SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK research community, delivered by EDINA on behalf of Jisc.

SUNCAT enables researchers, students, librarians and others to locate serials held in libraries across the UK. The catalogue contains information on both print and electronic serials, including journals, periodicals, newspapers, newsletters, magazines, annual reports and other publications of a continuing nature.

The coverage of SUNCAT is steadily increasing, now with serials information from more than 100 libraries of the most significant research libraries in UK, including the national libraries (the British Library and the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales), most of the larger universities, key specialist libraries and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Serials records from CONSER and the ISSN Register are also included for use by Contributing Libraries.

SUNCAT is also a central source of quality bibliographic records. Libraries contributing to SUNCAT can download records in MARC format to upgrade their local catalogues.

Introduction to SUNCAT


For researchers

SUNCAT is a freely available tool designed to help researchers locate serials held in the UK. It provides information on the serials data of more than 100 libraries libraries and as such is the single most comprehensive source of UK serials holdings information. SUNCAT supports searching by title and subject so it is possible to find out both where a particular title is held in the UK and also to find what serials exist in a specific subject area. SUNCAT also has the facility to limit a search geographically to a particular region, city or library, allowing users to tailor their search to meet their needs.

For librarians

Librarians can also use SUNCAT to help their users locate serials, to locate serials for inter-library loan requests and for collection management purposes. Cataloguers can consult the MARC records on the web interface and download records in XML and SUTRS formats via a freely available Z39.50 connection. In addition, contributing libraries can download records in MARC format directly to their local catalogues via an authenticated Z39.50 connection.

Case Studies


SUNCAT is the single most comprehensive source of information about serials holdings in the UK.


SUNCAT is a union catalogue of serials. Serials differ from monographs (or books) in that they are published on a continuing basis, often in the form of regular issues but may also be produced on an irregular basis. Regular issues may be published daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually or even less frequently. SUNCAT accepts any records from libraries which they deem to be serials and therefore contains a wide variety of material but typical examples include journals, periodicals, newspapers, newsletters, magazines, proceedings and annual reports. To find information about monograph holdings in the UK, visit COPAC.

SUNCAT contains records for both print and electronic serials, including open access titles. Users may be able to access full text content of a journal provided their home institution has an active subscription.

SUNCAT contains information about serials at the title level, it does not contain article level information. SUNCAT is a tool to locate where serials are held in the UK. To find article-level information users should try searching a Full Text or an Abstracting and Indexing database. SUNCAT can then be used to find information about the serials containing articles of interest. Alternatively SUNCAT can be used as a starting point to locate serials in a particular field of interest.

In addition to the serials data from contributing libraries SUNCAT contains records from the CONSER database, the ISSN Register and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). CONSER records are generally high quality bibliographic records and these along with the ISSN records can be downloaded in MARC format by libraries contributing to SUNCAT. MARC records from other contributing libraries will be made available for download in the future.


In order to ensure the information on SUNCAT is kept current, the catalogue is updated on a regular basis. For information on the updating process and to check when particular libraries' data were last updated visit the updates page.


SUNCAT currently contains serials data of more than 100 libraries UK libraries. SUNCAT will grow in the future increasing both the geographic and specialist coverage of the catalogue.

Twenty-two libraries contributed records in Phase One of SUNCAT including the British Library, the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales and some of the largest research libraries in the UK. These libraries represent some of the largest serials collections in the UK and ensure SUNCAT contains a critical mass of titles.

An additional group of libraries were identified as desirable contributors to Phase Two of SUNCAT. These libraries include further large Higher Education institutions but also a number of specialist libraries with strong subject collections. These libraries have expanded the geographic and subject coverage of the catalogue and increased the number of unique titles in SUNCAT.


In 2001 research was undertaken to examine the feasibility of developing a UK National Union Catalogue, for all materials, including monographs and serials. During the project, the researchers met with librarians and academics and one of the main messages which emerged was that there was a real need for improved information about serials held in the UK, including information about the existence and location of serials and also details about serials holdings. Another particular issue that was highlighted in the study was the variable quality of bibliographic and holdings data in library catalogues. View the UKNUC Report (link downloads a PDF file - 721 kb).

It was decided not to proceed with a National Union Catalogue for monographs, but it was agreed to fund work to develop a serials union catalogue. Initial funding was secured for a Scoping Study which was undertaken by Information Power Ltd (this link downloads a PDF file).

Following this an Invitation to Tender was issued, initially for a 2 year period, with funding from the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) and RSLP (Research Support Libraries Programme).

The contract was awarded to EDINA with project partners Ex Libris, who supply the Library Management System, ALEPH, underpinning SUNCAT. In addition, a group of libraries, representing some of the largest serial collections in the UK worked closely with the project team from the start as early contributors and associate partners, including

  • Cambridge University
  • Edinburgh University
  • Glasgow University
  • National Library of Scotland
  • Oxford University


SUNCAT development was scheduled in three phases:

Phase 1 (2003-04): a union catalogue was created from the records of twenty two leading research libraries and from CONSER and the ISSN Register. Records are held in MARC21 format and cover a critical mass of titles held in UK research libraries.

Phase 2 (2005-07): coverage increased to include specialist collections and older and rarer materials. SUNCAT became the first port of call for information about serials held in UK libraries.

Phase 3 (2007- ): the service is consolidating to ensure its long-term stability.

Aims and Objectives

As a a national union catalogue of serials for the UK research community, SUNCAT aims to:

Be the key online tool for researchers to locate serials throughout the UK, provide librarians with a central source of high-quality bibliographic records for upgrading local catalogues and raise consciousness of the importance of quality serials information among UK researchers and librarians.

Who is involved

SUNCAT is now funded solely by JISC. The University of Edinburgh, operating through EDINA, is lead partner responsible for project management, hosting, technical input (architecture, systems, and interface), user-support and training.

Twenty-two leading UK research libraries have contributed records in Phase 1, and over 40 libraries contributed records in Phase 2.

Ex Libris has provided software to build the system. The libraries of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh and the National Library of Scotland were the first to contribute records.


  • Service Manager: Mary Elder (EDINA)
  • Bibliographic: Natasha Aburrow-Jones (EDINA), Celia Jenkins (EDINA), Helen Burns (EDINA)

The SUNCAT team also received invaluable help and advice from a number of sources during the set up and development of the service.

SUNCAT Steering Committee (2003-2007)

  • Chair: Derek Law (University of Strathclyde)
  • Rachel Bruce (JISC)
  • Peter Burnett (University of Oxford)
  • Margaret Coutts (University of Leeds)
  • Clive Field (British Library)
  • Andrew Green (National Library of Wales)
  • Abiodun Obafemi (JISC)
  • John Robinson (JISC)

Bibliographic Quality Advisory Group (2003-2009)

  • Chair: Elize Rowan (University of Edinburgh).
  • Caroline Lowrey (National Library of Scotland)
  • Sue Miles (University of Oxford)
  • Rosemary Stenson (University of Glasgow)
  • Hugh Taylor (University of Cambridge)
  • Janet Wharton (University of Nottingham)

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