Periodicals, Abstracts and Indexes, and Newspapers

A. Description of the Collections

The Periodicals Collection is distributed in several locations throughout the library. Permanently retained titles are found in bound volume collections, in a classified microfilm collection, and, to a limited degree, in a microfiche and microcard collection administered through the Reserve Desk. Current Periodicals are housed for the most part in a subject-arranged collection with forty-four divisions. A limited number of high-use titles are located at the Reader Service Periodicals Desk. Titles focused on particular subject areas are shelved in the Art & Music Collection, Browsing Collection, Career Collection, Documents & Maps Collection, Reference Collection, Special Collections, and Youth Collection as appropriate.

General and many discipline-specific abstracts and indexes are housed in the Reader Service Department. Titles focused on particular subject areas are shelved in the Art & Music Collection, Documents & Maps Collection, Reference Collection, and Special Collections as appropriate. Electronic versions of selected titles available in print format as well as electronic-only titles are available through databases and aggregators licensed by the Library; these are available through the Electronic Resources menu on the Library’s Web page. Additional federal government publications on CD-ROM are available in the Documents & Maps Collection.

Current issues of local, regional, national, and international newspapers are kept in the Newspaper Room and at the Periodicals Desk. Back files of selected titles are maintained on microfilm. Back files of the official university student newspaper also are available in bound periodicals and Special Collections.

Titles categorized as periodicals are, for the most part, defined by their frequency of publication. In general, titles issued more frequently than annually are treated as periodicals. Certain abstract and index titles are issued less frequently. Some exceptions are made on the basis of content or prior frequency of publication; i.e, an annual publication for which the library has an extensive backset which changes to quarterly frequency will be retained in the Stacks collection.

B. Periodicals Oversight Committee

The Periodicals Oversight Committee administers the development and evaluation of the library's collection of periodicals, abstracts, indexes, and newspapers. The Committee includes the Head of Collection Management (chair) and a representative from Access Services’ MultiServices Desk, both serving ex officio, and two members of the Bibliographers' Council, serving staggered two-year terms. The committee's charge is to:

  1. develop policy recommendations related to periodicals commitments. Includes selection, retention, location, deselection, and cancellation recommendations and guidelines for all formats and forms of access;
  2. establish the framework for selection, retention, location, deselection, and cancellation decisions and actions;
  3. coordinate periodicals use studies and periodicals evaluation projects;
  4. coordinate selection of general and multi-disciplinary periodicals and newspapers with input from other members of the library faculty and the larger university community;
  5. arbitrate differences of opinion between/among bibliographers or between a bibliographer and other members of the library faculty or larger university community;
  6. coordinate special selection and deselection projects, including those associated with budget cuts or increases, one-time allocations, and grant money;
  7. cooperate with other library groups and committees on matters related to preservation and periodicals; and h. assist with interinstitutional efforts to establish long-term local commitments to particular periodical titles.

C. Selection and Evaluation Responsibility

Periodical titles are identified, evaluated, and selected by the appropriate subject bibliographer(s) or unit librarians. Only subscriptions for memberships, individual titles costing over $1,000.00, and titles in electronic-only format presently must be approved by the Periodicals Oversight Committee. The bibliographers/unit librarians also submit recommendations on retention or deselection to the Periodicals Oversight Committee.

Materials describing or reviewing new periodical, abstract, index, and newspaper titles and all recommendations from the university community are routed to the appropriate bibliographer(s) or Special Services librarian for consideration. A team approach is employed for general and multidisciplinary periodicals in the broad subject areas of business, education, humanities and fine arts, science and technology, and social and behavioral science. General interest and popular reading titles are administered by the Periodicals Oversight Committee. Abstracts and indexes are selected by the Reference & Instructional Services Department and the subject bibliographers. The newspaper collection is administered by the Periodicals Oversight Committee.

Policies governing abstracts and indexes, newspapers, vertical file newsletters, and titles in CD-ROM format are detailed elsewhere in the Collection Management Policy.

New Subscriptions

1. Selection Criteria

The selection and evaluation of subscriptions are governed by the same criteria applied to other library materials, including quality of the title, scope and content, depth and breadth of the current collection, anticipated audience, language, and country of origin. In the case of periodicals, bibliographic accessibility, with priority given to titles included in primary and secondary indexes available in the collection, interlibrary loan activity, and relative cost are important. Faculty recommendations are given special consideration. New subscriptions presently are being added only on a very selective basis because of limited funds and the scope of present library subscription commitments.

2. Location of Current Periodical Issues

Each title received on subscription is assigned to one of the subject areas to which materials funds are allocated. The Acquisitions Department, in consultation with the appropriate area bibliographer(s), determines a shelf location for current issues. Titles may be assigned to the Periodicals Desk only with the approval of the Periodicals Oversight Committee.. Assignments to funds and to particular locations may not mirror departmental responsibilities for particular curricula.

3. Subscription Sources

Titles are received on individual subscriptions through publishers, distributors, and periodical vendors. They may also come as part of an association or society membership. In some instances, not all publications received on a membership are added to the collection. The library accepts gift subscriptions and subscriptions made possible by external funding according to criteria outlined in the policy statement on materials gifts.


Most periodical subscriptions are retained in print or microform, if not both, as use, format, and mutilation make advisable. However, only recent issues of selected subscriptions obtained for current interest or recreational reading are retained, generally for one year. Abstracts and indexes are generally retained in cumulated print format and, in some instances, on CD-ROM. Newsletters and other titles in newspaper format are retained for either one or three years, as the bibliographer determines to be appropriate. Free and unsolicited publications of associations may be made available under a policy of accepting what is received, with no effort made to maintain complete files and no issues bound for retention. Arrangements may be made to transfer issues of titles which are not retained by the library to other university departments or offices, or to other state agencies.

