ASSOCIATES (vol. 4, no. 3, March 1998) -

Table of Contents




Gina Hsiung
Cataloging Manager
University Library 
California State University,

[The following paper was prepared for participation in a Panel 
Discussion as part of the California Library Association's 26th 
Annual Conference held in November 1997 in Pasadena, California. The
panel consisted of three teams made up of two individuals, one 
librarian and one paraprofessional.  Two of these teams focused on 
Public Services, while the author's partner, Serials Librarian, Jina
Wakimoto, and the author focused on Technical Services.]


	I'm Gina Hsiung and I have been employed at California State 
University, Northridge, University Library for 14 years.  I am a 
Supervising Library Assistant III in the Catalog Unit where I manage
both the Copy Cataloging and Adaptive Cataloging sections with a 
total of six paraprofessionals under my supervision, (three Library 
Assistant Is and  three Library Assistant IIs). I have also taken on 
the recent duties of "Web Mistress" for the Technical Services 
Department webpages. 

Tradition in Transition: Blurring the Boundaries between 
			Professional and Paraprofessional Positions

	Over the last ten years, as budget constraints became tighter 
at California State University, Northridge, the Library's Technical 
Services Department lost a total of 5.5 FTE paraprofessional 
positions.  As staff retired, or shifted to other sections of the 
library, open positions were not refilled.  The majority of these 
lost positions were from the Acquisitions and Serials Units.  Only 
two Library Assistant II positions were lost from the Catalog Unit.
Today, the Catalog Unit is made up of two sections, Cataloging and 
Database Maintenance, with the following paraprofessional totals: two 
Supervising LAIIIs, six LAIIs and three LAIs. 

	The loss of funds to purchase new materials was a huge blow to 
the entire Library, but the positive side to this was that the 
paraprofessionals could actually keep up with incoming materials.  
No more daunting backlog waiting to be cataloged; instead materials 
are cataloged, processed, and out to the public areas in a timely 
manner.  Additional time can now be spent on completing special 
projects and learning new procedures that deal with our changing 

	The January 1994 Northridge Earthquake pushed us into a higher 
level of technology sooner than we ever anticipated.  Before the 
quake, we were the "have nots".  We shared a group of dedicated OCLC 
terminals, edited printouts, and relied on students to input for us.  
We even had to share a PC for word-processing.  After the quake, 
when the Technical Services Department was set up in a temporary 
building, we became the "lucky ones".  We each received our own PC, 
and several additional stations for student assistants.  The PCs 
were loaded with software necessary to do our jobs, and even 
connected to the outside world as well.  

	We were without our student assistants for several months 
after becoming a functioning department again, so we were forced to 
learn how to finish processing the cataloged materials to get them 
out to the library stacks. This change moved the T.S. Department 
from the previous work philosophy of  "only know what you have to 
know to get the job done" to our current belief:  "needing a broader
picture of the entire library operation" to complete a task.  

	The paraprofessionals are becoming more responsible for 
problem-solving and making cataloging judgments as the librarians' 
time diminishes in the T.S. Department.  The librarians have 
increased their time spent on other duties such as reference work, 
and instruction, leaving them less time for cataloging.  Our 
cataloging librarians have conducted several workshops on using the 
Library of Congress Classification schedules and the Subject 
Headings manuals, thereby giving the paraprofessionals the ability 
to work at a higher level.  The LAIIs now do the majority of the 
Co-op cataloging.  Only the records with no 050/090 call numbers, 
or needing subjects, are given to the librarians, and several of the
LAIIs do some original cataloging with revision by the librarians.  
Our accuracy of cataloging has greatly improved with less handling 
of materials between the professionals and paraprofessionals. 
	The largest hurdle to overcome with our shift in technology was 
the need to quickly orientate all the T.S. staff on how to work in a 
Windows environment.  Training was needed before using Word and 
Excel,along with how to access OCLC and our local system, GEAC. In 
addition, they needed to know how to use the campus email software 
and World Wide Web browsers.  A Technical Services Technology 
Committee was formed from knowledgeable and willing paraprofessionals 
to help facilitate this transition in technology. 

	Communication and disseminating information to the entire T.S. 
Department has greatly improved with the use of email.  Most of the
paraprofessionals' work is now done at the workstation, with several
applications running simultaneously: OCLC, GEAC Advance, and even 
Cataloger's Desktop.  Gone are the paper OCLC record printouts - all
editing is done on-line.  Spine labels are generated by all the 
professionals and paraprofessionals on OCLC as the records are 
updated and exported to GEAC. 

	In the last six months, we have started to revise our outdated
Cataloging Procedure manual, and as pages are completed, I have 
begun to put them on the Catalog Unit's webpage so that they are 
accessible on-line as well.   We now have all the necessary tools 
right at our fingertips!