Nov 072014

SUNCAT has been updated.  Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service over the past week.  The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Goldsmiths University of London (03 Nov 14)
  • ISSN (17 Oct 14)
  • Kent University (01 Nov 14)
  • London Business School (04 Nov 14)
  • London Metropolitan University (27 Oct 14)
  • National Library of Scotland (05 Nov 14)
  • Newcastle University (24 Oct 14)
  • Nottingham University (03 Nov 14)
  • Oxford University (22 Oct 14)
  • Robert Gordon University (03 Nov 14)
  • Royal Museums Greenwich Caird Library (31 Oct 14)
  • Southampton University (02 Nov 14)
  • University of the West of England (23 Oct 14)
  • Warwick University (03 Nov 14)
  • York University (15 Jul 14)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

 November 7, 2014  Posted by at 9:47 am Updates No Responses »
Oct 312014

SUNCAT has been updated.  Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service over the past week.  The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Bristol University (22 Oct 14)
  • CONSER (29 Oct 14)
  • The London Library (28 Oct 14)
  • Southampton University (26 Oct 14)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

 October 31, 2014  Posted by at 1:10 pm Updates No Responses »
Feb 272014

We are very pleased to announce that the records of London Metropolitan University have now been added to SUNCAT. This makes it our first new Contributing Library of 2014, and brings the total number to 93, plus CONSER database, the ISSN register and the Directory of Open Access Journals. Almost 36,000 of its serial records for both print and electronic titles have just been loaded into our service.

London Metropolitan University offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses, which range from design to life sciences; from business to computing; and law to theatre practice. It has three library sites: Commercial Road, the newly-refurbished Holloway Road, and Calcutta House. There are also serials held as part of the Trades Union Congress Library Collections. In the TUC Collections there are over 5000 periodical titles in runs ranging from one issue to eighty years.

For further information and news about SUNCAT please see our website, follow SUNCAT on Twitter (@suncatteam), or contact the EDINA helpdesk at

 February 27, 2014  Posted by at 3:22 pm Contributing Libraries Tagged with:  No Responses »
Oct 142013

We carried out a user satisfaction survey on the service between November 2012 and January 2013. A report of the results was published earlier this year, see our post from February 2013. Overall, the response was very positive with the vast majority of respondents finding SUNCAT not only easy or very easy to use (86%) but that it also saved them time (89%). Further, 97% indicated they would recommend the service to others. However, we did also ask for comments and suggestions on how SUNCAT could be improved. This information is particularly useful for us as we work on redeveloping the SUNCAT interface. We have now analysed and summarised these suggestions into in a Quality Improvement Report with tables detailing our responses and actions. They have been graded using the following formula:

  1. Done or due for release soon
  2. Do soon, requires little resource
  3. Already planned
  4. Put on to-do list, needs more effort
  5. Not achievable or beyond scope

We are pleased to report that a large number of suggestions have been graded with “1. Done or due for release soon”, as they have been incorporated into the first release of our redeveloped service – please watch out for imminent news on this!

Please contact us at if you have any other suggestions for further improvements or comments on this report.

 October 14, 2013  Posted by at 2:57 pm Developments, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 082013


Today (8th August) is World Cat Day! (Honest, that’s what it says on the Internet…)  To celebrate, we have some weird and wonderful cat-orientated titles from SUNCAT.

The adventures of cat and girl.

The Adventures of Fat Freddy’s cat.

Arkansas Thomas cat.

Cat boarding.

Cat companion from Friskies.

Cat fanciers’ almanac.

The cat in the hat annual / Dr. Seuss.

Cat lovers diary.

Cat mews for a healthier cat.


Cat tales.

The Cat with future feet.

The Cat’s pause.

Cat’s yawn.

China-cat sunflower.

Cicero’s cat.

Cosmo the cosmic cat.

Fat cat monthly.

Felix the cat and friends.

Felix the Cat’s blockbuster movie bonanza.

Fur & feather.

International cat fancy magazine.

The library cat newsletter.


The miner’s cat.

The miniature cat collection : collect exquisite miniatures of the world’s best-loved cats.

The Progressive fancier : a high-class monthly journal devoted to the interests of rabbit, cat, mouse, cavy, and other fanciers.

Put the cat out.

Quasi-occasional kitty kat.


Top Cat.

Vanishing cat.

Whole cat journal.

Walt Disney’s jungle cat.

The whole cat : natural health and healing for your cat.

Kitten frenzy

Kitty in my pocket



Disclaimer: it is noted that not *all* titles may be 100% feline-orientated!


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 August 8, 2013  Posted by at 1:33 pm Weird titles Tagged with:  No Responses »
Aug 072013

This is the third in a series of blog posts highlighting some of the new or improved features which will be available in the redeveloped SUNCAT. In this post we are going to focus on the latest version of the exact title index.

Basic and advanced search along with browsing will provide users with an exact title index.  The index will be available from a pull down menu on each of the pages.

