Interview with the authors: Kipps and Jones on Collection Management in the Cloud
Kayla Kipps and Allison Jones co-wrote Collection Management in the Cloud, which is available from Rowman & Littlefield. My interview with them is below.
Please introduce yourselves to our readers.
Kayla Kipps, collection development librarian, at the College of Charleston Libraries. I work in the acquisitions of our monograph and media resources, both print and electronic, and the assessment of our collections.
Allison Jones, electronic resources & serials librarian, also at the College of Charleston Libraries. I manage the Libraries’ subscription-based resources including journals in print and electronic formats as well as the Libraries’ database subscriptions and trials.
Briefly summarize Collection Management in the Cloud.
Collection Management in the Cloud is a “how-to” book exploring different cloud-based technologies that work well for managing everyday collection management workflows. The book examines crucial collection management tasks, such as data management, project management, and document creation, and shows how these tasks can be done in the cloud, using technology tools that are often available at little or no cost.
Who will benefit most from reading this book?
We wrote the book with librarians who work in small or specialized libraries in mind, meaning those librarians who do a little bit of everything and may be interested in tips for organizing their work in the cloud for easy access —whether they are physically in their libraries or working remotely. However, we think there is enough great information in the book that almost any librarian would benefit from it and could find ways to utilize these tools in their various workflows as well. We were pleased when Choice Reviews selected it as a Community College recommended book. We also think it could be beneficial to library science students or those who are fresh out of library school just getting started in their careers.
Why did you decide to write this book?
We felt we were doing a really good job of integrating cloud technologies into our workflow, especially after the pandemic forced us to work remotely, but our interests are a little different. Kayla uses Tableau Public for data visualization on a near daily basis, while Allison uses Trello to track renewals and other projects. We noticed that there was not much in the literature focused on the topic exploring how collection management librarians use cloud-computing technologies in their day-to-day workflows. There were a few books aimed toward reference librarians. We literally said to each other, “Let’s write the book!” and we did.
As work has moved to the cloud, what are three big changes to collection management that have occurred?
Firstly, the speed in which information can be shared has grown exponentially, whether this be transferring documents and information among members of a department, a library, or outside of the library with external stakeholders. The mobility of library work has also experienced a big change. Cloud-based tools have given many the ability to work from anywhere, but this is something that has not always been the case in library work. While a lot of library work is still tied to physically working in the building, these cloud-based tools can improve workflows whether librarians are working on different devices on their office computer, on a laptop out in the stacks or at a different branch, or remotely. Finally, collaboration has vastly improved from the shift to using more cloud-based technology tools in collection management. Even the action of moving from paper files to cloud-based documents can improve transparency, innately allow for more input from collaborators, and offers more intuitive searchability therefore making information more readily available electronically.
Has collection management become more collaborative with its move to the cloud? If so, how has that impacted collection management? If not, do you see more collaboration in the future?
During our careers, we have seen changes in the ways collection management librarians are able to communicate with one another and share information. We are both very active in our state-wide consortium, PASCAL (Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries), so we are able to easily meet monthly with other librarians remotely in our field across the state and develop policies and workflows for our shared LSP, Alma. That is pretty amazing. Also, for us, moving to a shared cloud-based LSP has been a significant change, and for the most part, a good one. This LSP is built collaboratively, especially for those libraries working within a shared network. There are challenges, yes, but it has also been very rewarding.
We think the community-driven element of using tools like these in library work is what has offered the space for those who work in libraries to become more collaborative outside of their own libraries. It’s nice to find resources like documentation or case studies from other schools that may be doing something you’d like to do, or that you can reach out to an email list to ask questions of peers across the globe. It’s great to have those options available instead of trying to figure it all out on your own.
What changes do you anticipate in the future?
We know that the tools we selected for the book will likely change in the future, but we purposefully chose ones that we have been using for years with little changes to their basic functionality. These tools have fairly robust features, including their basic or free versions, and we hope that is something that doesn’t change. By embracing these tools, we realize that we are more adaptable to changes in our profession. If we didn’t have access to these tools, for example, working remotely during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic would have been very difficult to do.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
One thing we write in the book is that “as you work with different cloud-based tools, keep in mind that they are meant to help you work smarter, maybe a little faster depending on the task, but you should not feel as though you are managing them, you are burdened by them, or that when using them you are working harder.” We take this advice to heart, and as much as we love these tools, we also realize they can be very invasive and can be a challenge to both learn and implement. It’s good to have balance, especially for librarians who spend so much time researching and problem solving. Sometimes it is good for your mental health just to take a break.
Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent presenter and interviewer on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Her expertise includes information literacy, educational technology, and library and information science education. Please read Lauren’s other posts relevant to special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.
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