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 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.)


I received another troubleshooting report that wouldn’t have come up if the custom coverage showed up in the MARC record. In this case, instead of bringing it to EBSCO’s attention, I’m going to resolve it while tackling a larger problem.

This particular 856 (the one lacking coverage dates) is for SpringerLINK. We also have an 856 in this record for SpringerLINK (NERL), which is our consortial subscription. Because the list of titles in the SpringerLINK (NERL) package isn’t up-to-date, we added the SpringerLINK records to compensate for the missing titles.

I’m going to go through and look at all of the SpringerLINK records. If there is a second, SpringerLINK (NERL) record, I’ll remove the SpringerLINK link. The remaining SpringerLINK records will either be

  • part of our non-NERL Springer subscription, or
  • should be part of the NERL subscription.

It’s a somewhat daunting project, given the number of titles, but it will save me so much time in the end. I’ll have a clear picture of particular titles missing from the NERL list and I’ll avoid a few troubleshooting problems.

Posted in Access, EBSCO, Single-record approach, Workflow. Comments Off on SpringerLINK

Ten reasons for a single-record approach

I would very much like to have a single catalog record for each journal, rather than a separate one for print and electronic access. Here are ten reasons why:

1. It would better serve our patrons to go back to maintaining our own serials records rather than having EBSCO control (and sometimes refuse) the changes.

2. By linking from the catalog to the A-to-Z list, we would avoid the trouble of maintaining links and coverage dates in the catalog record.

(According to EBSCO, they “would likely strip down the 856 to the bare minimum and exclude coverage and embargo information – that would be discovered on the A-to-Z list.” That would be a single 856 field directing patrons to online access.)

3. Coverage dates (managed or custom) sometimes do not appear in the MARC record even though they appear in the A-to-Z. We could direct people to this information by having a single 856 field to all online access.

4. Every patron would see the notes and instructions in the A-to-Z list. Notes aren’t included in the MARC records, so people using the catalog might miss important information.

5. It cleans up the catalog. Less records. Clear results. Straightforward for patrons.

6. If we eliminate duplicate information, we will reduce (or eliminate) patrons’ confusion about coverage and access.

7. If we eliminate duplicate information, we will reduce amount of work for serials staff to answer troubleshooting questions related to missing or incorrect coverage dates and MARC records that have not been updated.

What if we didn’t get MARC updates from EBSCO?

8. If we maintain our own records, we can fix problems ourselves that take EBSCO a long time to address (e.g. the diacritic problems and extra characters in 245 fields).

9. If we maintain our own records, we can fix problems that EBSCO is unwilling to address (e.g. adjusting CONSER information, duplicate bib records, and unadjustable subject headings).

10. We wouldn’t have to confirm our changes in the monthly MARC updates. The A-to-Z list is updated immediately, but the MARC files are updated only monthly. Also, depending on when a correction is made, library staff may need check two consecutive MARC updates to ensure that outdated information doesn’t overlay corrected records.

Single-record approach takes on a canceled package

Our EBSCO load was delayed this month, so the Factiva links are still in the catalog (we canceled Factiva as of the end of October). I removed the links in the A-to-Z administrator at the beginning of November. There were thousands of Factiva titles so I decided to wait for the EBSCO load make the corrections, though I did pick about 200 popular titles and removed their links manually. Now we have over 3,700 links that look useful, but are in fact dead ends.

Hypothetically: If we were using a single-record approach and had one 856 field in the bib record that linked to the A-to-Z list, would we have this problem?

I think we would have a slightly different problem. Instead of having a catalog full of links that don’t provide us access we would have some records whose 856 fields didn’t lead to any access. I suppose we would still have to wait for EBSCO’s load to remove the 856 field. There would still only be one list to update, but any casualties of the cancellation (titles not available through another resource) would still clog up the catalog for a couple weeks.

(Questions for later: Would the record still arrive in the load if we didn’t have any electronic holdings? How would we ensure that the MARC record would stay if there were only print holdings?)

If it were the only resource for online access, at least the patron would see a blank list instead of a link they would presume to work. If there were more than one resource, at least the canceled subscription wouldn’t be listed in the A-to-Z list.

Posted in Access, Single-record approach. Comments Off on Single-record approach takes on a canceled package

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

EBSCO enhancement: where are end user access notes?

I use end user access notes to clarify problems or weirdness with our EBSCO or publisher access. I haven’t had to deal with any since September’s enhancements were released, and it wasn’t until today that I thought to check to see how they were incorporated into the new interface. Unfortunately, the notes aren’t there.

They’re missing from the EBSCO record and from the top of the new window that opens when you select the publisher’s site link from the EBSCO record. I’ve contacted the same EBSCO rep I was in touch with about the enhancement.

Update: The EBSCO rep said that notes should be entered using the “Notes and Icons” and “Collection Editor” features in the A-to-Z administrator. I’ve only recently become familiar with these options, and I’m excited to have a reason to use them. The notes in Collection Editor will be much more useful than the End User Access Notes (which we were advised to stop using) because they can be applied to any resource in the A-to-Z list, not just the EBSCO subscriptions (which were the only thing listed in the Registration Tracker).

I asked if the notes will appear in our MARC records. It would seem that they could, because the custom coverage information is obtained from the same area and does appear in the MARC. But I remember asking about this earlier and learning that the notes won’t appear in the catalog records. If this is the case, it’s another reason to direct patrons from the catalog to the A-to-Z list.

Update 10/24/07: The EBSCO rep replied:

It is not possible for these notes to be included on the MARC records provided by A-to-Z.

I am so ready to advocate for a single-record approach. We should direct users to the A-to-Z list (where this information exists) from the catalog rather than trying to duplicate the information in the catalog.

Posted in EBSCO, Single-record approach, Updates. Comments Off on EBSCO enhancement: where are end user access notes?

EBSCO’s approach to single records

A gentleman from EBSCO wrote to me in response to yesterday’s post. He asked about the subject headings, using Dance Magazine as an example; I’m not sure if the records differ because the DLC record for our print version has changed since it was downloaded years ago, or if it was a conscious decision by one of our staff members to change the heading.

He also responded to the idea I read about for linking from the catalog to the A-to-Z list.

This is something that we [at EBSCO] have discussed at length and we are looking at introducing as an option. If you think this is something you think you would be interested in exploring we can work with you on it. Basically, you would get one 856 field per record and that record would link to A-to-Z. To simplify maintenance on the library end, we would likely strip down the 856 to the bare minimum and exclude coverage and embargo information – that would be discovered on the A-to-Z list.

I asked a few follow-up questions. In the response, he pointed out that

By using the single 856 approach, maintenance becomes so much simpler when dealing with single records. You only need to be concerned with “adds” and “deletes” at the title level. If a new title is added to your A-to-Z collection, you want to either add an 856 to an existing print record or add a new record. If a title disappears from the A-to-Z collection, then you want to remove the 856 from your existing record or remove the entire record.

It also sounds like we would retain local cataloging if we want to, say, add a subject heading. It sounds as simple as adding the 856 field to our existing record (the one that already has the print/microfilm holdings).

It’s great to hear that EBSCO is exploring this option. I think it’s worth taking a look at this.

Posted in Cataloging, MARC, Single-record approach. Comments Off on EBSCO’s approach to single records