Cunningham D. "Assessing and selecting journals for your library's core list" Information Outlook, 7(11):41-45, November 2003.

Eugene Garfield garfield at CODEX.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Fri Oct 8 11:08:27 EDT 2004

Diane Cunningham :  bcdcrc at

TITLE :  Assessing and selecting journals for your library's core list

AUTHOR:  Diane Cunningham

SOURCE:  Information Outlook, 7(11):41-45, November 2003.


Journal literature is very important to research organizations.  The library
of such an organization must try to be as comprehensive as possible in
selecting relevant, high quality journals.  The library must also weigh
whether to acquire  new journal titles that may have limited lifespans or
continue with long-standing titles thata can be counted on to have a
lifespan of 50 to 80 years.  Given the rising costs of library resources,
coupled with necessarily limited budgets, libraries must be selective in the
types of materials they purchase and retain.  Materials must meet the
greatest need across a diverse customer base (Goehner 1984).

Developing a core list of journal titles for the major scientific
organizational units (OU's) of the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) seemed to be a natural first step in focusing the Research
Library's most relevant journal resources on researcher needs.  The NIST
Research Library decided to develop such a list, with the help of the

Through our customer survey, NIST Research Library users told us what they
wanted, and the library responded.  Thanks to the Core Journal Project, the
Research Library has established closer communication with NIST divisions in
the laboratories.  Moreover, there is now a list of 650 recommended journal
titles that are considered core by NIST researchers.  Both NIST researchers
and the library will reap benefits in the long run.  This process helps the
Research Library know its customers better and understand the resources that
are important to them.  The Research Library now knows which journals are
most important when considering any future journal cancellations.

Because most technical divisions participated in this project, the core
journal list reflects subject areas from across NIST, which would enable the
library to have a more complete journal collection if all the recommended
titles could be purchased.  Thre were 87 titles (14%) on the core list that
the library either did not subscribe to currently or had never subscribed
to.  The next step will be to check interlibrary loan records to determine
if these titles have been borrowed heavily from other libraries in the past.
 If they have, the library should try to obtain these titles in the future
if funds permit.  The divisions and the librarians  will review the core
list annualy for possible additions and deletions, checking circulation
records to determine how heavily these titles are being used.

At a minimum, the Research Library has a more detailed tool to guide future
collection development decisions.  A core list of protected journals can be
used for several successive serial reviews and can be a valuable part of a
serials evaluation procedure (Hughes 1995).

In the future, the library intends to contact researchers on an ongoing
basis through a formal Library Laboratory Liaison Program.  Librarians
serving as laboratory liaisons will use the core journal list as the first
step in developing a thorough knowledge of their customers.

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