Enhancing the Online Catalog with Electronic Journal Information
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PURPOSE: Electronic journals present a number of problems for our traditional understanding both of library ownership and of access through the catalog. Our decision on whether to add electronic journal information to the catalog and how much to add should, however, be guided by the needs of our clients. This study attempts to measure the usefulness to the library's clients of information on electronic journals that was added to the online catalog. METHODOLOGY: A three-tiered schedule of possible electronic journal enhancements was formulated. Implementation of each successive tier will depend on measurable increases in journal searching in the catalog. Level one enhancements include hypertext links in the catalog to journals accessible in both paper and online formats. Level two would add linked catalog records for titles accessible only in online format. Level three would add individualized holdings statements to all the electronic journal records. A random sample of catalog searches will be analyzed both to determine whether the amount of journal searching justifies the first tier of enhancements and to give a baseline from which to measure any increase in journal searches. If the first tier of enhancements is implemented, searching will again be measured. Other factors being equal, a sizable increase in journal searching should indicate that the enahncements were useful to clients and would justify implementing the next tier. RESULTS: When we measured the amount of journal searching before any enhancements, it exceeded our expectations enough to justify the implementation of the first level of enhancements. We will measure journal searching again approximately three weeks and then six weeks after the implementation of enhancements to see if journal searching has increased. Further results will be reported at the time of the presentation. CONCLUSIONS: The study should provide evidence on whether or not the library catalog can serve as a useful tool for clients accessing an electronic journal collection. Because the study makes the implementation of each tier of the catalog enhancements dependent on measurable increases in usage, it also offers a good example of evidence-based librarianship.