12 Pages

In Media Res: A Serials Department in Transition

WithJean Walter Farrington

In the mid-1970s, many libraries undertook the task of automating functions such as circulation and cataloging. Thus began a period of transition away from manual files and toward performing many operations online. This transition, like a long-running Broadway play, is still up in lights after 15 years. Only the locale has changed! Whereas the transition used to be primarily focused in the cataloging and circulation departments, the transition to automation is now being carried out in serials and acquisitions departments as well. Like many academic libraries, the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania is in the midst of transition. The Serials Department, in particular, is “in media res,” betwixt and between the manual world and the online future. This paper will describe the present state of serials processing at Penn, the impact on workflow, and the implications for the next several years.