Searching by Exact Title

We have spent a lot of time and effort to decide exactly how ‘exact’ the index should be. Our first consideration was whether we should actually include a separate index or if the title keywords index would prove sufficient. However, we believe that an exact title search is very useful for “known” item searches, so that when users know precisely which title they are interested in, they can quickly and efficiently focus in on finding where that particular title is held in the UK.

After several false starts, the first of which some of you may have seen when the service was previewed in April/May, we have defined the following rules for the exact title search (for now at least!):

1) It is case insensitive e.g. searches on NEW YORK TIMES, new york times and NeW YoRk TiMeS will all return the same matches.
2) Special characters are ignored, we are currently defining special characters as !”#$%&'()*+,-./:;<=>?@[\]^_`{|}~ after further testing and feedback these may be tweaked.
3) Diacritics are ignored e.g. search terms containing an e will find ê and so on.
4) If a title has a skip in filing defined it matches with and without the skip in filing value e.g. a serial that has a MARC 21 245a tag of

245 04$aThe journal of Hellenic studies /$cthe Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies.

will get a match for either The journal of Hellenic studies or journal of Hellenic studies.

5) No partial matching, e.g. a search on New York Times will only match serials titled New York Times not New York Times Supplement.
6) It will only find matches if all the words in a search entry are in the correct order e.g. a search on New York Times will match New York Times but not York New Times.
7) Trailing whitespace at the beginning and end of an index value will be ignored.

The actual MARC 21 tags/subfields we build the exact title index from in the redeveloped SUNCAT are as follows:

1) 245 abnp (Title Statement)
2) 246 abnp (Varying Form of Title)
3) 210 a (Abbreviated Title)
4) 222 a (Key Title)

This is a significant decrease from the number of tags/subfields that the existing SUNCAT service uses for this index so we hope that this should result in directing users quickly and easily to information about specific titles of interest without the distraction of also seeing similar or related titles.

The default title keywords search will remain as a much more inclusive index, enabling users to search across MARC fields concerned with not only the main title entry but also uniform titles, related titles, continuing titles, series titles etc. – in total indexing around 30 MARC tags. As the default search this will continue to allow users to find information when they are less sure of or less specific about the titles they want to retrieve.

 August 7, 2013  Posted by at 2:15 pm Developments Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 012013

Today (the 1st of August) is Yorkshire Day. To help celebrate this lovely part of the world we have compiled a list of weird and wonderful titles relating to Yorkshire. We hope you enjoy them!

  • Ale talk : magazine of the Heavy Woollen branch of CAMRA.
  • The Bairnsla foaks’ annual an Pogmoor Olmenack / be Tom Treddlehoyle.
  • The bar : Barnsley ale report / Barnsley CAMRA.
  • Bob Stubbs’ original comic Yorksher awmynack.
  • Burnt toast magazine.
  • The Chalk aquifer of Yorkshire.
  • Dalesteam.
  • The Dewsbre back at mooin olmenac, an t’ West Ridin’ historical calendar.
  • Keels and cuckoos : the South Yorkshire and Dukeries Branch newsletter.
  • Poetic enlightenment from Yorkshire.
  • Pub mirror.
  • Push and pull : Magazine of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
  • Regional r£wards for Yorkshire and the North East.
  • Yorkshire swine monthly.
  • The bacon hog quarterly.
  • Early Yorkshire charters : being a collection of documents anterior to the thirteenth century … / edited by William Farrer [then] C.T. Clay …
  • His Majesties Letter to the Gentry of Yorkshire.
  • The Leeds Express Morning Tissue.
  • The Leeds Express Mid-day Tissue : The Yorkshire Sporting Pink.
  • Tum & tipple : the good life of Yorkshire.
  • Wool city rocker : Yorkshire’s rock magazine.
  • Yorkshire Chat : A weekly journal for Yorkshiremen.
  • Yorkshire cactus journal.
  • Yorkshire Pud : The daily newspaper of the 7th Bn. The Duke of Wellington’s Regt.
  • Yorkshire relish.
  • Yorkshire surnames series.
  • The Yorkshire Tramper.

For more Yorkshire-themed titles and other weird and wonderful serials take a look in SUNCAT.

 August 1, 2013  Posted by at 10:16 am Weird titles Tagged with:  No Responses »
Feb 152013

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the catalogue in the last week. The dates displayed indicate when the files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Bristol University (08 Feb 13)
  • British Library (01 Feb 13)
  • CONSER (06 Feb 13)
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (11 Feb 13)
  • Exeter University (01 Feb 13)
  • National Art Library (05 Feb 13)
  • National Library of Scotland (01 Feb 13)
  • Royal Society of Medicine (08 Feb 13)
  • St Andrews University (04 Feb 13)
  • Senate House Libraries, University of London (01 Feb 13)
  • University College London (11 Feb 13)
  • Wellcome Library (29 Jan 13)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updatespage for further details.

SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at or the SUNCAT blog at
 February 15, 2013  Posted by at 3:44 pm Updates No Responses »
Feb 142013

We’ve just published the reportfrom our Benefits and Impact Survey for 2013. The survey was launched back in November and closed at the end of last month.

