to the Academic Press collection for IDEAL subscribers who use Electronic Collections Online. Electronic Collections Online offers a permanent archive, journal-level usage statistics, the ability to access the Academic Press collection as part of an aggregation of over 1,200 journals from 28 different publishers, and access through the FirstSearch Web interface.
Over the next few months, OCLC will link Electronic Collections Online full text to other FirstSearch databases, providing Academic Press subscribers with integrated access to their e-journal collections from their most heavily used bibliographic databases.
Authentication has been simplified. IDEAL licensees will not need separate authentication to access their full-text articles through the Electronic Collections Online interface. Once they have logged on to Electronic Collections Online, they will be able to access abstracts and articles for the Academic Press journals they subscribe to, just as they can access articles from any other Electronic Collections Online journal they subscribe to. Electronic Collections Online users will no longer have to leave the Electronic Collections Online interface to retrieve Academic Press full-text articles.
Electronic Collections Online allows libraries to search across hundreds of journals from many different publishers, using a single interface and access point. To meet the needs of its diverse library community, OCLC is aggregating a broad collection of titles in many different subject areas, including life and physical science, social science, and the humanities.
Electronic Collections Online combines the cost benefits associated with aggregated access to data with the advantages of local collection management, reducing information costs for libraries by centralizing storage and access, and enabling libraries to share the cost of loading, archiving and providing access to their electronic journal collections. In addition, Electronic Collections Online offers libraries a number of value-added features, including print-quality article representation, usage statistics, technology migration, and technical and product support.
More information about Electronic Collections Online, including a list of available journals, can be found at http://www.oclc.org/oclc/menu/eco.htm.
Academic Press is a division of Harcourt Brace & Company, a leading, global multiple-media publisher and service provider to established educational, trade and professional markets as well as to emerging career-training, assessment and lifelong learning markets. More information about Academic Press and how to license IDEAL journals is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.apnet.com/www/ap/aboutid.htm.
OCLC Workstation Purchasing Update
OCLC continues to offer a credit of $750 on the purchase of each new Pentium-based OCLC workstation. Orders received through June 30, 1998 will receive the credit on their new workstations reducing the price from $2755 to $2005. OCLC will accept either a purchase order or a government credit card. Regardless of which payment option you choose, all orders must include a completed "Computer Products Request Form." For up-to-the-minute pricing, please call Claudette Watson at OCLC (800-898-6252, ext 6177).
How do your library's automation systems stack up against those in other libraries? A new Web-based survey, designed by the FLICC Information Technology Working Group (ITWG), will help federal librarians examine how information technology (IT) is being used in their organizations and glean information about other libraries' equipment and programs.
The FLICC Information Technology Assessment for Federal Libraries and Information Centers, available on the FLICC/FEDLINK Web site (http://www.loc.gov/flicc/mmissue.html), addresses:
Librarians can complete the four-part survey at their leisure, returning to add answers or updates as they obtain them. Records for each library are password-protected, and information previously entered into each field will be automatically filled in the next time a staff member logs in. The HTML survey form is simple to use, with fields to fill in for unique information and a series of checklists and pull-down menus which allow users to specify common hardware, software, and procedures.
By working through the assessment, librarians will develop a deeper understanding of the scope of the IT applications they are already using, and of the way the library's IT operations are tied into the rest of the agency. The completed survey will provide librarians and information center staff members with a valuable summary of IT resources which can be used as a tool to inform agency managers.
Comparative reports of the survey responsessorted by library type, size, and automation programswill be available on the FLICC/FEDLINK Web site. Federal librarians can use these reports to find institutions with requirements similar to their own to help them benchmark their IT operations, identify other users of particular software and systems, learn from their colleagues' experience, and perhaps establish cooperative systems partnerships. FEDLINK staff members plan to develop a search form which will allow librarians to conduct more focused queries.
In addition, responses to the IT assessment will help the ITWG identify automation issues for FLICC to address in programs and education inititatives. FEDLINK staff members will use the results to hone their plans for training and supporting federal librarians.
Your participation is indispensible. Please visit the survey Web site today, print out a copy of the questionaire for reference, and start collecting answers and entering them into the online form. With your help, the IT Assessment will grow into a valuable ongoing resource for the entire federal library community.
FEDLINK Technical Notes is published by the Federal Library and Information Center Committee. Send suggestions of areas for FLICC attention or for inclusion in FEDLINK Technical Notes to:
Federal Library and Information Center Committee
Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540-4935
Executive Director: Susan Tarr Editor-In-Chief: Robin Hatziyannis
FLICC was established in 1965 (as the Federal Library Committee) by the Library of Congress and the Bureau of the Budget for the purpose of concentrating the intellectual resources of the federal library and related information community. FLICC's goals are: To achieve better utilization of library and information center resources and facilities; to provide more effective planning development, and operation of federal libraries and information centers; to promote an optimum exchange of experience, skill, and resources; to promote more effective service to the nation at large; and to foster relevant educational opportunities.
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Comments: Library of Congress Help Desk (05/15/98)