Good morning. I’m Natasha Aburrow-Jones, the SUNCAT Bibliographic Project Officer. I’d like to cover two main areas in my talk to you today: the collaborative nature of SUNCAT, and how that works, and our new functionality to help you manage your serials collections, the Holdings Comparison service.
For those of you who haven’t heard of it, SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. (I should say at this point that SUNCAT is a service offered by EDINA and funded by Jisc.) We are a physical union catalogue, so we take bibliographic records and their associated holdings from all of our Contributing Libraries, normalise the data, and put it all into a single database. We started as a project in 2003, and launched as a service in 2005. We have the data from over 100 Contributing Libraries, as well as the data from CONSER (the Cooperative Online Serials Program offered by the Library of Congress (CONSER is an authoritative source for bibliographic records, documentation, and training materials for serials cataloguing)), the ISSN Register (a database of bibliographic records of all the ISSNs, offered by the ISSN Centre in Paris) and the Directory of Open Access Journals. Our Contributing Libraries range in size from having collections of hundreds of thousands of records to a few dozen. They range from the National Libraries (e.g., the British Library, the National Library of Scotland) through University libraries (such as the collections held in Oxford, Cambridge, etc.), to some very specialist libraries (e.g., the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, the Scottish Poetry Library, the NERC libraries (Natural Environment Research Council) etc.. The SUNCAT Contributing Libraries have a wide geographic range – from Inverness in the north of Scotland, to Cornwall in the South West of England, and even a couple of libraries in Antarctica and South Georgia!
SUNCAT is a collaborative effort; we would be nothing without the continued good will of our contributing libraries, who share our vision of a national union catalogue of serials. In return for sending us data, Contributing Libraries can benefit in a variety of ways:Inter-library loan librarians can use SUNCAT to locate serials held in the UK Cataloguers can consult MARC records on SUNCAT, including CONSER records and Contributing Libraries can download records from SUNCAT Serials librarians can use SUNCAT to check on the details of serials held in the UK Collection managers can use the holdings comparison service to determine information about their serials collection, including the number of unique serials held in their library and any overlap with other contributing libraries which may be of interest on a geographic or subject level basis and to libraries participating in the UKRR aiming to store and preserve low use research serials. Reference/Enquiry staff can use SUNCAT to help their users locate particular serials and find out about the existence of serials in a particular subject area
As a result of sending us data, SUNCAT is the key online tool for researchers to locate serials throughout the UK, providing librarians with a central source of high-quality bibliographic records for upgrading local catalogues and raising consciousness of the importance of quality serials information among UK researchers and librarians. And we have lots of metadata!
I’ve mentioned that SUNCAT receives data from our Contributing Libraries – and we receive this in whatever format and according to whatever standard they have been catalogued. We ask – as a minimum – that serials records and their associated holdings are sent to us in a (relatively) consistent format, which have a unique, persistent identifier in the form of the Local Control Number, a title, and a holdings statement. This will be enough to create a record suitable for loading into SUNCAT. Any other information will help to improve a potential match, and enrich records. Data comes to us in all sorts of formats, both content and carrier. You know how metadata can be in your library’s LMS? There’s original records, downloaded records, copy catalogued records, vendor records, legacy records – all catalogued to different standards, local, national and international. Well, we’ve got those in SUNCAT – multiplied by the number of Contributing Libraries!
SUNCAT is a hybrid catalogue; with the data that we have, we can be nothing else. This is not a bad thing, but it does mean that we will have titles catalogued according to different rules. Something to be aware of!
So, in order to make all this data suitable for loading into SUNCAT, we need to normalise all the data. This is done by inspecting the first files as they come to us, and writing a data specification for the normalisation process. We use MARC21, so a cross-walk will be created if data does not come to us in this format. If one library sends us data in a combination of formats (e.g. print titles exported from the LMS in MARC21, electronic journals from the discovery layer in a spreadsheet), then there may be more than one data specification. Once the normalisation process have been run, the data is ready to load into SUNCAT.
SUNCAT matches individual records into a set for all records with the same title. The best bibliographic record is shown as the first point of display, but all the records in the set are available for viewing (there may be different notes, subject headings, etc. which might be more relevant for you). Some of the data that we receive might not match in to existing sets – there is simply not enough data to make a match. We would rather have a non-match than a mismatch (where the wrong title is added to the wrong set), so that information is still findable.
The matching process is completely automated. It’s good, but it could be better. This is why we’re looking into replacing the existing algorithm with something that is more tailored to our specific data. This is in early stages at the moment, but it is exciting to help work out what would make items match together better than is done at the moment.
