May 282009

We conducted an impact and satisfaction survey on SUNCAT in April 2009. The majority of the respondents were library or information professionals but there were also responses from a small number of researchers, lecturing staff and postgraduates.

Responses confirmed SUNCAT’s primary purpose as a serials location tool with around two thirds of the respondents using the service to find where specific serials are held in the UK. Other purposes included:

  • Checking if specific titles are held in particular libraries, cities or regions
  • Checking the bibliographic details of serials
  • Using SUNCAT records to improve or create local library serials’ records

Specific examples of usage also highlighted that SUNCAT regularly saved library staff time and money when trying to locate serials.

“SUNCAT is invaluable in helping me locate libraries that hold journals when British Library is unable to satisfy ILL requests. SUNCAT is my first choice for serials location checking. It is easy to use and has exceptional coverage. I use it daily to trace journals and correct reference information. It has speeded my work up tremendously since it’s introduction and I’d be lost without it.”

Desirable improvements or developments for the service which were highlighted included:

  • Addition of more contributing libraries
  • Reduction of duplication on the catalogue
  • Linking from records on SUNCAT to equivalent records on libraries’ local catalogues
  • Linking from SUNCAT records to Table of Contents services, e.g. Zetoc
Potential Web 2.0 developments received little support from the respondents but there was interest in personalisation features. The most popular of these were:
  • Saving records across sessions
  • Saving searches across sessions
  • Location based results based on users’ preference settings.
A number of these improvements are already in development. The team are gradually catching up with adding a backlog of new libraries data to the catalogue and hope to add more new libraries in the near future. Linking SUNCAT records to Table of Contents services is currently in development as part of the Discovery to Delivery project and location-based searching on SUNCAT is also being investigated as part of the JISC IE Personalisation project .

Finally, 92% of respondents indicated their overall level of satisfaction with SUNCAT as “Good” or “Excellent”.

This is excellent news for the SUNCAT service, with high levels of satisfaction for the existing service and positive support for developments in progress. The team realise, however, that there is still much work to be done to try and ameliorate the effects of duplicate records on the catalogue while also adding more new libraries to further improve the coverage and value of the service.

SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at or the SUNCAT blog at
 May 28, 2009  Posted by at 3:11 pm News Tagged with: , ,  Add comments

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