Library Projects You Can Plan from Home

As we all adjust to a new normal, it is time for librarians to think outside the box about the electronic and physical access to materials that patrons need. Although it feels that life is on hold right now, special improvement or development projects at your library don’t need to stop for COVID-19. We’ve put together a list of ideas for small and large projects that you can plan (or even start!) remotely.

Catalog Upgrades

The condition of your MARC records is more important than ever. Increased remote catalog searches and virtual reference inquiries means that any problems in the catalog are going to be much more noticeable. These issues can include duplicate records, items coded as the wrong format, outdated subject headings, and unauthorized author names. This is an excellent opportunity to start cleaning up that bad data!

Backstage can work with your metadata remotely and deliver upgrades automatically. We need very limited information to put together your quote, usually just the number of bibliographic records and the types of issues you would like to address. We’ll use your sample records to come up with a project plan and timeline to accelerate clean-up. If you can’t get started on a large-scale automation project right away, we have handy planning guides, an online wiki, and detailed profiles to use for planning purposes.

Data Conversion

What pesky old file formats do you have? Were your finding aids printed on a typewriter or put into a spreadsheet? Are the handwritten letters in your digital collection unable to be keyword searched? Now is the best time to improve the discoverability of your digital and archival collections by upgrading your files to Dublin Core XML or Encoded Archival Description (EAD) XML, or by transcribing some of your key documents. Backstage can assist with all of these projects. We have programmers and catalogers familiar with all major schemas and file formats.

Grant-funded Digitization Projects

Librarians are known for having to do more with less, but grants can help immensely with increasing access to unique collections. There are different types of grants to choose from on national (CLIR, NEH, and IMLS), state, and private levels. To get started, check-out this related blog post about grant resources.

Once you have identified your target collection for digitization, we can help with planning and gathering information for your grant application. This includes estimating costs, creating a timeline, and offering workflows for your narrative. Our digital solution saves you time that would be otherwise spent on sourcing equipment or training staff. We can expedite getting your collection online!

Large-scale Improvements

When libraries begin to reopen and welcome patrons back into the building, Circulation will be inundated with returns, and Technical Services will likely encounter a backlog of acquisitions. We hate to think about this, but there may even be a lot of dust when libraries turn on the lights! As we adjust to new physical workflows, this is also a great time to be thinking about large-scale improvements such as:

  • RFID implementation for better inventories and contactless check-out
  • Cleaning and weeding collections to make room for new materials
  • Space improvements to facilitate social distancing that may require moving collections and purchasing new furniture or equipment

For all on-site services, Backstage offers a range of support options. From project consultations to having a Backstage project manager come on-site with a team of technicians to help execute the entire project workflow. Together we can identify a solution to fit your range of needs.

FY21 or FY22 Projects

It is time to be thinking about the future and how libraries can adapt for changing access. Distance learning, eBook borrowing, and virtual research will be increasingly important as we move forward. How can you future-proof your collections in 2021 and 2022? By planning projects now and securing funding, even if you have to finish the work at a later date.

Backstage can help with budget planning, including accounting for cost-of-living and inflation increases in our quotes. We can also issue pro forma invoices for libraries that have a “use it or lose it” budget. Let us help you be creative in your future project planning!

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