First off, SUNCAT is obviously a locate facility – to let you know what library holds what. The holdings are as detailed as the data that is sent to us (no standardisation!). We do try to make them as fulsome as possible, including “items missing” information, and so forth, where it has been supplied. If a title is indexed in JournalTOCs and Zetoc, then you will be able to drill down to article level information, and may be able to access those articles.
As SUNCAT contains not only records from the Contributing Libraries, but also the ISSN Register, the CONSER database and the Directory of Open Access Journals, there is a broad collection of titles, as well as high quality bibliographic records. These can be downloaded using z39.50 – for the Contributing Libraries, they can download records in MARC Communications Format. The freely available z39.50 download facility allows download in MARCXML and SUTRS. This enables libraries up upgrade existing records on their local catalogues, or add records for new subscriptions. For example, one of our libraries used this service to update all their journal records with subject headings, thus improving their local journal discovery, while another has used it to update their records to RDA.
There is also a personalisation function in SUNCAT, called My SUNCAT. This allows users to create their own preferred library and locations limits across search sessions, along with some other personalisation functions across sessions. This could allow you, for example, to create a mini-union catalogue of your own, dependent on what libraries or areas you would like to cover.
And, finally, we have our Holdings Comparison service, about which I’ll go into more detail.
The Holdings Comparison service can assist librarians with supporting collection management decisions. With the aggregated serials data of over 100 libraries, SUNCAT is a source of rich, valuable data which can be used to provide an overview of journal holdings across the UK.
This data can be used to discover if you have any titles which are rare or unique in the UK. You may want to make sure you hold onto these titles, or move them to secure storage. If you do need to dispose of them, e,g, due to a library move, rationalisation of stock, etc., you may want to ensure that they are rehomed, and not lost to UK scholarship. You can use the Holdings Comparison service if you are thinking of disposing of a print run, or cancelling a current subscription, and you want to check that users will still have access to the titles either in a local institution or through ILL. If you want to compare your holdings for a range of journals with other similar institutions, or in your geographic or subject area (or all three!), then the Holdings Comparison service is for you.
So, a bit of background to the Holdings Comparison service. This is essentially a process that enables librarians to upload a batch of journal titles to SUNCAT for comparison purposes. It is loosely based on the service that we currently provide to the UK Research Reserve, where we assist with the scarcity checking of titles submitted by their members. This automated scarcity checking has saved UKRR members time, compared with undergoing their own manual checking, which could take up to 40 minutes per title. We wanted to take some of the advantages from this service to the UKRR, and make them more widely available to the UK research and library community via the new Holdings Comparison service. (There are differences with the service for the UKRR, so, if you use both, you will end up with different results. Please come and find me after this, or contact me if you want to discuss these further.)
The service has a simple interface and instructions to guide you through the process. It must be simple, as even I can use it successfully! You need to submit a file of ISSNs, and you can choose whether to run your comparison against all the SUNCAT libraries, or a selection of your choice. Once your file has been processed, you will be notified by email. You can then go back into the interface, where you will be provided with several output options including a list view of submitted ISSNs and the libraries holding those items, a more graphical table view (good for overviews of the data), and you can download the data in csv file, giving detailed holdings from each library.
I’ll now take you through the Holdings Comparison service in a bit more detail.
To start, create a list of ISSNs for the title that you would like checked, saved as a csv file. You can put in as much information as you want, as long as it has a distinct column for the ISSNs. I’ve done this only with ISSNs, but I find it useful to know the title, too, which will help with my analysis after the data has been run through the Holdings Comparison service. Each ISSN should appear on a separate row. If you want to include more than one ISSN for a title, enter them on separate rows, as can be seen here. Do not include any further information in the same sell as the ISSN.
Once this is prepared, then log into My SUNCAT. The Holdings Comparison service is available through the advanced search screen only, and can be seen on the menu on the left hand side.
So, now you need to submit your file. This slide shows what you need to include. We’ll see what this looks like on the next slide.
So, this is the form you’ll need to fill in to submit your csv file. As you can see, it’s relatively simple – give your job a title, and an email address so that you can be notified when it is completed, and upload the file, noting which column contains the ISSNs. I selected to include all the SUNCAT libraries, but you can limit it to specific libraries, or the UKRR libraries that are currently SUNCAT Contributing Libraries. You can also include (or exclude) electronic journals holdings – I’ve chosen to include them.
Once you click on the “Submit form” button, you’ll be taken to a validation screen, which will ask you to confirm your submission. If there are any mistakes in the uploaded file, this is the time to correct them.
This email notification includes the job number. Click on this to be taken to your data! It opens in a new window, which is rather convenient.
Once you’ve clicked on the link, you’ll be directed to a page summarising information about your job. For example, you can see what libraries you have chosen to include, and what format. There are also options to see a list or a table view of the results.
