The end of eresourcejournal

At the end of the month, I will begin my new job at Norwich University as their Distance Learning Librarian. I am very excited about this position because I’ve wanted to work with distance learning students since the not-so-long-ago days of my own online graduate program. This is my dream job.

And so, eresourcejournal reaches its end. This blog has been more helpful to me than I expected. The process of writing about things that puzzle and frustrate me has been beneficial. First, it makes me think things through. My brain works faster than my fingers, and as I type my mind wanders to another (more appropriate) idea. Had I not taken the time to write about these topics, I may not have come to those more useful conclusions.

In addition, writing is a great memory tool. Writing online with blog software allowed me to easily retrace my steps and remind myself of past discoveries. In some cases, I was able to solve a new problem by looking back at similar situations.

Lastly, blogging connects: the advantage of writing publicly and online is that other people found me. I am grateful for the comments and emails I’ve received from everyone who visits the site or reads the RSS feed. Librarians have been a source of (wonderful) ideas, commiseration, and camaraderie. EBSCO folks have been very generous with their time, emailing me directly about the concerns and ideas I’ve covered in my posts.

Perhaps others will continue to discover these posts and find them useful. Clearly, they’ll be curious about troubleshooting electronic serials problems, as illustrated in this nifty word cloud of all the text at eresourcejournal (made at Wordle.net). I don’t know yet whether I will blog about my new job. As I re-read that sentence, I realize I likely will. I want to remain connected to my community of colleagues. I have been and will continue to follow blogs related to distance learning and distance learning librarianship. I’m sure I’ll have a few things to talk about, too.

Thank you for your visits and keeping me in your feed readers. Most of all, thank you for your comments.

(P.S. It’s a time of transition: Kelly retired one of her blogs this week. Great minds think alike!)

(P.P.S. It seems like a good idea to close the comments on all my old posts. So I’m gonna. I’ll keep this post open, so feel free to leave a message.)

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Getting to the bottom of it

My colleagues at the medical library graciously offered to help me with this list of 278 MARC records marked for deletion. We went over a few examples, talked out a few problems, and came up with a plan: we’re splitting up the list and going through title-by-title.

It helps that we’re sitting in the same room. We often collaborate over the phone or on Meebo, but it’s helpful to be able to just talk. Together, we figured out a reasonable plan of attack, and we’ve been able to compare findings as we plug through the list.

The majority of the problems are with ScienceDirect links that were removed from EBSCO’s Title Wizard. We still have access to everything at the ScienceDirect site, but there’s no ScienceDirect Freedom Collection link. I called EBSCO this morning and spoke with one of their representatives. I told him I was planning to send a large list of titles that needed plain old Freedom Collection links added to their Title Wizard options, and he thought that was a fine idea.

Still not sure why this is happening, but we noticed that the titles are mostly old: there aren’t current issues. It might be a publication with access from 1996-1999, rather than “to present”. It might be a previous title. Regardless, there should still be a ScienceDirect link for our patrons: in fact, there are several options but the one we need (which is part of our package) is missing.

Posted in EBSCO, MARC, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Getting to the bottom of it

Why are these MARC records marked for deletion?

Greetings from Confusionville, Vermont.

A whole bunch of links are set to be deleted from our catalog. Trouble is, we still have access to many them. I don’t know why they’re all marked for deletion. I’m going through the 278-title list one by one and discovering that the individual analysis is complicated and quite time-consuming.

Some are legitimate purges, such as title changes. The rest (so far) are strange.

  • titles that EBSCO removed from the ScienceDirect Freedom Collection package list, but that we still have access to (I think EBSCO made a mistake)
  • titles that are still checked in the Title Wizard, but are marked for deletion in the batch load (maybe someone un-checked them at the time the list was run, and then re-checked them which is why I can see them now?)

I have no interest in making a habit of reviewing the to-purge list, but there are enough red flags this month that it seems worthwhile to go through them individually. But I am so confused and stuck. And this is no time to be stuck, because this has to be figured out.

Posted in EBSCO, MARC. Comments Off on Why are these MARC records marked for deletion?

Should this custom coverage stick?

A while ago I learned that custom coverage doesn’t stick to E-Journals from EBSCO records (back then they were known as EBSCOhost EJS in the A-to-Z list). This is because EBSCO updates our A-to-Z list nightly and according to their master database, which we customers can’t change.
Sometimes the managed coverage is incorrect. Because EBSCO looks at billing dates instead of available content when determining “coverage,” the managed coverage may be incorrect if:

  • there is rolling coverage
  • the title changed
  • the publisher changed (EBSCO uses a separate record)
  • we switched to an inappropriate online subscription and went back to print
  • or there’s a plain old error

I’ve gotten used to correcting the publisher’s site coverage using Collection Editor and contacting EBSCO to fix their coverage. It seems like it’s been a while since I did this, and I recently found a contradiction.

The managed coverage for the Canadian Journal of Botany was listed as 1997-present, but the publisher didn’t have content from 1997 online. I wrote to EBSCO and pointed this out, and (without thinking) changed the custom coverage myself. It stuck. For a while. For weeks.

At the same time, I tried changing the custom coverage for our Journal of Geophysical Research titles (an example where, for years, we kept getting switched to online access when we wanted print-only). That didn’t stick for very long. In this case, changing our managed coverage is a little more involved than sending a request to EBSCO, because their records show that we switched to online, but don’t show that we switched back to print only and never had the online access. This year, we took the plunge and went online only, so I need the dates to read 2008-present instead of 2002 or 2005. Our subscription agent is helping to explain the situation, and I hope it will be corrected.

