Document Type


Publication Date


Conference Name

Different by Design - Georgia Library Association Conference

Conference Place

Columbus, Georgia


Librarianship, Cataloging, Outsourcing, Technical Services


With today’s financial constraints, librarians can never get too far away from the challenge of reorganizing, redesigning or reimagining their workflows, staffing or departments. Does the term outsourcing still scare you? How have libraries adapted to the threat or reality of outsourcing in their organizations? This presentation is a look back at outsourcing from case studies that were published in 1997. While investigating this provocative topic I discovered the book “Outsourcing Library Technical Services Operations: Practices in Academic, Public, and Special Libraries” , edited by Karen Wilson and Mary Lou Colver. This is a book of case studies describing libraries and outsourcing and what was happening in the early to mid 1990’s. I started looking back at the history of outsourcing cataloging operations in libraries from this book and then took a look at what is happening today. In the 20 years since this book’s publication, what are these libraries doing NOW in terms of outsourcing? During my own investigation into this topic, I asked other librarians, "With all of the reorganization going on in libraries, do you even have catalogers on staff?" Furthermore, I asked them to share insights on outsourcing. Combining their responses with insights from professional literature from the 1990s regarding outsourcing, the audience will learn about how libraries coped with and worked with outsourcing from the early 1990’s to how librarians are managing today. As with most difficult and worrisome issues; gaining knowledge about outsourcing makes us less fearful. We no longer need to be nervous when the idea of “outsourcing” is discussed in our libraries. Looking back to 1997 and then taking a look into the future, the audience will come away armed with some ideas on how to manage successful outsourcing projects in their own libraries.