Larry Trotter is the very model of a modern information specialist working in the University Learning Resource Centre (LRC). Once a generic reference librarian, he has been handed a reading list of materials that a class of 200 undergraduates will be expected to read in the new term.
Task 1: Larry prepares to gather the contents of the list in the library reserve collection so that they are available for as many students as possible. Much of the content on the list consists of journal articles. The references are very basic and most are incomplete. None of them have ISSNs. Larry knows about SUNCAT from the latest issue of the CILIP UPDATE newsletter. He is delighted to find that he can readily verify, and thus amend the journal titles on the list, and by including the relevant ISSN, he can put in the order for copies of the articles that the LRC does not itself hold. Job done.
Maggie Braid wears two serials hats: she is both responsible for serials acquisitions and for ensuring that serials are well catered for within the library system; she once managed a separate serials list. She also shares some responsibility for ILL, now re-named again as eDoc. She has two major tasks ahead of her. One is preparation for the annual devolved budgeting exercise. The other is this email from her Chief about SUNCAT that supposedly offers a way to upgrade the quality of the serials records in the library catalogue. "About time someone took serials seriously", she thinks to herself, "but where do we find the time to re-catalogue?"
Task 1: She reads on, taking in the sentence about "user-friendly, cost-effective...", to click on http://www.suncat.ac.uk. From a quick read of the relevant webpages, she is relieved to read that this might be much better than she had feared. True, she has to set aside time to have the library systems people export the serials records into a file, but this can be done. She then has to work with the relevant SUNCAT bibliographic team to describe her data and specify conversion routines to normalise them for storage and display in SUNCAT. True, she then has to use ftp. True, she then has to take time to review and verify the matches of records. But in return she has access to quality MARC21 records, complete with ISSN and with Library of Congress subject headings. Brilliant
Task 2: Subscription prices have increased again, beyond the size of the available budget, so Departments, clustered as Planning Units, are required to identify titles for cancellation. Maggie discovers that SUNCAT can be used to check which subscribed titles are available at the other universities in the city. Mindful of the discussions they were all having on resource sharing to optimise use of budgets, she downloads the title and summary information and circulates this to serials management librarians at these other universities. She also uses cut and paste from her subscription database and the ISSN to draw up a report on what could be cut, and with what savings. This will serve her well in the months ahead as she negotiates with the academic departments in her own institution. Excellent.