NASIG Core Competencies for Print Serials Management
NASIG C ORE COMPETENCIES FORP R INT SERIALS MANAGEMENT Final Version Approved and adopted by the NASIG Executive Bo, a Mrday 30, 201 5
This document supplements the NASIG Core Competencies for Electronic Resources Librarians (adopted July 22, 2013) by describing skills and knowledge that librarians need to manage physical format serials in today's libraries. The Core Competencies fort PSerirnials Management follows the structure of its companion document, highlighting competencies distinctive to managing information in physical formats. It is based on research conducted by the NASIG Core Competencies Task Force (CCTF), including an oriagli n content analysis of position description s . The prominence of electronic resources in many libraries' collections does not render obsolete traditional print management tasks like receiving, claiming and binding, contrary to common perception. Libraries o f all sizes report they are actively managing print serials and allocating considerable budgets and staff time to these activities. The personnel responsible for performing physical serials workflows vary according to staffing patterns based on a 's lib rary size and organizational complexity. At some libraries, M-h‐LoSlding librarians work directly with print serials; at others, paraprofessional staff perform these roles while librarians are responsible for supervision, budgeting and strategic planning. n Ev wehen they do not directly perform workflows, librarians still need to be familiar with the print serials lifecycle and with tasks like binding, claiming and physical processing, in order to oversee staff, troubleshoot difficult problems, and evaluate the effectiveness of workflows. We recognize that responsibility for print serials management is shared among librarians and paraprofessional staff, and that in many cases, individuals have responsibility for both physical and electronic format serials. Wero ppose the following competencies for librarians involved in print serials management, with the understanding that librarians can demonstrate proficiency in performing these tasks or supervising others, and that each institution may adopt a subset of these c ompetencies, depending on its size, mission and workflow s. 1. Life Cycle of Print Serial s Serials librarians have extensive knowledge of the life cycle of physical format serials, beyond that required of a generalist. This depth of understanding alloewriasls s librarians to collaborate across the multiple units or departments involved in decisions about print se rials. Serials librarians have: 1.1 Thorough knowledge of serials acquisitions, including trends in publishing and subscription services, publication patterns for receipt and claiming, and shipping practi c es.
1.2 Ability to apply the principles involved in the organization and reptaretisoenn of recorded
knowledge and information to the organization of physical format resources, in order to select
and provide useful access points for the communities they ser ve.
1.2.1 Experience describing physical format items using standards suchO aNsS E CR and
1.2.2 Ability to describe materials written in languages other than English may be
necessary at some libraries .
1 .3 Thorough understanding of records management to coordinate and manage records
related to serials purchases, subscriptioncs h,eckins, and holdings.
1.4 Knowledge of best practices in physical processing of items (such as labeling, barcoding,
inventory, and security treatments) .
1.4.1 Tracking and shipping may be of particular importance to libraries that contain
multiple branches, store serials offsite, or participate in a shared print initia tive.
1.4.2 Some responding libraries stated specific expectations of physical abilities needed
to hold, carry and otherwise manipulate serials, with accommodations to make these
tasks accessible to people of all abilitie s.
1.5 Ability to apply classification systems (such as Library of Congress call numbers) and local
practices (such as shelving and stack maintenance procedures) to ensure access to physical
serials of all formats.
1.6 A bility to assist library users and provide basic instruction in how to use technical systems
(e.g. microfilm readers) required for access to physical seri a ls.
1.7 Knowledge of basic principles related to conservation of physical mater i als.
1.7.1 Familiarity with basic principles of binding. Ability to establish or apply consistent
practices for itemization.
1.7.2 Familiarity with the library's disaster recovery pla n.
1.8 Knowledge of local practices related to item deselection and withdrawali,n f arnasdtructure
for exchanging duplicate or otherwise unwanted items between librar ies.
2.1 Serials librarians are familiar with library software specific to print workflows, partic u larly:
2.1.1 ILS serials modul e
2.1.2 Bindery recordso ftware
2.1.3 Bibliographic and other utilities used to record metad ata
2.2 Serials librarians are familiar with the operation of physical equipment (e.g. microfiche
readers) used in the storage and retrieval of print ser i als.
2.3 Serials librarians o cnsider how new library technologies (e.g. clo-bu‐adsed Library
Management Systems) may impact print serials workflows, and contribute to discussions about
the implementation of library systems.
3. Research and Professional Developmen t
Serials management is a field characterized by rapid change, and the skillset required for
serialists to be successful at their work is also in flux. Responding libraries emphasize the
rewards of creating an organizational culture that values collaboration and team lge.a r nin
Serials librarians have opportunities to model a commitment to professional development
through continuing education and engagement with the defining problems of the field.
Research skills are also helpful for serials librarians. Many positions ree q thueir incumbent to
define and pursue a research agenda. Even in positions that do not include a formal research
requirement, many da-yt‐ o-d‐ay decisions related to print serials management can be improved
by gathering and evaluating evidence related to wloorwkfs or the collection. Respondents
mentioned several specific examples of ways that serials librarians can help to promote a
culture of evidence-b‐ased decision making. Among other areas, serials librarians can provide
useful input on:
3.1 Acquisitions and collection management (e.g. determining the c-oe‐sfftectiveness of
converting a subscription from print to online formats; minimizing service fees)
3.2 Preservation (e.g. most effective format for retaining back issues of a seri-ael‐;ffe coctsitve
physical preservation of serials; participation in a shared print reposit ory)
3.3 Use of physical space (e.g. determining shelf space to be freed by a stack shifting or
3.4 Troubleshooting access problems (e.g. estimating error rates inl o cgata records)
4. Effective Communication
Serials librarians strive for effective communication with colleagues in the library, as well as
with vendors, agents, patrons and other external stakeholders in the serials information cycle.
Libraries value thea b ility to clearly articulate problems and goals, the capacity to collectively
brainstorm solutions and the trait of continuously innovating on current practices. Therefore,
the ability to clearly communicate both verbally and in writing is crucial ia folsr l siberarians,
although the extent to which these skills may be called upon in the performance of the job will
likely vary, depending on the organization. Language competency was also a preferred
qualification in some position statements, and respondilnibgra ries mentioned situations where
language skills were helpful, such as communicating with international vendors or describing
collections in fields like modern languages, art or hist o ry.
5. S upervision and Management
In many libraries, paraprofessioanl serials staff are responsible for hiring, training, supervising
and evaluating the work of student assistants or other staff. Serials librarians model effective
managerial skills, time management and the ability to evaluate and improve workflows.
Effective serials librarians are advocates for their staffs, building trusted relationships that serve
to motivate and encourage their subordinates' grow t h.
6. P ersonal Qualities
Most of the same qualities that make a librarian effective at managing elecr tersoonuicrces –
flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, a focus on serving users and effective time
management skills- ‐a lso apply to managing print serials. Responding libraries often specifically
mentioned the need to apply logical reasonings u ipnport of troubleshooting activities (such as
fixing errors in ILS records or locating misrouted issu e s).
This document was prepared by thee m mbers of the NASIG Core Competencies Task F:o r ce
Eugenia Beh, member (Massachusetts Institute of Technolog y)
Steve Black, member (College of Saint Ros e)
Susan Davis, member (State University of New York, Buffa lo)
Sanjeet Mann, chair (University of Redland s)
Taryn Resnick, member (University of Wisconsin, Madiso n)
Sarah Sutton, board liaison 201-23‐015 (Emporia Sttae University)