Cultivating IT skills at Cornell’s Library Technical
Services or "how to facilitate a dance like Pina?"
Boaz Nadav-Manes
Director, Acquisitions and Automated Technical Services
Philosophy Selector
Cornell University Library
Library Technical Services
Setting the stage: Cornell Technical Services and IT
"Technical Services" vs. "Automated Technical Services".
History of innovative co-development.
Reporting lines (not much "red tape").
Staff reductions through attrition, early retirements and some
• Transition to electronic.
Guiding steps
Not everything in TS can be automated.
TS Staff are enthusiastic about automatic tools if they are the ones to contribute in
developing them and they are the ones to operate them.
Institutional history and “traditional” experience count! As you move forward
emphasize more your core values of service and train (not necessarily hire) for higher
level positions.
You don’t need to be a code expert as long as you know how to logically describe
and write a scope for the solution.
Scalability and Flexibility are keys for good solutions.
Work collaboratively – invite others to contribute and to lead projects.
Most of the automatic solutions are not "ground breaking" from the start - they
relieve some marginal FTE counts that add up later on.
The most efficient way is not always the best way (resources, time, and politics are
very important!)
Understand culture and context.
Risk taking (and assessment to follow).
Investigate local workarounds - "what else can
be done with this feature?".
The most qualified person is not always the
best person to lead innovation ("project
manager", "project champion", "IT lead", "TS
Cross-train staff and create occasions and time
to share ideas.
Normalize expectations again and again.
Talk with vendors and colleagues.
Enthusiastically build on grassroots efforts!
Practice together
General Training for all staff on how to use
and design MS-Access reports to streamline
TS processes:
Automatic claims (is there a note in PO?)
Open purchase orders
How much you spent with whom?
Who has done what and when?
Have a user’s group - teach each other.
Coutts deposits
records weekly in
FTP site (sends
notification to ltsbulkl)
WCL: “Click here to
request Cornell University
Library to purchase for
Patron Driven Book
Flowchart (12/4/10
TS batch loads: dedups +
adds local 899:
couttspdbappr and other
fields (008 field positions
20-21, 506,906) and WCL
URL’S in 856
net id
TS receives, rush processnotifies access services
Coutts: invoices CLO in the
end of the month
TS pays and changes local
WEB-BASED: Hello [patron] +
shows summary of request +
“Click confirm to request Cornell
University Library to purchase the
item below”
Coutts locates and ships to
Coutts PO’S
automatically created
(using embedded id
number) with req info
(future loc’s are added)
TS: in 24 hours chron
job emails patron
confirming order.
NO (>
Amazon PO’S
created with req info
(future loc’s are
TS removes 899:
couttspdbappr and other
fields (008 field positions 2021, 506,906) and WCL URL’S in
PD E-batch loads dedups
against 035 in PDB and
generates a list to be
WEB-BASED: “sorry
your net id is not valid
– return to browse?”
WEB-BASED: “We are
ordering [title] for you
Ordering: rush orders the
title using the dummy po
TS: chron job emails
patron confirming order.
TS receives, rush process
-notifies access services
Choose accessories
For big projects - adopt Project Management tools (like JIRA)
Πάντα ῥεῖ
Get into (some) Project Management methodology
(SCRUM AGILE) and technical terminology (APIs)
Create ecosystems
Work on tools that have value beyond TS:
POOF! – Pre-Ordering Online Form
An online tool that automates the largely manual steps required to review and place an order for an item in all formats.
4536 orders as of yesterday - around 40% of our non WCS orders.
The system is built with Drupal, uses queries that acquire bibliographic metadata from WorldCat and present it in a user
friendly fashion.
Subject specialists in both Columbia and Cornell can review the bibliographical information and discover if an item is
already held by the other 2CUL partner.
The specialist is also able to order, reject, or defer an item for additional review.
A preset matrix determines where the purchase will be made from (based on variables within the metadata associated
with the material to be purchased.)
Various scripts enact the decisions in the appropriate system that will create the acquisitions record and purchase order.
The tool provides avenues for subject specialists to interact across institutions with each other (and with contributing
vendors) regarding the value of the items reviewed, ranking them in terms of their usefulness, and adding comments.
Maximize simple building blocks (metadata)
1. SSH-Secure Shell using Pre-written Scripts:
Commands perform tasks quickly, but offer
limited flexibility for record quality and script
2. LS-Tools Web Interface
Greater flexibility for accommodating new
vendor plans and modifications of records.
3. Combinations of above, adding Perl scripts,
OCLC Batch-searching, Z39.50 protocol;
and/or MARC-Edit Tool
More complex operation, but results in better
quality of loaded records.
Friendly Interfaces allow non-experts to participate:
Locally designed “LS-Tools” Web Interface
Consists of 3 main steps:
General Import of record files to LS-Tools
Modification of files to suit our needs (adding appropriate 948 fields, deleting
unneeded fields, etc.)
Bulk Import of newly modified records, to be loaded into Voyager in SSH.
Benefits over basic SSH commands: not programmer dependent for new
vendor’s files; greater control with a “do-it-yourself” approach.
Use pre-existing tools:
Opens MARC files into temporary
“MRK” files that can be edited (then
compiled back into MARC)
Using MarcEdit for a more ‘surgical’ approach
Mix and match tools and approaches:
Using ISBN Extract with Batch Searching in OCLC
After retrieving a MARC file from vednor’s FTP, ISBN-Extract command
creates a “.txt” file of ISBNs in a list, and sends it to a designated folder
ISBN File is batch-loaded into OCLC to be searched & exported to Local files.
Cultivate outside the box thinking:
Using PERL Scripts when MARC files are unavailable
Script is designed to navigate to Website, enter password, and
extract lists of LCCNs from a set of framed pages.
Extracting LCCN lists as “.txt” for all un-received LC Jakarta
LCCN Text files are sent directly to relevant vendor folder,
pre sorted by country (IO, MY, PH, BR, TH).
Allow experts to review exceptions in rotation.
Communal deposit of itterative procedures.
Publicly Acknowledge Success
Market the New Skills Gained to Other Library Groups
Contact information: [email protected]

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