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11-17: Magazines


Collection Management

The end of the year is often a good time to assess our magazine collections, as that's when many subscriptions renew. You can evaluate usage of magazine titles by either observing patrons in the magazine section or looking at circ numbers in a report.

Another aspect of managing a magazine collection is deciding how many back issues to keep. CREW guidelines for this area are rather vague, only stating that “most patrons rarely refer to a magazine that is more than three years old.” For many titles, of course, the shelf life is much shorter, especially for weekly current affairs titles like Time and People, where there is rarely, if ever, demand for issues more than a few months after publication (plus all those back issues take up a lot of shelf space).

Database Clean-Up

Now that I've decided what I'm going to keep, how do I make sure the catalog accurately reflects what I have (and more importantly what I don't have)?

Option 1

If you use the traditional method for cataloging magazines (linking issues to uncataloged records, option 1 here), database clean-up is relatively straightforward. Each magazine title should have a placeholder item record linked to the bib record for that title. In order to find out which periodical bib records your library has linked placeholders to, you can perform the following search:

For this portion, make sure you are doing a bib record search and be sure you have selected “Type of Material”. You also need to make sure to limit it to your library in the Branches tab. When I ran this search for my library I found at least a handful of titles we hadn't owned in years, because no one had ever thought to go back and take out the placeholders. I was also able to determine that there were a number of titles that we owned but had no placeholder records for. This is where SkyRiver comes in handy - just make sure to email cataloging@bccls.org to let them know you're importing a record for a magazine so it doesn't get rejected!

The next step is to look through your uncataloged records and make sure what's in there reflects which magazines you actually still have on your shelf.

This search will bring up a list of all of the uncataloged records that you have magazines linked to (since bib records are deleted after a certain period of time when they have no item records attached). All you have to do is look at the list of items linked to each bib record (especially the older years) and make sure it seems like it reflects the holdings information in your placeholder records (and of course what's actually on the shelf). When I did this for my library's collection last year, I found several hundred item records that should have been withdrawn long before. Even in this current search, there are least a few item records that shouldn't be there (the longest we keep magazines is 3 years, and that's only a few titles, so those 2013 records and most of the 2014 records definitely shouldn't be there anymore).

Option 2

If you use the recently introduced method for cataloging magazines (linking issues directly to the actual title, option 2 here), you have to use a different method. Probably the most straight-forward option is to run the following search:

In item records, search by “First Available Date” (I know, I didn't know that existed either), and limit by “Assigned Branch” to your library. When choosing which dates to search by, I would recommend choosing a date pretty far in the past for the “from” date (or least as long as you've been linking magazines using option 2), and then using a date at least a few months older than your typical holding period for the “to” date just to give yourself a cushion for things like bimonthly or quarterly publications. In the above example I chose a date 1 year and 4 months prior to this writing, since we keep most of our magazine titles for 1 year.

In order to limit your results to magazines (as opposed to every item record created in your library during that time period), go to the “Collections” tab and select only your “Periodical” collections.

Note: From the above screenshot, don't forget to scroll down to include “YA Periodical” if you have them.

Finally, I would export all the items into a record set so you can more easily evaluate them.

Once you have what you're looking for in the record set, you can just look through it and remove any items that you know should remain in your collection (e.g. any titles that you keep longer than your standard time period, also any current placeholder records that show up), and then once you're sure what's left reflects items that you no longer own, you can do a bulk change and withdraw everything.

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