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Automated support for union lists of serials

Library Systems Newsletter [September 1988]

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What options are there for supporting a union list of serials? Too many to fit all of them into this issue of LSN, but we have put together a selection to give readers an idea of the breadth of choice. Included are multifunction local library systems, standalone serials control systems, bibliographic utilities and serials jobber's systems. In order to make comparisons among options, some parameters are needed. The discussion of the options which follows assumes a group of 170 libraries over a multi-state area, with 93,000 holdings of 15,500 unique titles. Sixteen of the libraries are large enough to require a dedicated terminal for input and inquiry; the remainder will share four dial-in ports and use a COM edition of the list. The vendors are arranged alphabetically. In each case, telecommunications has been assumed to cost $36,000 a year, except where specifically noted otherwise.


PHILSOM (Periodical Holdings in Libraries of Schools of Medicine) is an automated serials control and union listing software package designed by the Washington University School of Medicine Library (WUSML). Product marketing and support is handled by Advanced Computer Concepts of St. Louis. While the targeted market is medical libraries, the product is suitable for all types of libraries.

PHILSOM is available as a standalone serials control and union listing system or as a module within the multifunction Bibliographic Access & Control System (BACS) automated library system software. Both PHILSOM and BACS are written in MUMPS. There are two versions of the PHILSOM software, one for an IBM PC AT or compatible, and one for minicomputer hardware--any machine that supports the MUMPS operating system. An AT-based system is said to be able to manage 7,000 to 10,000 journal titles using all serial control capabilities.

PHILSOM includes capabilities for check-in, claiming, binding, and routing in addition to union list generation. It does not support the MARC format, but uses the Union Catalog of Medical Periodicals format. There is an interface for loading OCLC records, and custom interfaces have been developed for loading records from local automated library systems such as CLSI. Records output from PHILSOM can be processed through custom software to generate tapes in the MARC format. The PC version of the system accepts and outputs data to floppy disk.

The files may be searched by record control number, International Standard Serial Number, derived search key, and keyword and Boolean searches. A library can define the fields to be indexed for keyword searching, and those for Boolean operations. Holdings statements are specific at the issue level and are entered according to local library practice.

PHILSOM supports a number of union listing outputs in print or machine-readable format and generates COM ready print tapes for dispatch to a COM vendor.

The price for the software is the same for the micro- and minicomputer implementations supporting an application for multiple libraries--$6,000 with an annual maintenance charge of $2,500. Minicomputer users also need to purchase the MUMPS operating system, which is available in a variety of versions and price ranges. A tape drive is required for the output of COM ready print tapes. Hardware prices vary because of the large number of options, but a system with 16 terminals and 4 dial-in ports can cost as little as $100,000.

[Contact: Advanced Computer Concepts, 46 Hilldale, St. Louis, MO 63105; (314) 862-1898 or (314) 362-7065.1


CLSI, Inc. markets a turnkey library automated system using the UNIX operating system and Altos and Sequent processors. Serials control currently is based on the Blackwell Perline software and is mounted on a separate CPU interfaced with the central system. There are plans to migrate it onto the Altos or Sequent central processor by mid-1989, and fully integrating it with the other functions by 1990. For a serial union listing application such as we researched, CLSI recommended use of the basic cataloging and data base maintenance module if implementation were to be undertaken before Fall 1989 rather than the CL-Perline software because holdings statements in CL-Perline are not currently recorded in the MARC format. The basic inquiry module was recommended, rather than the patron access catalog search facility, to reduce software cost. These modules would support data base creation and, once the MARC output facility is available later this year, the capability to output a MARC formatted tape of union list data. Items in the tape output could be selected on a variety of criteria--by institution, date, items added or changed since a certain date, etc. However, this tape would require processing by a library service vendor to produce a print tape suitable for COM production.

An Altos-based configuration with 16 terminals and four dial-access ports for remote inquiry and data entry, a tape drive, and software for basic inquiry and MARC cataloging could cost in the region of $75,000, inclusive of installation and training. CLSI offers an OCLC interface and usually includes it in the bid price. It also offers UTLAS, MiniMARC, and BiblioFile interfaces at extra cost.

[Contact: CLSI, Inc., 320 Nevada Street, Newtonville, MA 02160; (617) 965-6310.]


