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September 06, 2007

Oh, the excitement

I read this post at the Academic Librarian today and couldn't help but giggle a little - he's excited about getting trained to start using WorldCat Selection. I'm excited because I'm helping to implement it!

The ordering process at our library has been cumbersome for everyone involved - selectors, acquisitions staff, everyone. One of my ongoing projects that has followed me from one librarian position to another at ASU has been to work on streamlining our ordering process. I worked behind the scenes with Acquisitions to make their workflow more efficient (my old ILL cronies will tell you that Efficiency is my middle name - along with Danger), as well as get the FTP process up and running. Then I helped create an online order form for selectors to submit orders, instead of sending paper slips. Since we switched our main approval vendors, I've also been actively encouraging and training selectors to use the vendor's online interface to submit orders. The result is that for the last year or so, the ordering process has gotten a lot better - selectors can send orders from home or work and don't have to sort through piles and piles of paper slips, acquisitions doesn't have to manually enter each and every order, there's no back log of orders, and it's all getting done pretty quickly.

There's a lot of room for improvement though. Selectors still have to go to several different places to submit an order - either the online form or the vendor's system - not including those selectors who collect in media or non-English language materials. Acquisitions still has to have multiple workflows. There isn't one standardized system, and there needs to be.

I had hopes that WorldCat Selection would fill this need. And it does have that potential. But since it's still in the early stage, it doesn't work that way yet. It only works with certain vendors (and our main approval vendor is not one of them, alas - I've mentioned it to them repeatedly), it only shows slips, and there currently isn't a way to really utilize the power of WorldCat to place orders for items that aren't available from the vendor-partners. I've mentioned all this to WorldCat as we've been setting up our trial, and they're really interested in these suggestions, so I do believe it's a step in the right direction.

I am still a little baffled why it's taken THIS LONG for a vendor to supply this kind of functionality. When it comes down to it, the selectors want to be able to shop online like they do at Amazon, have a 1-click way to order a book (that is not tied to vendor, material type, or language), and then have back-end functionality for acquisitions to import records into the ILS and FTP it off to vendors.

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