Serials processing activities in Southern Nigerian University libraries.

Author:Edoka, Benson E.


The users of serials in university libraries want quick access to the current information contained in serials volumes and issues. Library serials acquisitions processes are organized with that information need in mind. According to Tuttle (1983), whether serials processing is centralized, decentralized, or integrated with other operations, serials requires processing. Adhikari (2000) observes that serials processing begins with acquisition, which includes ordering, checking-in, claiming, payment, and fund accounting. White (1983) emphasizes the importance of serials cataloguing as a step in processing. Szilvassy (1996) lists the steps in bibliographic control for serials:

* Cataloguing and classification

* Filing

* Catalogue maintenance

Adhikari (2000:95) discusses check-in, which is, "making a record that a particular periodical issue has been received." It provides inventory for currently received periodicals, and identifies missing or late issues for claiming and tracking payment records. Osborn (1980) indicates that checking in maintains the integrity of the serials file, and helps the library quickly determine completeness of holdings. Also, the pressure of reference demands requires staff to be able to answer questions about receipt and holdings.

Though serials processing is important, it is bedeviled with problems. One major problem, noted by Brown and Smith (1980), Colin (1998), EBSCO (2001), and Elliot (2003), is the huge financial commitment associated with acquisition and processing. Tise (2001) notes that problems with processing are compounded by the loss of key library staff knowledgeable in serials processing as a result of budget cuts. Szilvassy (1996) mentions the problem of absent or incomplete processing tools. According to him, a majority of the serials produced in less developed countries have incomplete bibliographic information and this makes processing cumbersome. Mullis (1992) expresses the problem of labour intensiveness during check-in and the difficulty in cataloguing. He also notes the absence of standards in classification of serials. Many libraries may not have the required tools for cataloguing and classification.

Statement of the Problem

Among the major operations for making print serials available and accessible is processing. Though every university library in Nigeria gives access to this important research material, no research has been conducted to determine the activities in processing and impediments to effective operation. In an effort to bridge this gap (in spite of the move to providing electronic access), create standards, and enhance uniformity, the survey sought to identify the serials processing activities and impediments to effective processing..


The study sought to

* Identify serials processing activities in Southern Nigerian Federal University Libraries;

* Determine the differences in serials processing activities among the university libraries in the three geopolitical zones;

* Ascertain the impediments to effective serials processing activities

Research Questions

  1. What are the activities involved in serials...

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