Data Research Associates (DRA) is the only turnkey automated library system vendor to offer a special purpose union list of serials capability as part of a local library system. An installation dedicated to the union list of serials application requires purchase of that module together with the data base maintenance and circulation control modules. This combination provides full MARC record capability, and inquiry level searching of the files. MARC formatted tapes can be loaded, and an online interface to OCLC is available. The system outputs records in the MARC format.

Although not currently available, the vendor has a contractual obligation to provide one of its clients with the ability to download records from the system onto a floppy disk that can be edited on a personal computer at a remote site and uploaded back onto the system, The serials unionlist module produces COM and offset printing tapes for dispatch to a production facility without further processing. Hard-copy listings can be generated on the system printer. A variety of formatting options is available for selection and sorting of output.

Software pricing varies according to the size of the processor, the serials union list module ranging from $7,500 to $25,000 and the package of data base maintenance control software from $30,000 to $75,000. The vendor normally supplies hardware, software, maintenance, and training, quoting all elements in a formal proposal.

Software-only sales are available, but carry a surcharge of $20,000. The cost for a serials union listing system based on a MicroVAX II capable of supporting up to 30 local and remote terminals would be in the region of $100,000.

[Contact: Data Research Associates, Inc., 1276 North Warson Road, St. Louis, MO 63132; (314) 431-1100.]


Faxon offers a serials union list system to all libraries, not just those that place their subscriptions with Faxon. The system accepts data by transfer from Faxon's online SC-10 serials control system, by keying, and by electronic or floppy disk upload from Faxon's MicroLinx serials check-in system. The MicroLinx upload capability is in the final phases of testing, and Faxon plans to develop the capability to download data from the serials union list to MicroLinx. MicroLinx supports the MARC format for serial holdings in these applications. Custom programming is available to enable the loading of tapes from other systems, but no standard software has been developed for this function. Sixteen union list groups are using Faxon to support their systems.

Libraries that participate in a union list group but do not have online access to the system arrange for their records to be keyed by another library, or can input them to MicroLinx. Any union list member with the appropriate hardware can access the system for online lookup and data entry. Data from the union listing system can be output in the MARC format.

The system can be accessed using a variety of terminals including DEC, IBM, Lear-Siegler, Hazeltine, Hewlett-Packard, and Xerox. Microcomputers configured with terminal emulation software can also be used.

Union list records can be accessed online by Faxon Title Number, ISSN, Library of Congress Card Number, union list control number, and title. The Faxon title number is a required element in all records in a union list. The local information accommodated includes location and sublocations, call number, acquisition status of the copy, summary holdings statement, cumulative holdings, and copy-specific comments.

Faxon requires that one library in a union list group assume editorial responsibility for the file. This entails monitoring member input and ensuring that each new title is input with its appropriate Faxon title number. To assist the editorial site, Faxon provides online access to its resource file of MARC records and the Faxon title file at no charge other than telecommunications costs. If a library reports a title not in the Faxon title file, Faxon will add the title and assign it an appropriate Faxon title number.

Union list outputs are available in fiche, hardcopy, or magnetic tape. Current output formats include Union lists, keyword indexes to union lists, individual library listings, statistical reports, and management reports.

Union list charges vary with the number of records on the system, with discounts applied for volume use. The maximum monthly charge for a library's union list records is $.05 per active record, and $.025 for inactive records. For 15,500 active records, the annual cost would be $9,300. Dial access is available via WATS ($20 per hour) or Compuserve ($15 per hour) and dedicated lines are available for $300 per month. Assuming 2,400 a year in online access, the cost of using Faxon through Compuserve would be $36,000 a year, thus bringing the annual cost to $45,300, somewhat higher than access to a local library system located somewhat nearer the libraries. Prices for union list output products were not readily available for a hypothetical quotation.

[Contact: The Faxon Company Inc., 15 Southwest Park, Westwood, MA 02090; (617) 329-3350.]


Geac specializes in turnkey online banking and library systems. It designs and builds its own minicomputers, the Geac 6000, 8000, and 9000. It is not possible to use inexpensive ASCII type terminals on the system except in a dial-up mode. Geac configures the 9000 in different ways to appeal to smaller libraries. Systems as small as 30 terminals are being pursued. However, Geac recently announced the purchase of ALII, and may make major changes in its marketing and pricing strategies.