I wrote to EBSCO today, using these examples, to ask whether customers can change custom coverage for EBSCO access. Whether it should or shouldn’t, there’s definitely a contradiction shown in these two examples.

Posted in EBSCO, MARC. Comments Off on Should this custom coverage stick?

CASPUR needs to disappear like a ghost

Any other EBSCO MARC customers noticing a whole slew of CASPUR references in their catalogs where there should be E-Journals from EBSCO?

I notified EBSCO as soon as heard about this but haven’t received any information or explanation yet. I searched our catalog for clues:

Number of e-journal records with “Available in E-Journals from EBSCO” = 0 (Uh-oh.)

Number of e-journal records with “http://ejournals.ebsco.com” = 2548 (Okay, they’re there, but…)

Number of e-journal records with “Available in CASPUR”= 2548 (… they’re called CASPUR. Grrrr.)

CASPUR has replaced the appropriate E-Journals from EBSCO information in these records’ 773 and 856 fields. The URL in the 856 is still ejournals.ebsco.com.

On top of the misidentification, there’s an access problem: even though the links go to the EBSCO records, the EBSCO links aren’t working. Looking back at some earlier, unrelated emails and printouts with catalog records, it seems that CASPURs appear in the last two MARC loads. The A-to-Z list still says E-Journals from EBSCO, but the access is still messed up.

I’m tagging this with “driving me nuts” not because I can’t figure out the problem (I’m betting it all lies with EBSCO, and is therefor out of my hands) but because it is so widespread and problematic. It’s really driving us all nuts.

Update 2/7/08: A rep at EBSCO was able to correct the problem. He sent us a new file and my colleague in systems loaded the MARC records yesterday. No more CASPUR. No more CASPUR jokes. No explanation, either.

Posted in Driving me nuts, EBSCO, MARC, Updates. Comments Off on CASPUR needs to disappear like a ghost

Two MARC records, one A-to-Z

A few months ago I wrote about an ongoing conversation with EBSCO in which I was trying to find out why we sometimes receive two MARC records for the same title. These records do not have the same EBZ number (035 field) and have different content. In the A-to-Z list, there’s only one record; in the catalog, these links are divided between the two records.

If patrons are looking through the catalog, they see two records. Hopefully they think to try them both. But why two?

At that time, the EBSCO rep told me that there were “two different resource IDs for that title”. It wasn’t until today that I really understood what that means. I came across another title, South Atlantic Quarterly, that has two MARC records and one A-to-Z record. I received the same explanation, that there are two resource IDs:

On two sources (E-Journals from EBSCO and OhioLINK Electronic Journals Center: EJC) this title is listed twice on their title lists, intentionally. The two separate URL links on each source go to different URL’s with different coverage dates (but still for the exact same title). This is how the vendor presents the content so this is how we list it.

According to the vendor? EBSCO doesn’t get to adjust or override this? Yet another reason I think we should consider a single-record approach to e-journals. Why require patrons to look at multiple records? In these cases, they would have to look at as many as three catalog records (one print, two electronic) before understanding the library’s holdings.

Should we still get EBSCO’s MARC records? We would probably still receive two South Atlantic Quarterly records. The print holdings would be attached… to one of the records. The bib record’s 856 field would contain a link to the A-to-Z list, not individual resources. The advantage is that EBSCO maintains the MARC records, so we wouldn’t be correcting things and making title changes. The disadvantage is that some changes we want to make to the record (like fixing subject headings) might not be possible. When we handed over responsibility, we handed over our control.

So should we return to maintaining our own bib records? Maybe, because if the records have a generic link to the A-to-Z list (not resource-specific) there’s really no need to have two records for some titles.

This starts to tie into conversations about the layout and display of our OPAC, which is being addressed by the Discovery & Delivery Council. The way to resolve some of these problems may be by improving the OPAC for our patrons.

Posted in EBSCO, MARC, Single-record approach. Comments Off on Two MARC records, one A-to-Z

More accurate managed coverage

This spring I had some problems using text in custom coverage (to indicate months). I came across this when working on a problem with the Harvard Business Review. It was apparently resolved in June, but over the summer I saw that the MARC record arrived without my custom begin date. I checked my custom coverage dates (all good) and waited. Now I’ve noticed that the MARC record was updated with my custom begin date… but without my custom end date.

I was about to revisit the problem with the EBSCO rep I’d been working with in the spring, and then I realized that because our access to this title is entirely through Gale databases, I don’t need to use custom coverage: everyone’s access is the same, so it’s the managed coverage that should be updated.

This end date is important to specify. Currently, EBSCO’s managed coverage for the title states 1997-2000.* Patrons presume that means all of 2000 is available in full text; however, that’s not the case, and it’s led to confusion and several queries from our patrons. Full text ends in May 2000, and that’s what I’ve asked EBSCO to indicate in their managed coverage end date.

EBSCO’s Content Team can make these changes very quickly. I’ve asked them to do several in the past, and sometimes (because we have a subscription and they don’t) they’ve asked me to send them screenshots of the resource in question to prove the coverage.

*To add to the confusion, somewhere in the middle of all of this the coverage changed from 1997-2005 to 1997-2000.

Posted in EBSCO, Gale, MARC. Comments Off on More accurate managed coverage