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On February 13, I arose ere the dawn to attend the ASERL Journal Retention Steering Committee meeting on the Georgia Tech campus. I don’t normally drink coffee, but I downed two cups once I arrived. (OK, really two cups of coffee-flavored sugared cream.) The opening session reviewed the project ( ) and introduced the WRLC (Washington [i.e., DC] Research Library Consortium) print retention project. Each library representative mentioned what they’re retaining for the group. For WFU, that’s mostly the Wiley-Blackwell journals. Most other libraries are following a subject-based approach or are archiving JSTOR. You can find our commitments by searching for ‘ASERL’ in VuFind.

Cheryle Cole-Bennett covered “How to Document this Retention Agreement within the MARC 583 field.” ZSR currently uses a prescribed basic 583a statement that “This title is in the ASERL Print Journal Archive.” In VuFind and Classic, this note appears only in the staff view (good, since only staff care). However, this data does not feed into the master OCLC record, where an audience of librarians across the country may care to read this data. Also, the minimal data in the 583 does not specify which years of the journal are committed for retention, how long ZSR has committed to retain it, or the conditions of retention (e.g. in a closed-stack facility). For instance, in the case of Psychological Reports, ZSR has newer volumes that aren’t part of the commitment yet. OCLC and ASERL have developed some complicated recommendations for expanding the data in the 583 field, as well as a recommendation to include holdings-level data in OCLC for these titles. (At this point, the presentation got technical, and I hope the catalogers can make sense of the PPT slides.) Questions from the audience included: Can you enhance the 583 by batch? How can you communicate that a title is part of two or more retention plans (e.g. ASERL & TRLN)? Can you have multiple 583 fields or repeated subfields within 583? Apparently, the enhanced 583 does not completely erase the problems when only part of the run is officially retained. ASERL has not yet officially decided what members of the group should do with their 583s, so no action is required yet.

Next, we discussed adding subject categories to the retained journals. Apparently the Deans want this (that so, Lynn?). The group agreed to use Ulrich’s to assign subjects, with subscribers pitching in to provide the headings for the non-Ulrich’s-subscribers (like WFU). I noted that they didn’t specifically assign a library to cover our titles, which might lead to a ‘diffusion of responsibility’ effect. Maybe the deans that care about this the most will step forward with the labor to cover this effort.

Next, Winston Harris from UF demonstrated the Journal Retention and Needs Listing (JRNL) tool that they developed for the group. It answers two questions:

  1. What’s in ASERL?
  2. If I’m weeding, can I fill in a gap for someone else who’s retaining this title?

During lunch, the branding subcommittee (that’s me and Steve Knowlton from U. Memphis) took feedback from the group on potential guidelines for a catchy name. (What?!? “ASERL Cooperative Journal Retention” isn’t snappy enough for you??) I took down some notes, but I don’t want to reveal too much too soon….

Amy Wood from CRL demonstrated the PAPR (Print Archives Preservation Registry) system, which tries to track nationally where journals are being retained. One use case: Say you’re weeding, but you want to make sure someone’s retaining the title. Maybe you’re not comfortable unless several institutions are retaining the title. WorldCat can give you a raw holdings count, but not who’s committed to permanent retention. PAPR fills that need.

Finally, we discussed targeted retention. First, they discussed agriculture titles (Zzzz). Next, they discussed retention of certain big sets. I hoped to turn the discussion to humongous physics runs, but the group was more intent on retaining paper indexes that WFU has long since weeded (like Chem Abstracts and NUC). Most surprising to me was the claim that the pre-1956 NUC is a high-use item. Ah, the world of an ARL….

The meeting ended early, so I took MARTA to the airport, where I played out a round of “Grande Tea vs. Dramamine.” I think the tea won, since I stayed awake all the way home.