Geac supports data base creation and maintenance, authority control, acquisitions, circulation control, and patron access catalog functions. Serials control is part of the acquisitions module. While the system does not contain a specific serial union listing module, company representatives indicated that the function could be performed using the serials control software, the system report writer to select records for output, and the COM tape generation facility that is part of the cataloging module. The COM generation software offers a wide range of entry and file formatting capabilities.

The serials control function supports the normal range of capabilities including the ANSI holdings format. The module does not automatically concatenate detailed holdings statements into a summary statement but has provision in the record format for the manual recording of summary holdings. The system has both on-line and tape loading interfaces for MARC records from OCLC, RLIN, and UTLAS records. It can also output MARC formatted tapes.

The typical price of a GLIS 9000 system with 16 dedicated terminals and four dial-in ports, with all associated hardware and software, would be approximately $168,000.

[Contact: Geac Canada Inc., 350 Steelcase Road West, Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 1B3; (416) 475-0525]


Innovative Interfaces uses 16 bit processors for its INNOVACQ acquisitions and serials control system; the circulation and patron access catalog modules are configured around the 32 bit Digital VAX line of computers.

The company is in the process of changing its hardware platform to standard Digital hardware and the UNIX operating system. The rewrite should be completed in 1989.

Innovative Interfaces offers online interfaces to OCLC and RLIN, as well as a range of tape loading options, including loading of records from the OCLC Serials Union List. A tape interface with Faxon has been developed.

Innovative Interfaces has no dedicated serials union listing module, but strong capabilities in the serials control area. At least one client uses the serials control system to output MARC formatted tapes that are then sent to a processing service to generate COM ready print tapes. The cost of an Innovacq system with 16 dedicated terminals, four dial-in ports, and other necessary hardware and software would be approximately $120,000.

[Contact: Innovative Interfaces, Inc., 2344 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710; (415) 644-3650.]


NOTIS markets a supported software package with acquisitions, cataloging, authority control, circulation, serials control, online patron access catalog, and interlibrary loan capabilities. There is no serial union listing capability, and it is not clear to what extent the software would support a union listing application, particularly as the serials control module does not currently support the MARC format for holdings and locations. However, the software does include a COM tape generation capability and a report writer. Should there be an existing NOTIS system available, the bibliographic and holdings information might be input via the cataloging module rather than the serials control module, data for output selected using the report writer capability, and formatted using the COM software which is designed for monograph rather than serial records. NOTIS provides tape and online interfaces to OCLC and RLIN.

The software price is $130,000 to $160,000, but with an additional $35,000 license fee for each library sharing the software. Software maintenance is $25,000 a year. It may be possible to negotiate a special rate for a shared application of only a part of the system. NOTIS does not usually unbundle the software to sell only one module. The only realistic option would be to mount the application on a system already in use in a union list member library. A NOTIS system requires at least $100,000 a year in ongoing analysis and programming support.

NOTIS does not sell hardware, but it has generally recommended the IBM 43xx series mainframes and compatibles, the processor with the most upgrade options. The basic configuration for all except the smallest libraries requires a model 11, the model 14 can support as many as 500 terminals. NOTIS uses either the IBM DOS/VSE or MVS operating system. It also requires the IBM teleprocessing monitor, CICS.

[Contact: NOTIS Systems, Inc., 1007 Church Street, 2nd Floor, Evanston, IL 60201; (312) 866-0150.]


OCLC's union listing capability was installed in 1980 and supports groups creating and maintaining national, regional, and local serials union lists. OCLC member libraries that are members of Union List Groups, and agents that coordinate each union list project can enter and display summarized serial holdings in the serial local data record. Libraries report finding bibliographic records for 80 to 90 percent of their serial titles in the Online Union Catalog. During 1986/87 the union list capability was used by 78 groups to control the contributions of 5,768 libraries.

OCLC member institutions can use the union listing capability whether or not they use the online Serials Control Sub-system to check in their serials publications. (The online serials control subsystem is to be discontinued at the end of 1988, and all future OCLC-based check-in will be performed on its microcomputer-based system, SC350.) Libraries that are OCLC members have online search access to their union list file, as well as online input capabilities.

Non-OCLC institutions use the union listing capability indirectly through contractual agreement with union list agents using the "agent" mode or by other member libraries in the union list group. Non-members do not have access to the online system for either lookup or data entry.

