|NOVEMBER 2001||Volume 3 Number 4|
Janis Lefkowitz, Project Coordinator
Two librarians were recently overheard eulogizing the Connecticut Union List of Serials. "It was so easy to use," said one librarian. "Oh well, I guess with all the computers in libraries, someone thought we didn't need it anymore," replied the other. Actually, the Connecticut Union List of Serials (CULS) is alive and well and growing everyday! It is now part of the on-line ReQuest database which can be accessed through the Internet.
The 2001 edition of the Connecticut Union List of Serials reports over 180,000 holdings for over 67,000 titles for the 438 member libraries. The composition of member libraries includes public, academic, special and school libraries of varying size. Every year, new libraries are profiled so that their holdings can be reported. In the early 1990s, CULS holdings were merged into ReQuest, the statewide database. In 1996, the Connecticut Newspaper Project added their holdings to CULS. These two events helped enrich what was already a popular finding tool. Accessed electronically, it world. Titles reported include periodicals, newspapers, annuals, journals, proceedings, transactions and monographic series.
The Connecticut Union List of Serials project began in 1970. The project was funded by a grant from the Library Services and Construction Act and was under the supervision of the Connecticut State Library. At that time, the library world was functioning in the era before full text databases and electronic serials. It's purpose, then and now, is to facilitate interlibrary loan, resource sharing and collection development. Borrowing a definition from Dianne Ellsworth's Union Lists: Issues and Answers "... a union list can be defined as a systematic accumulation of information describing specified collections held by a defined group. Its purpose is to make collections more accessible where interlibrary loan cooperation exists. Thus, a union periodical list is an organized file of periodical titles representing the periodical collections in a group of cooperating libraries for the purpose of facilitating interlibrary loan and/or providing a shared bibliographic resource."
The early editions of the union list were compilations of titles and holdings from library-submitted lists and on-site copying of records. Each title was assigned a seven-digit sequence number that was carefully transcribed onto forms. These forms were hand carried across Capitol Avenue to the State Data Center for keypunching which led to the production of computer printouts. The first lists produced were two editions of the Union List. A Research Edition reported the most commonly held titles of seventy-one government, private and university libraries. A Popular Edition reported select titles from one hundred twenty six public and academic libraries.
In 1987, with the progression of automation in the library community, this cumbersome method was eliminated. With the assistance of a conversion vendor, the first database for CULS was created. Representatives from libraries were trained on inputting and updating their collections. The State Library took on a supervisory role for those libraries with OCLC and continued the task of updating for the non-OCLC libraries.
As Project Coordinator for CULS, I have seen first hand the important place the Union List has in the library community. The Project Coordinator acts as liaison for all member libraries putting forth the guidelines established by OCLC and serves as sounding board for librarians to discuss questions and concerns about CULS. It is the responsibility of the Project Coordinator to provide the library community with accurate, up to date information. Some of the questions being raised today involve electronic serials. How can we union list electronic serials? Should we union list them? How should they be reported?
You can find CULS online.
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