When a subscription is canceled or a title ceases publication, the continuing value of local holdings is evaluated by the appropriate bibliographer(s). All periodical backruns of ceased or canceled titles which number five or fewer volumes also are reviewed at regular intervals by the appropriate bibliographer(s). Retention decisions are made in accordance with general guidelines developed by the Periodicals Oversight Committee. Relation to university programs, continued viability of information, historical significance of the title, monetary value, and availability elsewhere in the state are considered. Backsets of selected active periodical and index or abstract titles may be limited to a set number of volumes as projected use makes advisable.

Subscription Review and Cancellation

Renewal invoices are reviewed to identify titles which have experienced significant price increases from one subscription year to the next. Comparable information supplied by vendors for three-year periods also is analyzed to identify titles for which continued subscriptions might not be justified.

D. Miscellaneous Subscription Matters

1. Duplicate Subscriptions

The library maintains duplicate subscriptions to periodical, index and abstract, and newspaper titles only in limited instances: (1) when use of current issues is great enough to justify a duplicate or security copy, or when use patterns justify availability in two locations; (2) when a print copy is desirable for current use, and the backset is retained in microform because of anticipated or present heavy use, mutilation, or format; and (3) when a print copy is desirable for both current and future use because of color illustrations, graphics, or tabular matter, and a microfilm copy is retained as a back-up; and (4) when use and need for broader access justify duplicate subscriptions to indexes and abstracts in print and electronic formats.

2. Previously Free Titles

Previously free or gift titles which are no longer available without charge are not acquired automatically on a cost basis. Each title is referred to the appropriate bibliographer for a continuation decision. Titles which cost more than $25.00 must be approved by the Head of Collection Management, or Periodicals Oversight Committee in the case of general periodicals, abstracts, indexes, and newspapers.

3. Reviving Subscriptions

Subscriptions to titles which have ceased publication and are subsequently revived are considered as though they were new titles unless the library has paid for particular volumes in advance. In that instance, the Head of Collection Management is notified so that a continuation decision may be made by the appropriate bibliographer(s) once new issues are received. Titles for which a subscription is suspended are reviewed at the time of renewal. The Order/Payment Section of the Acquisitions Department notifies the Periodicals Oversight Committee when an invoice is received. These titles are reviewed by the appropriate bibliographer and considered for cancellation.

4. Subscriptions to Periodical Titles which Divide

In most instances, subscriptions to periodical titles which have divided are maintained unless the focus no longer meets established criteria. All such titles are reviewed by the appropriate bibliographer(s) and approved by the Head of Collection Management.

5. Changes in Subscription Format

Titles which experience changes in form, from a journal to a newsletter for example, are referred to the appropriate bibliographer by the Acquisitions Department to determine whether the retention policy should be modified or the subscription discontinued. Changes in physical quality, size, or frequency of publication which may pose binding problems are referred to the Head of Collection Management who consults with the appropriate bibliographer or the Periodicals Oversight Committee to determine whether a change should be made in the form of the backset or the subscription should be canceled.

E. Periodical Backsets

When a subscription is initiated with volumes no. 2-4, the library's holdings ordinarily are begun with volume 1, no. 1, if at all possible. When a subscription is initiated with volume 5 or after, backset decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, with consideration given to faculty recommendations, projected use, and ongoing value of historical volumes.

The choice of format for a backset is tied to the form in which the current subscription is retained and, in some instances, the length of the backset to be acquired, should a choice of formats be available. The format of the backset should match that of the retention copy of the ongoing subscription in most instances. Exceptions are made on the recommendation of the appropriate bibliographer(s).

Exceptions also may be made for the replacement of missing or mutilated issues when the number to be replaced, likely repetition of the problem, or unavailability of print format makes it advisable or necessary to acquire microform. Backsets may be transferred to microform when the size or alternating formats of the paper copy make binding difficult or when binding costs are such that it is less expensive to acquire a duplicate copy in microform for retention purposes. The Acquisitions Department reports such instances to the Head of Collection Management who makes decisions on changes in format in consultation with the appropriate bibliographer(s).

Except in extraordinary cases, gift backsets for periodical titles for which the library has no current subscription will not be acquired.

Backsets ordinarily are funded through the appropriate subject fund. Funding may be provided through the Discretionary Fund with the approval of the Head of Collection Management. All backset orders must be approved by the Head of Collection Management.

F. Sample (Consideration) File

1. Criteria for Adding a New Title

Physical records and sample issues of recommended periodicals are maintained by Collection Management as are index, abstract, and newspaper records and samples. A computerized file of all titles under consideration also is maintained. This file includes information on publisher, cost, frequency, requestor, subject area, review sources, and indexing.

New titles are added to the Sample File only on the recommendation of the subject bibliographer or, in the case of general titles, the Periodicals Oversight Committee. All faculty/staff/student and UNISTAR recommendations are referred to the appropriate bibliographer(s) for consideration. Each title added to the Sample File is assigned to one of the subject areas by which orders and funds are tracked. Sample issues may be obtained by the Acquisitions Department at the request of the bibliographer or the Periodicals Oversight Committee.

Periodical titles which have been in publication for more than three years but which are not indexed in one of the library's designated primary or secondary indexes rarely are added to the Sample File.

2. Review Cycle

The Sample File is reviewed on a regular basis. Titles which have been in the file for more than five years are given special attention, and are withdrawn or continued on the bibliographer's or Special Services librarian's recommendation.

Revised July 2002

Rod Building
About Us
My Account
Ask Us!
Site Search
Floor Maps
Staff List