This is the list view of results. This displays the title (and variants, as might be in other records in the set), associated with each ISSN submitted. There is also the number of holdings libraries, followed by a list of these libraries with the number of print and / or electronic holdings that they have. The type of holding is distinguished by an icon (explained towards the top right hand side of the screen). Hovering over this icon will allow you to see more detailed information about the holding, normally at volume / issue level (dependent on what has been sent to SUNCAT).
You can also choose to filter your results by the number of holding libraries – this is in the drop down list towards the top of the screen. You can choose to limit by xx or more libraries, or xx or less libraries. This allows you to focus in on rarer titles, or you can choose to see what is commonly held (e.g., by seeing what is held by 10 or more libraries).
The ISSN is highlighted; this means that you can search on this, to get to the full bibliographic record in the standard SUNCAT format (opening in a new tab), and see the full holdings display.
The graph view provides a more visual overview of the level of holdings for each ISSN submitted. It clearly distinguishes between the number of print and electronic holdings, as well as the overall number of holding libraries. The colours are distinctive, making separation between formats easy.
So, once you’ve had a look at the data, you might want to save it, so that you can conduct a more detailed analysis off-line, at your leisure. With this in mind, you can download two csv files, as indicated on the right hand side of the screen.
If you added any filters, you can export the list view; if not, you can download the whole job. At the moment, the csv file is always called “result.csv”, but you can always rename it after you’ve downloaded it.
So, this is what the downloaded csv file looks like. It’s a bit daunting at first, but it is quite clear looking at the rows across the top. Each separate holding is surrounded by angular brackets and the word “holding”, so you know that there may be more than one holding for each library. The csv file supplies the ISSN, and any other additional information supplied, along with the number of holding libraries. There are detailed holdings at volume and issue level, differentiated into electronic and print holdings on separate rows. This is a much more detailed and complex output, but could be useful if you want to compare holdings at a more in-depth level.
There it is – a quick dash through the metadata that SUNCAT receives, and how we (hope!) we can help with issues around serials and collection management. I hope that you have found this useful, and are itching not only to get to lunch, but to get stuck into looking at some holdings comparisons of your own.
Do you have any questions?
If you have any thoughts, queries, or questions that haven’t already answered, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me. I’ll be around all day, so feel free to grab me at lunch!
SCURL and SUNCAT serials holdings comparison service
SCURL Metadata and Collaborative
Collection Management event
SCURL and SUNCAT: Serials Holdings
Natasha Aburrow-Jones (SUNCAT Project Officer)
Introduction to SUNCAT
• SUNCAT: the Serials Union Catalogue
for the UK
• Project started in 2003; service
launched in 2005 – and still going
• 100+ Contributing Libraries – National,
SUNCAT & collaboration
• SUNCAT is a collaborative effort
between EDINA and the Contributing
• SUNCAT would be nothing without the
Contributing Libraries – our most
valued resource (they send us data!)
Contributing data to SUNCAT
• We receive data in all sorts of formats
• We receive data catalogued to all sorts
of standards (often within one file!)
• We haz all the acronyms:
– Content: AACR2, RDA, DCRM(S) and (B)
– Carrier: MARC21, MARCXML, csv, Word
documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc.
• We have to normalise all this incoming
data, so that it can be loaded into
SUNCAT – and matched!
• Each library has its own data
specification, based on data supplied
• Matching algorithm ensures that all
records for the same title are collated
into one set.
• There are exceptions – usually data
• New algorithm being developed in-
house; hope to improve on current
How SUNCAT can help: tools
• Union catalogue search functionality
– location service for journals and their
• Repository of high quality bibliographic
• Z39.50 downloading functionality
• My SUNCAT
• Holdings Comparison service
• Supports collection management
– Aggregated data provides overview of
serial holdings across the UK
– Identify rare / unique titles for long term
preservation & continuing access
– Identify possible items for rationalisation
• Who else holds titles locally
• How do holdings compare with similar
• Compare holdings for many titles
• Can compare against all SUNCAT
Contributing Libraries, or your preferred
• Several output options available – detailed,
or overview, and export results
• Can filter and order results as appropriate
Holdings Comparison: how it works
• Create a data set
Holdings Comparison: how it works
• Log in to My SUNCAT
Holdings Comparison: how it works
• Submitting a file:
– Provide information (no. rows, ISSN
column, characters used to separate
– Select libraries (if appropriate)
– Select other limits (if appropriate)
– Click on “Submit Form”
Holdings Comparison: how it works
• Possible to download csv files of:
– Entire job
– Filtered list view
Holdings Comparison: how it works
• csv download result
• SUNCAT consists of collaborative
• SUNCAT can help libraries make the
most of that metadata in real-life
• SUNCAT can help with collection
management issues for serials