This is the time of year when we think thoughts of spring, opening the windows in our homes to let in fresh, clean air and removing the cobwebs that have collected over the winter. Just like our homes, a little TLC on your data can enhance your investment in technology, and reinvigorate your patrons and staff by ensuring successful searches.
In the March 2005 issue of American Libraries, Jeffrey Beall, catalog librarian at the University of Colorado Auraria Library gives us “10 Ways to Improve Data Quality.” At first glance, his common-sense suggestions sound labor intensive and admittedly boring, but implementing sound data management practices does not have to be so, as long as you take advantage of tools and services available to manage these tasks.
If you do not already, subscribe to an authority control service such as Sirsi SmartSource™ to maintain current, controlled authority headings and cataloging standards for bibliographic records.
Buff up those Unicorn API Workshop skills in your data cleanup efforts. Use batch search and edit capabilities to find and fix errors that have crept into the catalog, globally edit locations to match changes in the physical location of materials, and unearth and enhance those records missing subject headings. For libraries without Unicorn API certified staff, consider Sirsi Consulting Services for assistance.
Look into new products such as Sirsi PocketCirc™ and our partner products such as the 3M Digital Library Assistant™ to ease the staff burden on shelf reading, organization, and inventory duties.
Enlist not only library staff, but patrons in database maintenance. Encourage their assistance by posting a reporting form using the Sirsi Request Module or link to a web form. Most public libraries have a few patrons that enjoy finding and reporting errors. Why not encourage their assistance with a small token of appreciation from the library?
As Beall states, “Bad and poorly maintained data in library catalogs causes lost time, money, and information.” Now, before the busy summer vacation season begins, is the perfect time to tackle this clean-up effort and put a plan in place to maintain quality data.
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