Literature review/historical background
From the technical services standpoint, Hopkins noted early articles in library literature
focused on the relationship with the World Wide Web (WWW) and the online public access
catalog (OPAC) . With machine-readable cataloging (MARC) intact, cataloging and serials
seemed perfectly poised to make a smooth transfer into this new realm of librarianship. Terms
such as WWW, URL (Uniform Resource Locator), Telnet, and Gopher evoked great
expectations of this new technology and what it would bring to the workplace. Henderson
describes how acquisition departments found Web sites dedicated to locating and ordering
materials very useful . Expansion of these services soon flourished with another great
benefit, as noted by McCoy, when vendors began to allow online ordering . McCoy also
warned that paying online via credit card for such convenience can be a risky behavior, which
shows how rapidly technology is evolving when one considers that today so much banking is
done electronically !
With the onslaught of this new Web technology came ease of communication. Perhaps the
most helpful online tool comes directly from the users themselves, the listserv . Today
there are hundreds, if not thousands, of these electronic discussion lists that aid the flow of
information. Groups range in topics from all-encompassing, such as the Library Cataloging
and Authorities Discussion Group (AUTOCAT) that covers all aspects of cataloging issues, to
narrower subsets, as with the Cooperative Cataloging Arrangements Between Libraries
Discussion Group (COOPCAT). These mechanisms are useful not only for problem solving,
but also as a means to stay current in the literature and with new trends .
Access in the form of who could or should use these new resources was also an
emerging issue. With Internet access came surfing the Web—people soon realized that time
slips away easily as one magically links from one site to another. Library managers and
supervisors questioned the need for support staff to find practical use in these online tools.
396 D. Groves / Libr. Coll. Acq. & Tech. Serv. 29 (2005) 395–402
In regard to time management and productivity issues, Landesman and Oberg reported
from a 1995 North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) conference workshop that
bmembers of the audience generally agreed on the importance of encouraging staff to learn
how to navigate the Internet, yet concern was voiced as to whether all staff need to be
involvedQ . However, McCoy described electronic access as a bconferenceQ from your
seat where support staff becomes involved in discussions and debates, thus contributing to
staff improvement and growth . Additional benefits include participation in professional
development activities and continuing education opportunities without incurring travel
As more people were exposed to this fast-paced and exciting new technology, technical
services librarians began to harness these resources and use them for their specific needs,
thus creating their own Web pages. Terry, Greenblatt, and Hashert stated reasons for
creating such a page: (1) centralization of information, (2) currency, (3) customization, (4)
efficiency, and (5) communication. A natural transition occurred from the generalized,
contact-information-only Web pages to more specific pages dedicated to specific work
divisions and tasks . Brown gave examples of useful information an acquisition
librarian might include, such as collection development announcements, collection statistics,
and links to other libraries Web pages for other helpful links . She went on to say, bBy
creating a local collection of Web resources, we can customize that collection to best meet
the needs of our communityQ . This community includes not only customers, but
librarians as well. Apart from specific areas, technical services departmental Web pages in
general make it easy to dispense the most current and up-to-date documentation,
departmental goals, and annual reports along with the possibility to highlight special
The task of creating a Web page is something to be carefully planned in order to ensure a
well-designed and functioning site.
5 Consideration should be given to who will create and maintain the site and who will be
allowed access, as well as why it should be created in the first place, who will be the target
audience, and what types of information will be included [14,15].
5 The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) located in Singapore described outcomes
from the development of their cataloging department Web page as providing access to
documentation and online resources, department policies, training and work procedures,
and a bcannedQ tour of the department .
5 Blosser, Hagan, and Zhang listed many Web sites for the serial cataloger to consider when
developing a site . They divided these into three categories: (1) How to, (2) Support
[documentation], and (3) Editorial [references].
5 The development of the University of Cincinnati’s technical services Web page resulted in
the assurance that all employees have access to the same information and or documentation
and that it could be easily kept up-to-date .
A study by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) conducted in 2003 showed that of
the 60 randomly sampled, only 12 had a technical services Web page . The study
D. Groves / Libr. Coll. Acq. & Tech. Serv. 29 (2005) 395–402 397
concluded that the overall size of the library has a direct correlation with the existence of a
technical services departmental Web page.
The next logical step is the types of tools that are included on technical services Web
pages. Chressanthis and Wesley conducted a survey of 40 similar size technical services
Web sites and discovered that 27 institutions had pages beyond the essential contact
information . Of these, 19 included external links with a combined total of 2164 unique
links. In December 2002, Mundle, Zhao, and Bangalore looked at 10 consortium libraries
cataloging department Web pages . They found that most pages were simple in design.
Nine sites held external links including links to online cataloging tools, eight cataloging
department pages held links to local documentation, yet only three linked to professional
literature, and only two provided links to professional organizations. Apparently, then no
continuity exists for the information or links provided through library technical services
The technical services areas of academic libraries primarily serve the same purpose, to
acquire and to provide access to library materials; therefore, it stands to reason that the same
basic online work tools would be utilized. However, this does not seem to be happening—
similarities in purpose are not reflected in the use of similar online work tools. This paper will
further investigate this phenomenon of inconsistent technical services online work tools.