StaffGuide: Electronic Serials

Electronic Serials

Capturing and Printing Online Materials for Library Collections


In an effort to preserve, maintain, and provide access to online-only resources, the Serials department will acquire and maintain an electronic resource file containing the digital files of these publications.  In addition, as requested by the selectors, the department will convert those electronic resources into a physical format (paper or CD-ROM or DVD) so that they can be processed and preserved like the other physical items in our collections.  The following provides the most current guidelines for processing electronic-only publications into physical resources.

The steps involved in this process include:

  1. Review resource
  2. Obtain Selector’s decision
  3. Record creation/maintenance
  4. Capture online publications and save to the Serials Electronic Resource File
  5. Convert online-only publications to a physical format
  6. Process items and paperwork
  7. Establish method to acquire future online-only issues

There are generally two occasions in which the department is alerted to the presence of online-only continuing resources:

  • Resources previously acquired in a physical format which are now only available to the library in electronic or digital form.
  • New resources being discovered by the selector, staff, or other

The most common scenario is the former, where we receive notification or discover in the course of claiming that the publication has switched formats.  When the publisher has made a decision to publish in a different format, it is considered a Title Change.  A format change can also be accompanied by a subscription change (from paid to free or vice-versa), a title change, frequency change, or other major transformation of the publication.  Publishers also frequently go through transitional periods in which some of their issues are online-only and other issues are still published in print.  Sometimes the distribution of print occurs only to individual subscribers, or is limited in some other way. 


Next, examine the online resource carefully.  You should ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can I acquire this resource in a consistent way?
    1. Are issues retained in an online archive?
    2. Are issues freely available online or is there a password?
    3. Are they distributed electronically via email from the publisher?
    4. Will I be able to access this content in the near future?
  2. Can I regularly convert this content into a physical item (Printed document or CD-ROM)?
    1. Are issues in PDF format?
    2. Does the publication update continuously?
    3. Has the publisher used a Pageturner or other flash media application for viewing?
    4. Does the issue now include multimedia content? (Music, spoken word, video?)
  3. Is this publication still recognizable as a single serial entity (journal, newsletter, report)?
    1. Are there identifiable issues available (volumes or dates)?
    2. Does updated content contain dates of revision?
    3. Is content arranged chronologically or by subject?
    4. Can you find the original 245 or 130 title on the website?
  4. What is the publisher’s decision on the present & future distribution and format of this publication?
    1. Open access & online-only from a specific point forward?
    2. Some online-only issues + some print issues?
    3. Distributed via email to individual members only?
    4. Online-only but password protected

You should be prepared to indicate any difficulties with the selector by exploring the online resource in-depth before you discuss conversion.  In some cases, it may be impossible to convert or in other cases, there might be a variety of ways to convert your online-only resource.


For most publications which you can convert to print, you want to provide a brief description of the resource containing the following elements:

  • Title & author
  • Link to bib record, if available
  • Link to the resource itself
  • Frequency
  • Online holdings or availability
  • Approximate number of pages per issue
  • If the issues contain color
  • Any special restrictions or instructions on access (passwords, search box, or unusual content delivery method).

Next, based on your observations about the resource, ask the selector the following questions:

  1. Add title and open-access URL?
  2. Print issues for Arkco? [Specify location]
    1. Black & white or Color?
    2. Archival quality paper or regular paper?
    3. Print cover in color only?  [Usually offered on larger single issues like annual reports]
  3. Burn to a CD-ROM? [for some titles too large to print or continuously updated titles]
  4. Catalog for internet only
  5. Other?

For printing, a cost estimate can be provided upon request.  If the document is generally larger than usual, providing one at the outset may be helpful, especially if the issues are in color.  For an easy way to gauge potential costs, see the automatic cost generator within the “Print Jobs” file appropriate for that fiscal year.

If you do not see a way to convert a resource to a physical format, note that with the subject specialist and request that the title be reviewed further for the feasibility of conversion. 



**All PDF files are captured and saved to the Serials Department Electronic Resource Drive (Electronic Resources (\\wright))**

The folders should contain complete issues only.  Avoid saving incomplete documents or parts of documents as individual files.  Below are the resources we currently are able to acquire:

  1. PDF’s
  2. Office Documents (e.g. Word, Excel, Access, Publisher).
  3. HTML pages

We generally do not save the following in the electronic resource file

  1. Multimedia files (Flash, mp4s)
  2. Music (mp3s, wav.)
  3. Pictures (JPEG, TIFF, etc.)
  4. Email
  5. Unknown file types
  6. Obsolete file types

NOTE: Please consult with Systems staff to determine the most appropriate way to handle files of the above nature should you have to acquire this content.

  1. Create a folder for the title in the Serials Electronic Resource File.  Folders in the directory are arranged in alphabetical order by title.  Each title is recorded directly from the 245 MARC field or 130 MARC field of the corresponding bibliographic record. 
  2. Download all available issues, even if they are duplicates of print issues in the catalog. 
  3. Request permission from the publisher to print or make available the publisher’s resource to the library (through printing or burning to a CD-ROM).  Record this note in the check-in record and request Cataloging note this in the bibliographic record (947 local note MARC field).



  • Go to the “Print Jobs” file for the current fiscal year in the Serials Drive.
  • Add to the In-House Print Jobs tab the issues to be printed.  Be sure to use one line per issue and fill out all the required fields.

The staff member in charge of printing will periodically check this list for printing jobs.  If you are responsible for printing, please see procedures for Print Job Maintenance. 

Issues will be printed, in-house bound, and then checked in as a normal publication.


Burning to CD-ROM

Some electronic-only publications will not be suitable for printing out.  Continuously updated content is rarely suitable for printing, and some selectors may choose to burn to a CD-ROM successive issues with large page numbers.