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Classifying Serials Birdie MacLennan 23 Sep 1992 03:00 UTC

3 messages, 109 lines:

Date:         Tue, 22 Sep 1992 17:40:47 -0500
From:         Rolfe Gjellstad <>
Subject:      classifying serials

Our library decided not to classify periodicals about 60 years ago.  Since I
have only been here about 17 years, I'm not sure why, but I suspect that
the decision was based on 2 assumptions: 1. Not all materials deserve
classification, especially low-use non-scholarly popular or primary source
periodicals.  2. Many library users find it easier to retrieve periodicals
directly by title rather than indirectly by first looking up a classification
number.  Unless you have some very strong reasons for classifying all your
periodicals, I suggest that you would find it a lot less work to relabel the
volumes that were bound under superseded titles.  Large labels & clear label
protectors should make rebinding unnecessary.  Classification, on the other
hand, would require a considerable amount of subject analysis and call number
assignment, plus the labeling of every single volume.

Date:         Tue, 22 Sep 1992 17:47:06 -0400
Subject:      Re: clarification on serials question

  <ed. note:  cf. Mitch Turitz's 22 Sept. 1992 message to
   AUTOCAT, "classifying serials" for additional info. -bml>

Mitch Turitz' reply to the original message reminded me of some points
that I had not mentioned in my previous response.  Our public services
staff also objected to interfiling the classified periodicals with the
combined classified monographs/serials collection, for many of the
reasons that Mitch gave.   We therefore continue to shelve our periodicals
in a separate shelving sequence, only now arranged by call number rather
than by title/main entry.  To facilitate reshelving in the correct sections
of the libraries we precede the call numbers on the spines of the periodicals
with the letters PER to distinguish them from the volumes to be shelved in
the main stack sequences in our various libraries.

Judith Hopkins                            VOICE: (716) 645-2796
Technical Services Research and Analysis Officer
Central Technical Services                FAX:   (716) 645-5955
Lockwood Library Building
State University of New York at Buffalo   BITNET: ulcjh@ubvm (OR, ubvms)
Buffalo, NY  14260-2200              INTERNET:


Date:         Tue 22, Sept 1992 20:46:06
From:         Birdie MacLennan <BMACLENN@UVMVM>
Subject:      classifying serials

I seem to recall a NASIG workshop a couple of years back (Brock, 1990)
that dealt with "Improving Physical Access to Periodicals Collections:
Cataloging and Management Considerations."  If I recall correctly,
the workshop leaders polled the participants in regard to shelving
arrangements for periodicals in their libraries and the results were
evenly mixed between those who favored arrangement by class no. vs.
arrangement by title or main entry ... a case could be made for either
(cf. Proceedings for NASIG's 5th Annual Conference, pp. 199-201 for
the workshop summary (Serials Librarian 19, nos.3/4).

The workshop stands out because during the summer of 1990, a decision
was made at the University of Vermont to classify the library's *current
periodicals* only (bound vols. were left alone in their arrangement
by main entry).  Serials Cataloging classed approx. 3700 current
titles over the course of the summer -- using numbers that
already existed in the 050/090 fields of the MARC records (when
available) or creating our own numbers as needed.  We resurrected
and re-vamped the paper shelflist (unused for a number of years
since the 1987 conversion to automated shelflisting on NOTIS)
to keep tabs on call number arrangements and a few local decisions
during the process of shelf reassignments.  Re-labelling all the
current issues was no small task!  Circulation crew was brought
in for the actual physical part of reshelving (additional shelving
was needed to allow room for the shifting).

The long and short of it is that we now have two different arrangements
for periodicals (other serials with annual or less frequencies are
classed with monographs in the main stacks or in the reference col-
lection): One for bound periodicals and one for current issues.  This
has caused some major concerns with display of holdings information
in the current version of NOTIS in that it is difficult to display
both locations in one copy holdings statement in a manner that
is easily comprehensible to the public.

Reactions to the shift were mixed -- the biggest complaint about
the classed arrangement being that, now, patrons have to look in
the OPAC to find the location, whereas before, they could just
go to the shelves with their title -- also a consideration in
citations to journal literature, which do NOT cite class numbers.

We still scratch our heads over the benefits and drawbacks of
our rather unique arrangement -- particularly since, some years
back (before the classification project), the public's response
to a local survey re. the benefits and drawbacks of arrangement by
classification vs. title was pretty evenly split, 50-50, down the middle.

My advice as a serials cataloger, however, is use ONE arrangement
for your periodicals, if you can, and stick to it.  It will spare
your public services staff a few headaches!

Birdie MacLennan
Serials Cataloger
University of Vermont