Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Materiality of Periodicals

Greetings, Reader!

I write to you from the mid-way point of Spring Break, where the to-do list is not half way completed but Spring Break is half over.  Clearly, an opportune moment to blow the dust of this blog, having not even posted about our rousing defeat by USC Gleeson Library in the library shelfie contest a few months ago.  They were gracious winners and even sent a nice consolation prize in return.

No time for such light hearted librarianship today.  A convergence of data provider announcements and an actual reference inquiry converged in a mighty specific way early this morning, and an early burst of social media activity leads me to believe I might just get to 15 seconds of Internet Fame.

What am I talking about?  Scrolling this morning's twitter feed, I noticed this announcement from Dow Jones and quickly replied:

The Bookcharmer's reponse to DJ

I am a seasoned enough (i.e. old) librarian to remember a functional iteration for Dow Jones, before it was even called Factiva.  When a dear colleague and as yet unindicted co-conspirator trained me how to use the new version, she began by saying, "Take everything you know about Dow Jones and forget it.  It is not ever going to work the same way."

Truer words have really been spoken in libraryland.  Factiva has long been an inducer of eye-rolling.  Sure, it has specific uses, which is why we pay for the darned thing in first place, but it has not been keeping up with the user driven environment in which we live now.

Steady yourself, I'm about to praise Ebsco and Proquest.  Are you ready?

One of the most frequent things we look for in library land are specific holdings of periodicals.  I believe I have ranted previously about how we are paying for the same content in multiple places.   However, when it comes to some periodicals, we are forced to go to exactly one place.  This is the case of the periodical Bon Appetit and Factiva.

Why is this a big deal?  Look what happens when I go from our catalog holding indicating we have access to Factiva and what I get when I arrive at that site:

Catalog sez goes to Factiva

This what you get when you arrive:

Surprise!  This is where you go to do a search for a specific title.

Here's how to do that title search, don't go looking for a source search option in the search form:

I had reason to discover this dis-functionality because I had a reference question asking for assistance in locating this exact title.  On the very morning Dow Jones had announced "We are pleased to announce a series of enhancements to Factiva, designed to improve the overall user experience."  No wonder my patron couldn't find it!  I'm going to leave off with my Factiva disgruntlement here, except to say that vendors such as EbsQuest or ProCo and MuseStor and etc. are able to provide a stable URL to specific periodicals which we can use as links in our catalog to take patrons to the exact journal they wish to search you can too, DJ.

I'm going to set that particular grudge aside for the moment because a much bigger issue was raised for my hunt to find what my patron requested, which was a photo layout by a well known photographer she is researching.  In the end, the Factiva holdings of Bon Appetit would not have helped us at all, because it is a text only site.

The print periodical collection saved the day again.  Should I ask, Bon Appetit, how long it will be until you offer your backfiles, complete backfiles, for libraries to access electronically?  

Yes, these are unbound issues.  I'm not happy about that either.  

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