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A serial is a publication in any medium issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely.

Serials include periodicals; newspapers; annuals (reports, yearbooks, etc.); the journals, memoirs, proceedings, transactions, etc., of societies; and numbered monographic series. The library selectively purchases a wide range of serial publications.

Serials serve as a major source of current information in many academic disciplines and complement the library’s book collection. Because each periodical title involves a prospective long-term commitment of funds, and because of the increasing cost of periodical subscriptions, acquisition of new periodical titles requires serious consideration.

Development of the periodicals collection is a cooperative activity involving faculty and librarians, with final selection responsibility belonging to the librarians.

  1. General Serial Selection Guidelines

    The primary criterion used to evaluate and select a serial subscription is the title’s support of the educational program of the college. Efforts should be made to achieve a balance among the various departments in ordering serials, keeping in mind the differential reliance upon serial publications and their varying costs.

    Other considerations are:

    • Accessibility through indexing and abstracting services
    • Subscription price
    • Availability through interlibrary loan or other document delivery services
    • Use statistics (in-house use and interlibrary loan requests)
    • Holdings of comparable and/or regional educational institutions
    • Presence on a core-titles list for a department or an accrediting agency
    • Appropriateness for the level of study of the subject at the college
    • Positive reviews in professional literature
    • Serials with Hope College staff as editors or with other affiliations

    The collection will be examined regularly in order to evaluate its continued adherence to the above considerations.

    To initiate a request for a serials subscription, the requester must complete the Request for Serials Subscription Form. Specific requirements and procedures are indicated on the request form.

  2. Types of Serials
    • Periodicals

      A periodical is a serial appearing or intended to appear indefinitely at regular or stated intervals, generally more frequently than annually, each issue of which is numbered or dated consecutively and normally contains separate articles, stories or other writings. The library selectively collects periodicals in core and related subject areas. Because of the complexity of the selection process, specific criteria and procedures are provided in “General Serial Selection Guidelines” (above).

    • Newsletters

      A newsletter is a serial consisting of one or a few printed sheets containing news or information of interest chiefly to a special group. When substantive articles begin to outnumber news items, the title is generally considered a periodical. The library generally discourages the collecting of newsletters because of their limited audiences, lack of indexing and temporary nature. Newsletters are usually routed to academic departments.

    • Newspapers

      The library maintains current subscriptions to major national and international newspapers as well as to local and regional papers. Most newspapers are retained for approximately three months. The only newspaper titles permanently retained in print are Hope College publications. Electronic access is maintained for a large number of national and international titles.

    The library subscribes to newspapers to support the educational program of the college, and to support current awareness of activities in the West Michigan area. Effort is made to build a collection that balances geographic coverage and a variety of viewpoints. Selection criteria include availability of indexing and cost.

  3. Serial Format Selection Guidelines
    • Electronic

      In order to maximize access and minimize space constraints, the library subscribes to serial publications electronically if the electronic version of a title may be obtained through a stable, cost-efficient source.

      Scholarly journals that directly support the Hope College curriculum will be converted to an electronic format as long as access to journal content is deemed acceptable and cost effective. Whenever possible, a commitment to archival access is desirable.

      Some examples of accessing original content through acceptable electronic formats include but are not limited to:

      1. Access via the publishers website or an archival full-image aggregator such as JStor is preferred but access via a full-text database such as Gale OneFile may be acceptable.
      2. Full image in pdf format is preferred but full-text may be acceptable.
      3. Access to entire contents of a journal is preferred. Access to selected articles from a journal is not acceptable in most cases.

      Determination of using full-image vs. full-text will be made on a case by case basis depending on subject area requirements.

    • Print

      The purpose of our current print periodical collection is to support current awareness and trends in all disciplines. We will purchase print formats using the following guidelines:

      1. The content is general interest and representative of a discipline.
      2. The periodical is not available in an acceptable electronic format.
      3. The cost of the electronic format is too prohibitive.
    • Serial Microform

      Decisions to purchase microform are made by the librarians on a title-by-title basis. The following considerations contribute to that decision:

      • Publication frequency
      • Periodical is primarily text, with few illustrations
      • Illustrations, graphs and charts are easily reproduced on microform
      • Titles that cannot be bound due to heavy use in print
      • Titles that are not available electronically
      • Titles that are too expensive to purchase in print
      • The print format does not lend itself to binding

(Last revised June 2009.)