Friday, June 17, 2011

ALCTS e-forum: Serials, Staffing, and Workflow Day 1 Summary

ALCTS is hosting a free e-forum discussion on serials staffing and workflow. Here is the description:

While working with serials has always required a tolerance for change and ambiguity, the transition from print to electronic subscriptions has introduced workflow and staffing issues that demand flexibility. In this e-forum, we will explore how libraries of different sizes and varying Technical Services configurations have adapted their workflows and staffing in response to format changes, budget cuts and other pressures affecting the serials life cycle.

Below is a summary of discussions occured on June 15, compiled by Jennifer Sippel at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College:

"Here's a quick re-cap of Day 1:

Staffing: Training & Hiring
• Libraries are reorganizing staffing to accommodate demands of acquiring, processing and maintaining access to electronic resources. They do this in a variety of ways, including: re-training existing staff, using retirements as opportunities to write new job descriptions or create new positions, re-organizing departments, or a combination of all.
• There is still some confusion around who is doing what, and the silos are, for the most part, coming down with respect to managing serials in a mostly electronic frontier.
• Tina Kussey mentioned her e-resources team is responsible for communicating with each other via an internal listserv and collectively problem solving access issues together.
• I think Lori Snyder summed it up quite well when she said, “E-Resource management is definitely a web between several departments and we have found it difficult to draw clear cut lines about who should do which activity.”

Format: electronic vs. print
• Some libraries have created "electronic format preferred" policies; others are selecting electronic over print but have no formal policy; the main exception to this preference is popular reading magazines and/or periodicals with heavy graphics/images that do not translate well (or at all) online.
• While libraries may be purchasing more electronic resources, some are still devoting more staff time to print resources. But that is changing. Buddy Pennington notes, "we have far more staff devoted to print subscriptions than electronic. But that is changing even as I email this. This very morning, two staff persons in Technical Services were being trained on electronic resources support.”
• Jason C. Simon mentioned that weeding print is the current trend when access is available electronically, but there are issues with doing so associated with access vs. ownership (publishers changing access policies, pulling content from aggregated databases, perpetual access as afforded by license agreements, etc.) and suggested supporting Open Access initiatives.

Checking in & claiming (print & electronic)
• Many mentioned they are still checking in print; a few are not; and some are checking in selected print but not all, or are checking in on a limited basis.
• Many mentions of systematically claiming print, but on a more selective basis than in the past.
• With the exception of 1 or 2, most mentioned they are still trying to figure out how to claim e-journals.
• Okay, I’m not even sure how to summarize Mark Hemhauser’s response to this topic, so here is the full-text version of how he is claiming e-journals: “We get a report of all of our subscriptions that include an electronic component from our ILS (Aleph, yuck!), then look them up in SFX, compare what our SFX local threshold says to what is actually available. We are looking to see if the title has been cut off, and to resolve discrepancies between what we thought we had and what we are currently getting access to. Sometimes we also compare our orders to what Ebsco has for us and what they say is available online for us, to what we've got in SFX. Imperfect method but we mash all three datasets together by issn in MS Access and then compare the "holdings" or "thresholds" and the order type--online, print + online. This doesn't work when the issns do not match.” [Mark posted an even more detailed follow-up about how this works in a separate email]

Checking access to E-journals
• Some mention of having individuals systematically checking to determine if access to electronic resources is working.
• I am aware there are products that can be purchased for checking broken links, but that doesn’t actually ensure access to content, so...Unless I missed it, there was no magic solution to this problem mentioned.
ERMs, etc.
• Sounds like some of serials workflow is dependent upon the technologies employed (ILS, Link Resolvers, ERMs, etc.), so there was some brief discussion about who is using what. Some mentions of specific issues related to certain products.
Randomly selected tip of the day
• from Jan Cox: "We have replaced our web page alphabetic journal title list with EBSCO’s A-to-Z product and added the A-to-Z link to our ILS bib record. These actions have minimized/eliminated the need to update URL information when there is a platform change, etc. (time saver)"

If you are interested in signing up for the ALCTS e-forum, here is information on ALA's webpage:

An ALCTS e-forum provides an opportunity for librarians to discuss matters of interest, led by a moderator, through the e-forum discussion list. The e-forum discussion list works like an email listserv: register your email address with the list, and then you will receive messages and communicate with other participants through an email discussion. Most e-forums last two days. Registration is necessary to participate, but it's free. See a list of upcoming e-forums at:

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