Online Serials Management Task Force: Report and Recommendations Submitted to RUL Collection Development Council- June 4, 2004


Analyze issues related to the management of serials with a special emphasis on online serials, including print with online, cataloging issues when there are multiple URLs, fund representation, and evaluation tools.

Make recommendations relating to:


Howard Dess, Julie Kaufman, Elizabeth Leister, Laura Mullen, Jim Nettleman, Cathy Pecoraro, Mary Page, Gracemary Smulewitz

Report and Recommendations:

The task force evaluated current practices for placing and managing print and online subscriptions. The following problems were identified:

To improve all aspects of subscription maintenance, the Task Force recommends that the acquisition and subsequent maintenance of serials in all formats be re-considered as a system-wide process that requires a more holistic approach. To that end the Task Force recommends the following:

Create a Serials Team

The membership will include a core staff from all campuses of RUL who will share knowledge, skills, and responsibilities in the placement of print, print with online, and online-only subscriptions. An important goal will be to develop additional expertise with online serials management throughout RUL, while also providing consistent processing of existing print subscriptions.

The team will work in consultation with appropriate selectors system-wide and will manage all subscriptions in all formats.

For new serials in any format, the Serials Team will consolidate any existing subscriptions and holdings information, place orders from the best source, initiate the cataloging process, and manage all subsequent changes. The team will develop procedures for resolving the many funding questions that arise and work toward consistency in this area.

Selectors will be consulted on all funding and cancellation decisions, and, in fact, many of these actions will have originated with selectors.

Consolidate subscriptions

When there are two or more print subscriptions for the same title, ensure that all of those subscriptions are serviced by the same vendor. Such consolidation will allow for better pricing, service, and subscription maintenance. Also, consolidation of subscriptions will simplify the process if online access is acquired.

The Sirsi serials control system has sophisticated distribution capabilities that will streamline print journal processing and ensure consistent holdings information for all RUL libraries. We will be able to use the distribution feature if we consolidate our subscriptions.

We recommend consolidating all existing duplicate subscriptions that are currently with multiple vendors. We believe this can be accomplished for the FY2005 subscription cycle.

Fund Code Review and Analysis

A thorough review and analysis of the current fund code scheme should begin immediately, with the goal of implementing a new structure for fiscal year 2006. We recommend the creation of a task force to develop a new fund coding scheme that will allow us to track expenditures by discipline and format.

Our current funding mechanisms lack consistency. The primary funds for online resources do not provide any indication of discipline, and for those e-titles that are paid with subject funds, there is no indication of format. We need a new fund coding system that is applied consistently and provides essential management information about expenditures by discipline and format.

Other large research library systems such as the University of Wisconsin have developed sophisticated tools to evaluate journal usage and funding. These tools are used in conjunction with the routine fund information from the ILS system. The task force should look to other institutions of like size and complexity to identify best practices.

Last updated: September 3, 2004
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