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Discussion on union listing and electronic resources (Myrtle Myers) Marcia Tuttle 05 May 1999 18:17 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 11:02:44 -0400
From: "Myers,Myrtle" <myersm@OCLC.ORG>
Subject: Discussion on union listing and electronic resources

For the past several years the question has arisen about whether or not
electronic resources should be included in union lists. To help libraries
address this issue OCLC, with the help of the Network offices, organized an
informal discussion group to identify and discuss the issues that need to be
considered. The discussion group consists of union list, serials, technical
services, and interlibrary loan librarians from around the country. The
discussions have been taking place on a private listserv hosted by OCLC and
we are hoping to produce a guidelines document that will help libraries and
groups as they make their individual decisions. The discussions have
progressed to the point where we would like to get the opinions of other
libraries. Following is the list of questions that we identified for the
discussion and the summary of our answers. We would like to have comments on
whether we are addressing all of the issues? Do you agree with our answers?
Any comments would be appreciated.

Please send any comments or thoughts directly to me (, not
to the list. I would like to have all comments by Wednesday, May 12.

For a list of the discussion group participants please see the end of this

General Union List Questions
Question 1: What roles do union lists fulfill today?

Answer: The main role of the union list is to act as a finding tool
for interlibrary lending. However, it is also valuable in collection
assessment/development and as a reference tool for patrons who want to
determine local holdings or are willing to travel short distances to locate
an item. While union lists fulfill other roles in libraries these are the
top three uses.

Question 2: What roles do you see union lists fulfilling tomorrow?

Answer: The role of union lists will remain basically the same,
however; the way end-users and library staffs access the information will
change. For example more and more union lists will become accessible through
web accessible OPACs, and will be used for holdings information by new
automated ILL routing systems ( like OCLC's Direct request and Full Text

Question 3: What criteria should be used to determine whether an item should
included in the union list?

Answer: The main criteria that should be used in determining whether a title
is included in the union list is the use of the union list. If the union
list is exclusively for interlibrary lending then only those titles
available for interlibrary loan should be included. However; if it is also
used as a collection development tool and/or as a local finding aid then all
titles should be included. The other criteria that should be used is whether
the title is a serial.  In a perfect world all multi-part items should be
considered for inclusion in the union list, but realistically serials will
be the main items included. The physical format of the item (whether it is
microfilm, or electronic) is not a determining factor unless licensing
agreements prohibit its inclusion.

Specific Questions on Electronic resources:
Question 1: Do licensing terms determine whether an electronic resource
should be included? Does the fact that some electronic publishers are
allowing limited ILL change that?

Answer: The answer to this question is determined by the use of your union

Question 2: Does the distribution method for the electronic resource
determine whether it is included? For example is it a single subscription
purchased directly by the library, does access come free with your print
subscription, does it come as part of a package deal?

Answer: Access and distribution methods are not a determining factors for
including titles in a union list.

Question 3: Is the electronic version an exact copy of the print? Does this
impact whether or not it is included? (I'd like to focus here on whether you
include the title, not on which bibliographic record you would choose).

Answer: Whether or not a title is an exact version of the print copy is not
a determining factor for whether it should be included in the union list. It
is a question that needs to be considered when determining what
bibliographic record to use when union listing, not when deciding whether to
include the title.

Question 4: Is the definition of a library collection changing from what you
own, to what you can access? Does this impact whether you include an item?

Answer: Still under discussion.

Question 5: What if the coverage is constantly changing? For example: The
publisher is continuing to add backfiles, or the title is part of a package
and you have no control over what is contained in the package.

Answer: Still under discussion

NOTE: The question of whether a library has the staff available to keep the
holdings up-to-date was not considered, since this an issue for union
listing of all formats not just the electronic. Each library must make this
decision based on their own staff and on their consortial obligations.

Myrtle Myers
Senior Product Support Specialist

Discussion Group Participants:

Robert Avant
Alabama Public Library Service

Richard Baumgarten
Johnson County Public Library

Cecelia Boone
MULS Union List of Serials

Kathleen DeForest
Lansing Community College

Lynn Eaton
Springfield Technical Community College

Joanne Ellis
SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

Shelby E. Harken
University of North Dakota

Martha Hruska
University of Florida

Deanna Iltis
Oregon State Library

Laura Kessler
Alliance Library System

Kathleen Meneely
Cleveland Health Science Library

Vianne Sha
University of Missouri-Columbia

Carolyn Shaffer
Johnson County Public Library

Kathleen Smalldon
Northern Arizona University

Brad Ward
Northeast Florida Library Information Network