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Re: alternatives to binding Mark L. Ferguson 14 Dec 2009 17:51 UTC


I am the periodicals librarian at the College of Saint Elizabeth, a
small Catholic college and we have combined binding, boxes, microforms
and electronic holdings for our archival storage, depending on the
journal. In addition to financial restraint we also are restrained by
shelf space since there is no storage for extensive collections of back
issues.  For this reason I have used a variety of strategies for
different titles depending on how the title is used and what formats are

Electronic holdings for back issues is my preference, since they are the
most accessible to students, and take up the least space with no concern
about deteriorating holdings, but I want to know I have ownership rights
over these titles (such as offered by ECO) so that I don't have to worry
about key titles disappearing from subscribed-to databases (which
happened a couple of years ago with Sage publications). We subscribe to
about half of our journals this way, but there are a number of important
titles that do not provide this option.

We still bind some selected titles, mostly key titles in the humanities
that we want to keep for a long time, but this takes up valuable space
and is probably the most expensive alternative.

Boxing journals costs about a fifth of the costs of binding. The major
drawback for me being the high acidic makeup of the boxes which in time
will probably lead to brittle journals.  You could of course use
archival boxes, but with the added expense you might as well just do
What we have done is put in place a 25 year retention period on most of
our science and social science journals (after getting the approval of
the academic departments), since professors usually require students in
the sciences to only use journals that have been published in the last
5-10 years.  Since I am now only holding on to these titles for 25
years, I am no longer as concerned with the high acid contents of the
boxes because the journals will not be in them long enough to have a
perceivable effect.  It also allows me to recycle boxes, providing
additional savings (I have not needed to purchase any new boxes for
quite a while.)

Finally, I still think there is a roll for microforms to play in the
storage of back issues of journals whose historic content may still be
of value to student research (mostly in the humanities).  While we no
longer subscribe to any journals in microform, I still hold onto all the
microform holdings in the humanities I inherited and have actually taken
in some additional reels of microfilm offered to me from other
libraries.  Microfilm is easier to store and doesn't deteriorate.  While
its use is admittedly rare, those few researchers serious enough to hunt
down the back issues of journals are usually willing to put up with the
challenges offered by a microfilm reader.

This has been the strategy that has developed in our periodicals
department over the years and it seems to be cost effective while
preserving those titles needed for undergraduate and graduate study.
However, we are not a serious research library and what we are doing
here may not be appropriate for larger institutions.


-----Original Message-----
From: SERIALST: Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum
[] On Behalf Of Scott Carlisle
Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 11:43 AM
Subject: [SERIALST] alternatives to binding

At Boston College Libraries we are reassessing our practices for binding

periodicals. Like many libraries we are working toward migrating our
journal collections to electronic format, and we are spending more on
electronic preservation. In a recent project we experimented with
shelving certain titles without binding, and found that while cost
savings resulted, there was no labor saved due to the work required in
our ILS for location changes.

We'd love to hear what other institutions are doing:

1) Have your binding practices been affected by these issues or others,
and if so, what changes have you made?

2) Have you tried any alternatives to binding, such as boxes, and has
that been satisfactory?


Scott Carlisle
E-Resources & Technical Services Librarian
O'Neill Library
Boston College