The report confirms SUNCAT’s primary role as a centralised source of serials information and UK holdings, with 75% of responses stating, either locating serials and articles, or checking bibliographic information, as the primary purposes for using the service.

The key features of the service which are most valued by the respondents include:

  • SUNCAT’s comprehensive coverage
  • Its aggregation and display of serials information and UK holdings
  • The accuracy and currency of the data provided
  • The speed and ease of use of the service

We are very happy to see that the vast majority of respondents find SUNCAT not only easy or very easy to use (86%) but that it also saves them time (89%). Further, 97% indicated they would recommend the service to others.

“It is such a comprehensive reference source it would take me much longer to check information elsewhere.”

“SUNCAT is easy to use and its coverage of UK serial holdings is great.”

“Very trustworthy, fast and comprehensive. Records are to a very high standard.”

“Find Suncat invaluable. If it wasn’t available I would try to source an alternative. Don’t know what though!”

We also used the survey to find out what improvements our users would like to see in SUNCAT so that we can use this information to plan and prioritise our future developments. A number of the suggestions related to the data provided by the SUNCAT Contributing Libraries (CLs), both requesting more detailed holdings information and also providing additional information such as licensing restrictions for electronic serials. While this area is not one EDINA has immediate control over we do take note of these ideas, in the hope that if our CLs start recording and linking such information to their serials records, we would be able to start incorporating this into SUNCAT.

However, with regard to suggested improvements related to the SUNCAT interface we are happy to report that a number of these will be addressed as part of the redevelopment of SUNCAT, announced in November and mentioned in the previous posting. These include:

  • Moving the search functionality to the homepage of the service to integrate the service and website more closely
  • Providing a print/electronic serials limit to the search functionality to enable users to pre-filter their search by format
  • Adding print/electronic icons to the holdings display to enable users to more quickly and easily distinguish between print and electronic holdings

It is also good to know that our users are keen to see the service continue to expand and we will indeed be continuing to add new libraries throughout 2013.

Additional suggestions, described in the report, were also received and we will be investigating the feasibility of these and where possible adding them to a list of requirements for future development work.
SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at or the SUNCAT blog at
 February 14, 2013  Posted by at 12:52 pm Developments Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Feb 132013

Back in a post in November 2012 we announced that EDINA is redeveloping the existing SUNCAT search platform. We also gave you a preview of the new design and now we want to follow these posts up with more technical information about the new architecture.

New Search Platform

The cornerstone to the SUNCAT service is the ability to search for libraries’ MARC records and we wanted this to be as efficient as possible within the new architecture. We have therefore decided to use the open source enterprise search platform ‘Solr’ from the Apache Software foundation given its popularity and feature set.

We have established a workflow, which exports records from Aleph (currently used for loading and de-duplication of libraries’ serial records) and indexes these records within Solr.

The diagram below illustrates the process:

Individual MARC records are exported from Aleph and these are then grouped into MARC collections. A MARC collection consists of records from the libraries holding a particular serial.

These MARC collections are then indexed in Solr using a modified version of the open source solrmarc code.

Currently the Solr index consists of over 5 million individual library MARC records and in terms of storage sizes, this equates to over 30GB on disk.

New Interface

Storing all of the records in Solr however is only part of the new architecture. We are developing a new user interface for the SUNCAT service, taking the opportunity to also incorporate some new features that exploit the power of Solr.

A combination of the Java programming language, Groovy programming language and the Grails framework has been chosen as the software stack as it enables a rapid development process and also leverages the experience of developers within EDINA.

Grails follows the highly popular software design pattern of Model View Controller, which allows separation of concerns and a clean software design.

The following diagram illustrates at a very high level the architecture we are using and how Solr is involved:

We are developing a number of ‘controllers’, which are used to process user requests and issue queries to Solr as and when required. These controllers are designed for specific tasks e.g.

• Handling search requests

• Handling API requests

• Handling requests to view details of a specific MARC record etc.

We also have a number of templates that comprise the ‘views’ of the new system. When a controller has completed the processing of the user request and it is ready to return something to the user (e.g. a web page), it uses the relevant template and injects the correct data e.g. the search results. Using a template approach for all of the views of the system provides a huge amount of flexibility as we have full control of all visual aspects of the service and we can even support different output formats based on the user request e.g. supporting HTML, XML, JSON etc.

Enabling Searching at Library Level

We are also spending time in constructing a database to store institution, library and location data and integrating this within the new user interface in-order to allow users to perform more detailed searches within SUNCAT. For example searches can be performed at the library level whereas previously users could only search at the institutional level. We have also tagged every library with its GPS coordinates, which allows us to show all SUNCAT contributing libraries in a map interface and will allow proximity based searching in the forthcoming SUNCAT mobile application for iOS.

We will be keeping you up to date with more posts, about the redevelopment and the mobile app, to follow over the next few months.

SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at or the SUNCAT blog at