Policy impact

A line graph demonstrating marked rise in the number of edited authority records via NACO program after September 2012.

Annual report time looms. A couple of weeks ago, I did some statistical prep work (hello, spreadsheets!) to help get things rolling. One particular statistical trend stood out.

The chart below (click to enlarge) represents the percentage of new authority records I created versus existing authority records I edited in the second half of 2011 and in the years 2012 and 2013. Quite a turn around, eh?

Three pie charts depicting the following: 97% of NACO work being devoted to creating new authority records and 3% of NACO work being devoted to editing existing name authority records from July-December 2011; 68% of NACO work being devoted to creating new authority records and 32% of NACO work being devoted to editing existing name authority records in 2012; and 33% of NACO work being devoted to creating new authority records and 67% of NACO work being devoted to editing existing name authority records in 2013.

At the end of September 2012, I trained in RDA cataloging for print books. At that time, the Cataloging Division adopted a new policy for authority work performed by original catalogers: ALL authorized access points appearing in bibliographic records coded RDA must have accompanying name authority files coded RDA.

The number of new NACO records I created didn’t go down (that number actually increased); the number of NACO edits to existing authority records skyrocketed. After enacting the new authority work policy, my average monthly NACO contributions increased by 310%.

The line graph shows how the number of created records and edited records fluctuated over time. A general fall in NACO statistics in August-September and in November reflects my transition into a new job and preparations relating to our section head’s retirement, respectively.

A line graph demonstrating marked rise in the number of edited authority records via NACO program after September 2012.

Hashing out the pros/cons of this particular policy change is beyond the scope of this post. The immediate takeaway for me: policy changes can have big consequences, the kind that inspire fist pumps or headdesks. Having a way to measure the impact of a change on timeliness and productivity–before the change is made–is fairly critical. Judging the impact of a policy or procedural change on the overall value of service seems significantly harder.