Email list hosting service & mailing list manager

Re-thinking Serials Librarianship Birdie MacLennan 08 Mar 1993 03:00 UTC

It's six weeks after mid-winter and I am still trying to gather
some coherent thoughts around what is partly a philosophical
issue; partly a workflow question ...

Since I'm not sure my thoughts are anymore coherent, 6 weeks
later, I'll risk putting forth my incoherencies and try to find
out if anyone else has been similarly affected:  Has anyone
started documenting the effects that serials cancellations are
having on our roles as serial librarians ... or people who
specialize in serials work in libraries?

There has been lots of talk in the literature and on lists about
"downsizing."  There was in interesting dialogue on ACQNET last
month about merging acquisitions and cataloging and thereby stream-
lining tech services functions.  A few folks have broached the topic
on SERIALST of merging various tech services/serials functions
with document delivery and ILL.  Yet, I haven't seen much about
the effects of "downsizing" on our immediate roles as folks whose
particular area of expertise has been the processing and handling
of traditional printed serials/journals/periodicals in libraries.

Anyone care to offer some thoughts?   In various informal
discussions I had at midwinter (I didn't attend any forums that
dealt with this issue head-on -- were there any??) folks were
talking about reduced workflows for printed journals, as emphasis
shifted more toward products and technologies (various CD and
online services) that provide indexes to journal literature, full
text services (such as Lexis/Nexis or CARL's UnCover), or other
direct document delivery systems (i.e., emphasis on access, as
opposed to ownership).

Are serials managers becoming more involved in making these kinds
of systems changes decisions and moving staff in the direction of
ILL and/or document delivery?  Or grappling with more
cancellations and shifting serials staff into the general
workflow (along with monographic materials in various formats)?
Are we holding our own?  Or branching off into other areas?

Our library suspended order activities for new journal
subscriptions last year (with a few exceptions for state and
local publications housed in special collections) and is in the
process of completing another round of cancellations.  In terms
of cataloging workflow, this has allowed time to catch up on some
of the serials backlog, keep up (or stay afloat) with title
changes, and tend to other areas, such as re-con and/or database
maintenance questions (in light of a recent gov docs tapeload).
While there is still much activity in the handling and processing
of current serial subscriptions, current reorganizational
strategies have us contemplating the ways in which serials
workflow might be integrated into a more mainstream/generalized,
merged cataloging/acquisitions team-approach ...

All of this has me wondering, in generic terms, about what other
institutions are doing ... and what the future of serials and/or
serials librarians as distinct entities in libraries might be ...
or might evolve into.  Will we become an endangered species?  Are
we already an endangered lot??

Weighty questions, perhaps.  But surely, others out there might
be wondering, too?  Perhaps someone has even written a real
article on this very topic?  Anyone care to offer some thoughts?
Or refer us to the literature???

Thanks, in advance, for any insights.

     Birdie MacLennan
     Serials Cataloger             bmaclenn@uvmvm.bitnet
     University of Vermont

p.s. The views expressed here are mine and do not necessary
     reflect the views of my institution.