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portal: Libraries and the Academy 2.2 (2002) 348-349

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Book Review

Managing Electronic Serials:
Essays Based Upon the ALCTS Electronic Serials Institutes, 1997-1999

Managing Electronic Serials: Essays Based Upon the ALCTS Electronic Serials Institutes, 1997-1999,ed. Pamela M. Bluh. Chicago: American Library Association, 2001. 190 p. $38 (ISBN 0-8389-3510-9)

This collection of eleven papers dealing with the management of electronic serials should stand as a ready reference source for serials librarians for the foreseeable future. Editor Pamela Bluh, Associate Director for Technical Services and Administration at the Law Library of the University of Maryland, is an active member of several divisions of the American Library Association and served as the chair of the ALCTS Serials Section. Admitting candidly that this collection will not solve all the puzzles electronic serials present to information specialists, Bluh notes, however, that common themes throughout the essays, such as the complexity and capriciousness of serials themselves carrying over into the electronic environment, the primacy of business rather than technological issues in electronic publishing, and the need to be proactive in managerial styles, all serve to lay a foundation upon which these new resources can be incorporated into libraries' services. [End Page 348]

The reader first encounters an excellent summary on "seriality" written by Regina Reynolds (National Serials Database Program) in which the author explores how electronic serials are slowly expanding within the publishing universe and, in some cases, replacing their paper predecessors. She continues by explaining the ways in which a new perspective on serials management is necessary, and, in doing so, clears up some of the mysteries associated with the electronic serial. Reynolds' piece can serve as a primer for the new serials librarian as it focuses clearly upon those aspects of managerial change needed for a dynamic collection.

A second grouping of articles in this collection struggles with the business and economic aspects of serials management. In one contribution, Sharon Cline McKay (SilverPlatter) admonishes information professionals to accept the fact that while electronic publishing has many positive attributes, it is not always less expensive and certainly requires a different managerial style. She demonstrates clearly that the myth that "electronic is cheaper" is false and that a partnership approach to serials will be needed among all players—publishers, agents and librarians—if issues that face serials publishing are to be addressed successfully.

Too often management methodologies are based on misconceptions regarding the electronic serial. In an effort to dispel some of the more blatant ones, Dan Tonkery (EBSCO) dissects seven of the most prevalent myths concerning electronic serials, such as the notion that publishers are converting paper copy to electronic offerings to save on operating costs.

Zeroing in directly on the major potential pitfalls prevalent in entering license agreements for electronic resources, Fay Chadwell (University of Oregon) explores a framework for licensing that denotes the specific elements with an eye toward clarity and self-protection. This well-written contribution will be useful to all administrators who are responsible for legal aspects of electronic serials management.

Of course, acquiring resources is of little use if access routes to them are not properly developed. Norma Fair (University of Missouri, Columbia) and Steve Shadle (University of Washington), with an introduction by Bev Geer (Questia Media, Inc.), address the issues of cataloging electronic serials. They provide specific details about how best to approach this endeavor and also supplement their contribution with useful appendices.

In the final essay, Tom Leonhardt (Oregon Institute of Technology) reflects on the future of electronic serials. He expresses confidence that initial mistakes made in the early '90s regarding aspects of electronic serials librarianship, most notably in their acquisition, are not apt to be repeated today and that by uniting, perhaps under the umbrella of consortial arrangements, librarians will be able to deal effectively with this relatively new method of publishing.

Taken as a whole and with the assistance of a good index, this book can serve either as a useful introductory reader in electronic serials management or as a specific aid...


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