Harvard College Library

Widener Serial Records Perseveres, Completes Publication Pattern Project

May 1, 2002 --As the transition to ALEPH quickly approaches many HCL employees find their workload increasing, and the idea that the new web-based system will eventually make for a more efficient work environment seems like a distant dream. Yet, for the Widener Serial Records Division the benefits of the new system are already in sight. They recently completed a project that will revolutionize how serial records are received.

Working full time, five temporary staff members spent over a month inputting approximately 12,400 serial publication patterns (such as quarterly, annually) into a sub-field of the item's MARC holding record. This information will enable ALEPH to predict when the serial will next be published and, based on past receipt dates, when it should arrive at Widener - a feature that the current HOLLIS does not offer.

"If we had not undertaken this project, we would face large backlogs in the post-Aleph world. Without the publication pattern feature, staff would have to rebuild each record when checking in an item. That would mean inputting all issue specific information, such as publication date, volume, and issue number. This project will also aid other Harvard Libraries who will be able to use Widener's holding records as a template to copy into their own records," said Marilyn Wood, head of Access Services, Widener.

In order to complete the time intensive project, the staff first located accurate publication information by looking through the most current serial on the shelf. They then keyed that information into the item's record, so ALEPH will be able to extrapolate the anticipated arrival of the next installment.

"This will make the serial receipt process easier for staff, who will no longer have to manually type in receipt information when the items arrive. Staff will now simply verify that the expected item is what is in their hand. This will speed up check in, and ultimately get the materials on the shelf faster so they are available to users," said Jean Lenville, head of Serial Records Division.

Lenville noted that another benefit of the prediction feature is that discrepancies will be more noticeable. For example, if a serial does not arrive by its expected time, the division can contact the publisher and solve any potential problems.

This story appears courtesy of the Harvard College Library Communications Office
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