Content taken from Ohio Library Council's orientation website with permission.
What are technical services?
The technical services department and staff acquire resources and prepare the resources for use. Staff organize the items for the library collection by deciding where each item fits into the collection and then preparing a record of each item to add to the catalog.
Library organization usually means classifying (deciding where an item will be located so that it is with materials on a similar topic) and assigning a location code (call number) to indicate where an item will be physically located in the library. (You will learn more about classification, call numbers, and the catalog on the next few pages.) Much cataloging is "copy cataloging," using pre-existing records from online vendors (like OCLC) so everybody doesn't have to catalog everything, every time!
What would the library be like without technical services to organize materials? Probably it would be like that drawer in your kitchen -- the "everything" drawer where you put all the stuff you don't know what to do with. If you don't have a drawer like that, keep it to yourself. Your perfection will depress your co-workers!
Following are typical examples of technical services. Each process may involve online or Web systems, coordinating the systems to get information about items connected throughout the complete process of selection, purchase, cataloging, and circulation. Technical services also require keeping up with pesky legal stuff such as copyright and licensing agreements so libraries know who can use what source, where, when, and how often.
- Collection Development -- selecting materials such as books, CDs, DVDs, databases, Internet sites, or periodicals (magazines) that library users need.
- Acquisitions or Purchasing -- processing orders and working with vendors (suppliers) to get materials.
- Cataloging -- classifying items and preparing a record of each item for the library's catalog.
- Serials control -- keeping track of the periodicals (magazines) in the library.
- Processing -- many materials arrive unprocessed; for these items, we tag the items with RFID; attach the spine label; wrap books with paper jackets; and do all other necessary processing before putting the materials on the shelf for the public
Which of these technical services are part of the operation of your library and who does them?
What are professionals saying about trends in tech services and about other library trends?