Some may know that our story began in 1986 as Retro Link Associates (RLA), which soon became a division of Dynix Corp, specializing in retrospective conversion and, later, generalized metadata services. With the push towards digital ILS and bibliographic records, libraries needed a quick and reliable solution for uploading their card catalog. A very effective cataloging utility developed at Retro Link known as MarcTwain – clever, right? – allowed catalogers to see an image of the card on their screen beside the bibliographic record being created, and the two files were linked for later quality assurance.
In 1998 Retro Link became MARC Link when its manager, John Merrill, purchased the division from Dynix. Since then, what started as one service has grown into six distinct branches. How did one recon department change names and grow to become the Backstage Library Works we know today?
Authority Control & Time to Edit MARC Link’s Heading
MARC Link continued to grow and assist libraries with their metadata needs. It eventually was renamed as Backstage Library Works, and in 2004, Backstage was able to purchase OCLC’s authority control service: MARS processing, which stands for MARC Record Service and is so named even to this day. It’s been reengineered and has evolved over the last 18 years to provide quality enrichment for bibliographic records and the updating of access point headings using a variety of controlled vocabularies. The two departments – metadata and authority control – continue to be complementary with projects occasionally benefiting from initial automation and subsequent manual processing from our metadata team.
On-Site Makes An Entrance To Our Building – And Yours
In 2005, Backstage began the process of creating its own solution to digitization services. Meanwhile, our company was approached to try something new: 2006 saw the start of a multi-year reclassification project and before very long, the newly named On-Site services was responsible for not only reclass, but also consultation, RFID tagging, and inventory maintenance, meeting the needs of libraries on location to assist with large and small projects alike. Some projects have sent our team around the world, one recent example being a half-year reclassification project in Greece. Today, it’s no exaggeration to say that we’ve worked with thousands of feet of library shelving worldwide, and the number continues to grow.
Preservation & Access Crosses the Country
OCLC’s Preservation Service Center in Bethlehem, PA was acquired by Backstage in July, 2009. The microfilming unit, which boasted highly qualified technicians and one-of-a-kind cameras and workflows, already had some long-standing contracts and the digitization expertise in Bethlehem was such that the PA office became the hub of digitization services. Metadata and Authority Control, the latter of which we typically refer to as Automation Services, remained the cornerstones of the Provo, Utah office while the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania location quickly became the center of all things preservation and digitization.
Both locations grew acquiring more space and adding storage areas, conference rooms, offices for management, and stronger infrastructure for IT and server capacity.
Growing, Growing, Ongoing
With business expanding, Backstage made the decision to add a satellite Metadata unit to the Bethlehem, PA office around 2015. And just this year in 2022, we’ve launched the new Archival Services department. We’ve also been awarded our General Services Administration (GSA) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contract which will provide support for Digitization and On-Site services with the latest news from NARA in mind.
What’s best is that all departments continue to grow, looking both towards the library community and to each other to experiment with new solutions that can supplement the expertise and workflows of library and museum institutions.
Our Continuing Mission…
We value partnership and exchanging ideas with the librarians that know what’s needed in their institutions. Whether it’s being one of the first vendors to learn RDA conversion back in the 2010s, or aligning our digitization department with evolving requirements for high-quality, FADGI compliant digitization, we know that our responsibility is lending a hand to technical services in as organic and informed a way as possible.
We have a passion for libraries and museums and we see the excellent things happening every day in these institutions from stories, correspondence, and our meetings in and out of conferences. We’re honored to be able to lend consultation advice, supplement programs, and continue working together to build a better, accessible, informed future.