Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Flexibility in the Face of Change: A Review of the Serials Literature, 2010-11

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Flexibility in the Face of Change: A Review of the Serials Literature, 2010-11

Article excerpt

The serials literature for 2010-11 reflects the need for all members of the serials information chain to denwnstrate flexibility in the face of constant change. Both the current economic context and the rapid development of technology are providing users with more option, s than ever before for fulfilling their information needs. The literature reflects this and the actions that members of the serials information chain are taking to evaluate, measure, and deliver serials' content in new and creative ways. The major themes in the serials' literature--workflows and processes, access to serials, metrics, and changing user behavior--are described and illustrated using examples from a selection of materials published during 2010-11.

The serials literature for 2010-11 reflects an evolution of the serials information chain that librarians on the front lines will immediately recognize. The serials information chain comprises "serials librarians, serials publishers, subscription agents, representatives of bibliographic utilities, and library science educators--in short, all parties interested in serials." (1) Stringent economic conditions are forcing libraries to assess and reassess the value of every dollar spent on collections. The technologies through which libraries deliver the content of serials collections have advanced rapidly. The combination of these occurrences has created an atmosphere of change and evolution. Users are conveying their desire for content and content delivery through word and action, and every member of the serials information chain from librarians to publishers to vendors to agents are working in collaboration to understand these needs, to develop systems and processes to respond to them, to measure them, and to anticipate what they will be in the years to come.

The author compiled, selected, and analyzed the literature for this review using qualitative research methods with the assistance of a graduate research assistant (GILA). The author and the GRA identified an initial group of 419 articles published in the 2010 and 2011 volumes of three core serials journals: The Serials Librarian, Serials Review, and Serials. The author and the GRA used these sources to identify key words that they then used for a broader literature search in the databases Library, Information Science and Technology Abstracts. with Full Text, and Library and Information Science Abstracts. The author and the GRA identified additional materials via citations to and within the initial article collection as well as from the archives of SERIALST, "an informal electronic forum for most aspects of serials processing in libraries." (2) The final pool of documents contained 598 items. In addition to appearing in these sources, criteria for selection at this stage were broad, consisting of language (English) and publication date (2010 or 2011).

The author and the GRA read article abstracts and, in many cases, the articles themselves, making notes on content and suitability for inclusion in the review. The author loaded these citations, abstracts, and notes into NVivo 9 (a qualitative data analysis software) and read and annotated any unread items. She inserted her additional notes into NVivo 9, then reviewed the data again, this time for the purpose of identifying topical patterns and themes (NVivo calls them nodes). The author coded (i.e., identified with) each summary, abstract, and note at one or more thematic nodes. The author reviewed the resulting list of thematic nodes for content. She selected thematic nodes for inclusion in this literature review on the basis of a combination of coverage in the literature and relevance to members of the serials information chain. Finally, the author reviewed the material coded at each thematic node to further develop definitions of and ideas about the themes they represented. The breadth of the serials literature precludes the inclusion of all of the topical nodes in this review. …

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