OCLC permits tape loading to establish an initial union list file, but there are no facilities for ongoing tape reporting to the system. The preparation of tapes for loading into the online union list is complex and expensive. All subsequent data entry and holdings changes are performed online for libraries that are not members of OCLC, and online or through the serials control system for member libraries. At present there are no plans to support offline data entry for non-member libraries through the SC350 system.

Two variable fields in the data record contain the primary elements for the union listing capability. They are the SCHD (summary Copy Holdings) and Sum (Summary Institution Holdings) fields. In addition, the heading, the fixed field elements "Hld lib" and "Copy," and the variable field LCNO (Local Call Number) are used in the union list displays. The ANSI standard for Serials Holdings Statements at the Summary Level Z39.42-1980 is used to interpret the format in which holdings are reported in the union listing fields.

Libraries that are members of union list groups and also use the serials control subsystem for check-in include the union list fields in their existing local data records; records created for libraries that use the union list component need contain only the system-supplied fields and the SCHD (Summary Copy Holdings) and the SIHD (Summary Institution Holdings) fields. One record is created for each copy reported to their list.

The online union list provides access to summary holdings statements of union list groups and their member institutions. There are two types of summary holdings statement displays: the Union List Group display, which shows summary holdings statements for each library within a union list group that holds a copy of a specific serial publication; and the Union List Institution display, which shows summary holdings statements for each copy of the serial within a specific institution in a union list group. In addition, help screens are available in the union list function that describe ANSI codes and other information used in the union list displays.

When the online serials control capability is discontinued at the end of 1988, union list activity will continue with online search and entry procedures similar to those now available. Libraries that choose to use the SC350 serials control system will automatically upload their holdings to the online system; no procedure has been established to support offline entry of records through SC350 for union list participants that are not members of OCLC. Member libraries will have to continue to enter these records online.

Three output products are available from the Serials Union Listing system: tape output of the bibliographic and holdings data, and fiche or paper union lists. An extremely wide variety of formatting options is offered.

OCLC pricing is controlled by the Regional Networks. The networks vary in the extent to which they levy add-on charges. The price information in this description was obtained from a Network generally thought to levy a low mark-up. There may be substantial differences in the prices quoted by different networks. A group with wide geographic dispersion or one including federal government libraries might shop among the networks to which its members belong in order to obtain the most favorable prices. There is a one-time union listing group set-up charge of $1,940 that includes profiling for up to 15 union list participants. Additional profiling for participants in excess of 15 is billed on an hourly basis, at $44.00 per hour. In second and subsequent years, an administrative charge of $400 per group per year is levied. Members are billed $.25 per local data record for each holding added to the system, and a charge of $.09 for each local data record update. There is a credit of $.09 for each LDR removed from the file. The file also attracts annual storage charges of $.044 per record; this charge is billed twice a year at $.022 per billing cycle. Using the parameters described at the beginning of the article, the total startup cost would be approximately $39,000 and the annual cost would be $7,342, exclusive of COM and C telecommunications costs. Print and fiche product pricing entails multiple cost element. Pricing sheets can be obtained from OCLC Regional Networks.

In addition, each library with access to the OCLC serial union listing facility would need to meet terminal and communications charges. The telecommunications charges levied by the network we contacted are $7.69 per hour for dial access plus an annual authorization fee of $220 plus a monthly system fee of $30 per month. For dedicated lines, the charge is $1,524 per terminal per year plus $2,148 per modem per year. A modem can support more than one terminal. Libraries which are already members of OCLC could use their existing equipment.

[Contact: . . . your local OCLC Regional Network.]

View Citation
Publication Year:1988
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Library Systems Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 8 Number 09
Issue:September 1988
Publisher:American Library Association
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Notes:Howard S. White, Editor-in-Chief; Richard W. Boss and Judy McQueen Contributing Editors
Company: CLSI
Advanced Computer Concepts
Data Research Associates, Inc.
Innovative Interfaces, Inc.
NOTIS Systems, Inc.
Products: Periodicals Holdings in Schools of Medicine (PHILSOM)
Bibliographic Access & Control System (BACS)
GLIS 9000
GLIS 8000
GLIS 6000
Libraries: Washington University -- School of Medicine
Subject: Serials control
Record Number:4471
Last Update:2024-05-07 14:50:11
Date Created:0000-00-00 00:00:00