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Re: dropping serial check-in? Max Shenk 10 Aug 2004 18:39 UTC

I think what amazes me, Rick, is that this hasn't risen up and bitten
you hard once or more. It often seems like the issue of a journal that a
student wants most NOW is the one that is somehow missing and has fallen
through all the cracks. I think what you're hearing from a lot of people
on the list is that they would feel uncomfortable working without the
safety net of check-in, claims, etc.

I just keep coming back to the same thing: how do students-faculty-etc
react when they need an item IMMEDIATELY and you tell them you not only
have no way of knowing if it's being used or was stolen (par for the
course in serials) but in fact have no way of knowing if you ever even
received it?

To me, part of the check-in process is about the CYA factor. As
overstated, just because an issue has been checked in, that doesn't mean
it's available. Even bound volumes suffer from the occasional ignorant
patron who has to surgically remove the article they want instead of
just sticking a few dimes in the copier. Check in is no indicator of
availability... still, I feel that there IS a certain comfort level in
being able to say "Well, we own it; I checked it in" or "It was
received; here's proof." At least then the student gets a more concrete
answer than "I don't know, and that's just the way it is."


Max Shenk
Periodicals Assistant
Montgomery County Community College Library
Blue Bell, PA
>>> rickand@UNR.EDU 08/10/04 10:48 AM >>>
Susan poses perfectly some reasonable questions here:

>(i.e. you are apparently
> not concerned
> about archiving your print subscriptions).

Actually, that's not exactly true.  We do care about about keeping
(which I assume is what you mean by "archiving") our print
subscriptions.  But we also care about maintaining our online content,
which is much more expensive and far more heavily used by our patrons.
We can't do both equally well, so we're trying to focus our efforts
where they'll do the most good.

> 1.  What do your auditors think about this?

Maybe a better question would be, what would auditors think to see my
staff spending hours tracking down changes in publication patterns or
generating third claims while online access goes unregistered and online
access problems unresolved?  Scary as they may be, auditors are not God,
and cannot produce blood from a stone.  I have 2.5 people managing the
purchases from a $1.8 million serials budget.  If they want the Serials
Department to closely manage every item it purchases, they'll have to
dramatically increase my staffing levels.  If they don't want to do
that, then the most responsible thing I can do is have my existing staff
focus their efforts where they'll do our patrons the most good: on the
most high-use and expensive materials, most of which are online.
Frankly, I can't imagine an auditor wanting me to do things any other

> 2.  If the print titles that you are buying are not worth
> archiving, why
> are you bothering to buy them?

Good question.  In most cases, we're buying them because it's worth the
money to have them in the collection, even if it isn't worth the money
to manage them carefully.  (In some cases we're buying them because
campus politics requires it.)  Remember that most journal issues arrive
on time and without problems; abandoning check-in doesn't lead to a
cessation in receipts.  There's also a very basic management principle
at work here: not everything worth doing is worth doing well.  Some
things need to be done, but should be done in a quick-and-dirty way so
as to free up one's time for more important and consequential tasks.
Management of most of our print titles falls under that category.

Rick Anderson
Dir. of Resource Acquisition
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
(775) 784-6500 x273