Posted by: Steven Harris | May 18, 2008

Phone Home

A couple of weeks ago, I really botched a phone interview. [Undisclosed location–confidentiality] I usually feel like I can deal pretty well with theoretical or hypothetical questions. But for this interview, I was like a deer in the headlights. So, the question was a 3parter:

  • What are the challenges facing library acquisitions and technical services?
  • How would I go about resolving the problem?
  • What would I give up in order to meet the new requirements?

So, the major challenge I see (primarily from the acquisitions point of view) is the transition to a primarily electronic collection. The main reason for this is that many acquisitions procedures are designed for acquiring physical objects. Ordering, receiving, checking-in, reconciling invoices, marking, sensitizing, and passing it on to cataloging. Many of these become problematic with objects that are not in hand. At what point do you accept that you do “have” the object? When do you pay the invoice? Is the invoice received electronically, for that matter? We’ve been ordering e-books title-by-title recently. I thought to mainstream the process as much as possible. Make it like ordering print books. Turns out it was just very different. We had to work out some different routines to make it all work.

I think the solution is that book acquisitions learn about electronic acquisitions and licensing from our electronic resources personnel. The important processes are licensing and assuring that access is available. We give up a lot of things that deal with physical objects. No boxes to open. No sensitizing strips to insert. It can become tricky. Might be easy to miss something. Pay an invoice, but never get access to everything on the invoice. It begins to look a lot more like the way we handle electronic journal subscriptions. Do we need a new kind of ERM that handles books too? I hope not. I hope our acquisitions modules can do the trick. Please let it be so!

I guess I didn’t do too bad with the phone interview. I got invited to campus!



  1. You are correct. We have some records that are “hung” in that they are electronic items and because they aren’t physcially recieved there’s nothing in the process to complete the process. So, in many cases it looks like we’re still waiting on something, when in fact it’s here.

    Congrats and good luck on the interview!

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