Re: Difference between database and electronic serial Patricia Thompson 01 Oct 2008 14:35 UTC

This is a confusing issue and you are not alone. We have two
e-resource budget lines: "Periodicals Online" and "Standing Orders
Online." You can see how this was just adapted from the two same
lines for print. Many of the former "standing orders" were indexes or
reference works, and as those went online and became "databases" it
was easy to move them over to the other budget line.

The way I usually judge is whether the resource is "integrating" or
whether it has distinctly separate issues. Many of the journal
platforms allow searching over multiple issues, or multiple titles,
so technically it's a database. But if you can view distinct issues
as a whole, I think it's still a journal. I have put purchases such
as JSTOR or MUSE into the "periodicals online" line, because they are
essentially groups of journals.

An example of a journal that turned into a database is Contemporary
Psychology, which was a monthly periodical that contained reviews of
psychology books. It became the database PsycCritiques. This
particular title changed its name, and went onto the FirstSearch
platform, so it was fairly obvious. I  know there have been other,
perhaps better examples, but I can't think of any at the moment.

What about the full-text aggregator databases, such as LexisNexis
Academic, or similar products? I know that these are basically groups
of journals also. But the difference to me is that titles come and
go, years of coverage of a specific title changes frequently,
sometimes only selected articles from a journal are included, etc. So
I count these as "databases" (or "online standing orders" in our
budget terminology) instead of periodicals.

I think it makes sense to group databases with serials because
anything with an annual subscription fee and an ongoing commitment is
basically a serial, as opposed to a monograph, which is paid for one
time. As to how you divide up beyond that, it's arbitrary.

This is the sort of thing that makes it difficult to compare data
across libraries, in such things as the ACRL Library Survey or the
Oberlin Group statistics. Everyone is calling things by a different
name and putting them into different categories.

  Pat Thompson

At 08:50 AM 10/1/2008, you wrote:
>Hello Serials people!!!
>I have a question!
>We all know that eventually most of our print collection will convert into
>electronic format.
>Here at our library we have a budget line for "database" and another for
>"serials" (any format, including electronic).
>Due to budget constraints, some of my colleagues have decided to "pay" for
>some of their databases from the serials budget. I am a bit confused by all
>of this and I would like to know if anyone out there knows the difference
>between a database and electronic journal???
>Sorry if I sound confusing
>Angelica Freitas
>Serials Administrator
>Sarah Lawrence College Library
>One Meadway
>Bronxville, NY
>TEL: 914-395-2477
>FAX: 914-395-2473

Patricia R. Thompson
Assistant University Librarian for Resource Management Services
Jessie Ball duPont Library
The University of the South
Sewanee, TN 37383
Phone: 931-598-1657