Syllabus for Managing Print and Electronic Serials

An overview of serials management issues and concepts. It will acquaint library school students and new serials librarians with the range of activities involved in managing print and electronic serials. The topics may also be applied to integrating resources, as many of the same activities are also relevant to these resources. This syllabus represents a full semester's study.

I. The Serials Environment

  1. Definitions and characteristics of a serial, both print and electronic
  2. Terminology of the serials world
  3. History of serials—the transition from print to electronic
  4. Proliferation of electronic serials and its impact on the stakeholders in the serials community: publishers, subscription agents, vendors, libraries, users
  5. Serial vs. integrating resource
  6. Standards in the serials world: ISSN, DOI, EDI, ERMI, ONIX for serials, OpenURL, XML, COUNTER, SUSHI, SERU, etc.

II. Processes of Serials Management

  1. The management processes for print serials
    1. Acquisition process
      1. Role of vendors and subscription agents
      2. Evaluation and selection of vendors
    2. Receipt and physical process
    3. Retention, circulation, and preservation process
  2. The management processes for electronic serials
    1. License negotiation, technical evaluation, and business negotiation
    2. Implementation process
    3. Maintenance and review
  3. Similarities and differences between the management processes for print serials and those for electronic serials

III. Managing Print Serials

  1. Acquisitions Functions
    1. Ordering information
    2. Claiming new orders
    3. Invoices and payments processing
  2. Processing functions
    1. Receipt and distribution of incoming materials
    2. Missing and replacement issues: claiming and back issue dealers
    3. Bindery control: commercial binders and binding incomplete
  3. Access management
    1. Catalog records
    2. Holdings records
    3. In-house serials lists
    4. Union lists
    5. Integration with the Library’s web site
  4. Storage and public use
    1. Organization of paper formats
      1. Integrated with other collections
      2. Shelved in separate sequence (classed or alphabetical by title; implications of title changes)
    2. Organization of non-paper formats
      1. Housing
      2. Equipment for use

IV. Managing Electronic Serials

  1. Licensing and business negotiation
    1. Pricing models: FTEs, number of simultaneous users, multi-year contracts, etc.
    2. Terms of use
    3. Subscription agents, publishers direct, associations
    4. Bundled vs. individual subscriptions
    5. Consortia vs. single library agreements
    6. Renewal and cancellation
  2. Implementation process
    1. Registration and activation
    2. User authentication
    3. Subscription management: administrative metadata
  3. Access management
    1. Access via third party gateway or platform services
    2. Embargos
    3. Access from within the OPAC
    4. A-Z title lists
    5. Link resolvers
    6. Metasearch services
    7. Trouble shooting access problems and user support
    8. Effect of access management issues on collection development policies
  4. Archiving and preservation issues

V. Serials Management Tools

  1. Serials modules of integrated library systems
  2. Electronic resource management systems (ERMS)
  3. Link resolvers
  4. Metasearch tools
  5. Outsourcing options for A-Z lists, full MARC records, etc.

VI. Staffing and Workflows

  1. Skills needed by serials management staff
  2. Workflow design
  3. Leveraging staffing, workflow, and tools to create a serials management model that will meet local needs

VII. Analyzing Usage Statistics and Evaluating Services

  1. Gathering usage statistics: COUNTER and SUSHI
  2. Analyzing usage statistics
  3. Evaluating services and seeking improvement

Selected Bibliography

Serial Publications

Acquisitions Librarian. New York: Haworth Press, 1989–

Advances in Serials Management. Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1986–2000.

Against the Grain. Charleston, SC: Katina Strauch, 1989–

North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) Proceedings, co-published simultaneously as The Serials Librarian. New York: Haworth Press, 1986–

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

Serials Review. New York: Elsevier, 1975–

Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community. Oxford: United Kingdom Serials Group, 1988–


Black, Steven. Serials in Libraries: Issues and Practices. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited, 2006.

Bluh, Pamela. Managing Electronic Serials: Essays Based on the ALCTS Electronic Serials Institutes, 1997–1999. ALCTS papers on library technical services and collections, no. 9. Chicago: American Library Association, 2001.

Conger, Joan E. Collaborative Electronic Resource Management: From Acquisitions to Assessment. Westport, CT: Libraries Limited, 2004.

Curtis, Donnelyn, Virginia M. Scheschy. E-journals: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Building, Managing, and Supporting Electronic Journal Collections. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2005.

The E-resources Management Handbook, Oxford: United Kingdom Serials Group, 2007, (viewed June 20, 2007).

Fowler, David C. Usage Statistics of E-serials. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Information Press, 2007.

Ives, Gary. Electronic Journal Management Systems: Experiences from the Field. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Information Press, 2005.

Jones, Wayne. E-serials: Publishers, Libraries, Users, and Standards. Haworth series in serials and continuing resources. New York: Haworth Information Press, 2003.

Kidd, Tony, and Lyndsay Rees-Jones. The Serials Management Handbook: a Practical Guide to Print and Electronic Serials Management. London: Library Association Pub, 2000.

Lightman, Harriet, and John P. Blosser. Perspectives on Serials in the Hybrid Environment. Chicago: Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, 2007.

Nisonger, Thomas E., Management of Serials in Libraries. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1998 (especially useful for serials historical background).

Prevailing & Best Practices in Electronic and Print Serials Management. New York, N.Y.: Primary Research Group, 2006.

Russell, Rosemary. Making sense of standards and technologies for serials management: a guide to practice and future developments for librarians, publishers, and systems developers. London: Library Association Pub, 2000.

Szilvassy, Judith, Basic Serials Management Handbook; under the auspices of the IFLA Section on Serial Publications. Munich: K.G. Saur, 1996, (viewed June 21, 2007).

Tuttle, Marcia, Introduction to Serials Management; with chapters by Luke Swindler, Nancy I. White. Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1983.

Tuttle, Marcia; with chapters by Luke Swindler, Frieda B. Rosenberg. Managing Serials. Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1996.

Discussion Lists




Liblicense-L (Licensing).




SERIALST (Serials).

ERIL-L (Electronic Resources in Libraries).

Web Resources

ALCTS Newsletter Online.

Association of Research Libraries -- Scholarly Communication -- Licensing.

CONSER: Cooperative Online Serials.

Digital Library Federation, Electronic Resource Management: Report of the DLF ERMI Initiative (Washington, D.C.: Digital Library Federation, 2004)

Digital Library Federation Electronic Resource Management Initiative, Phase II. Site:; Blog:

ISSN International Center.

Internet Library for Librarians: Acquisitions, Serials, and Collection Development.

Liblicense: Licensing Digital Information.

The Library of Congress Standards.

NISO—National Information Standards Organization.

NISO/EDItEUR: ONIX for Serials.

North American Serials Interest Group.

Project COUNTER.

Serials Librarian Web Resources for Serialists.

Shared E-Resource Understanding (SERU).

UK Serials Group.


Erin Liu Wise, Metadata & Taxonomy Librarian, Harvard Business School and Paoshan Yue, Director of Technical Services, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries. March 24, 2008