Syllabus for Serials Collection Management and Acquisitions

Acquaints or refreshes those who need to become familiar with the current aspects of selection, funding, and acquisitions, specific to serial publications, regardless of format (print or e-resources).

I. What is a serial?

  1. Standard professional and industry definitions of a serial, both print and electronic
  2. Local institution (your library) definition of serials, frequently based upon workflow, procedures, and staffing
  3. Terminology of the serials world
  4. Aggregated databases vs. e-journal subscriptions

II. History

  1. Serials print history
  2. Electronic journal history
  3. Impact of serial costs on libraries

III. Collection Development Policy

  1. Functions of a policy statement as it addresses serials acquisitions including the acquisition of e-resources
  2. Outreach and liaison strategies to meet acquisitions needs of all library constituents
  3. Access vs. ownership including
    1. Overview of copyright and licensing issues
    2. Archival rights and costs
  4. Role of consortia in collection building and resource sharing

IV. Budget Allocation

  1. Impact of serials on the materials budget
    1. Serials as a portion of the overall materials budget
    2. Price increases
    3. Role of multiple years cost analysis reports (either generated from in-house ILS systems and/or vendors)
    4. E-access "free with print" or with additional charge
  2. Methodology for estimating serials prices for next fiscal year
    1. Domestic and International
    2. By discipline and/or fund allocation
    3. By type of publisher (i.e., STM)
  3. Vendor Selection Considerations
    1. Bidding, contracts (formal and letters of agreement, RFI and RFP processes)

V. Selection Process

  1. Selection of titles new to the library
    1. Traditional print review sources
    2. E-review sources
    3. Faculty/student input
  2. Cancellations
    1. Procedure for core review and cancellation
    2. Access vs. ownership
    3. Successfully marketing content available through alternative sources (i.e., e-resources)
    4. Criteria for potential cancellations
    5. Impact of Cancellations

VI. Method of Acquisition

  1. Consortia purchases—at state-wide level and through self-defined consortia
  2. Access vs. ownership including document delivery
  3. Vendors vs. order direct
  4. Gifts and exchange
  5. Bundled subscriptions
  6. Open Access

Selected Bibliography

Against the Grain. Quarterly. Charleston, SC, 1989–.

Collection Management. New York: Haworth Press, 1976–.

Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship. Quarterly. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor & Francis Group, 2008–.

Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services. Quarterly.  New York: Pergamon, 1999–.

The Serials Librarian. Quarterly. New York: Haworth, 1976–.

The Serials Librarian. v. 36 (1999–) (Available online for subscribers

Serials Review. Quarterly. Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian, 1975–.

Serials Review. v. 21 (1995–) (Available online for subscribers

Discussion Lists

AcqWeb (Acquisitions)

Includes blogs and forums.

COLLDV-L (Collection Development)
To subscribe
For archives

ERIL-L (Electronic Resources)
To subscribe
For archives

Liblicense-L (Licensing)
January 1997–November 2011

November 2011–

SERIALST (Serials)

Web Resources

ALCTS Newsletter Online (ANO)

Back Issues & Exchange Services Links to serials discussion and exchange lists.

Coalition for Networked Information

Collection Development Training for Arizona Public Libraries Overview of collection development and acquisitions processes for public libraries.

Copyright, Library of Congress. U.S. Copyright Office

Critical Evaluation of Resources

Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L)

Internet Library for Librarians

Licensing Electronic Resources

Marc 21 Concise Format for Classification Data

North American Serials Interest Group

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography

Serials in Cyberspace: Collections, Resources, and Services

The Library of Congress Standards


By Daisy Waters, Assistant Acquisitions Librarian for Electronic Resources, Central Technical Services, University at Buffalo and Virginia Taffurelli, Head of Technical Processing, Science, Industry and Business Library, The New York Public Library

The syllabus was modified in March 2005 and again in October 2012, including major revision of the bibliography, by members of the ALCTS CRS Education, Research & Publications Coordinating Committee: Lori Duggan (Indiana University) and Mavis Molto (Utah State University).

Revision: 2012