Jun 222018

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

  • British Library (14 Jun 18)
  • CONSER (Not UK Holdings) (14 Jun 18)
  • Durham University (14 Jun 18)
  • Glasgow University (12 Jun 18)
  • Leeds University (03 Jun 18)
  • NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) (13 Jun 18)
  • National Library of Scotland (03 Jun 18)
  • Reading University (05 Jun 18)
  • Southampton University (10 Jun 18)

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

 June 22, 2018  Posted by at 11:53 am Uncategorized No Responses »
Nov 112015

With information about the serials holdings of over 100 UK research libraries SUNCAT is the ideal tool for providing an overview of serials holdings across the UK. Currently, however, it is only possible to search the web interface title by title, which makes the comparison, of any significant collection of serials, a resource intensive exercise. Therefore, to enable libraries to easily conduct a more comprehensive comparison we have developed a new Serials Holdings Comparison service.

The service enables libraries to submit a file of ISSNs for comparison purposes. The results produced can help with decision making around collection management tasks, such as cancelling or renewing subscriptions, moving titles into storage, or deselecting lower use material.

The service consists of a simple interface where a library can upload a CSV file of ISSNs. They can then:

  • Choose to run the comparison against all 103 libraries on SUNCAT, or against a particular selection of libraries
  • Choose to compare against print only holdings, or against print and electronic holdings

The submission process is very straightforward and a validation stage will highlight any missing or invalid ISSNs in the file, which may be useful beyond the scope of the comparison.

There are a number of different outputs, including:

Graph view: a visual overview or snapshot of the level of holdings for titles across the selected libraries

holdings comparison graph

List view: this displays the total number of holding libraries for each ISSN and lists each holding library and its summary holding statement. The list can be ordered by number of holding libraries and can be filtered to show those titles submitted which are held in a small or, alternatively, a large number of libraries and by those titles marked for UKRR retention.

holdings comparison list view

CSV file: a detailed report of all the libraries holding each title, an indication if the holdings are print or electronic, their summary holdings statements and an indication of whether a title is marked for UKRR retention.

We have completed some initial testing on the service with a number of our contributing libraries and have subsequently made some improvements to the service. We would now like to open up the test service to a wider group of libraries to gather further feedback before we make the service available to all. If you have a task or project, with which you think the service might assist, and would be willing to provide some feedback on the process and the service in general, then please contact us at suncat@ed.ac.uk as soon as possible. We will be happy to arrange a short demo of the service and for access to the test site.

If you have any questions about the new service please also contact us at suncat@ed.ac.uk, we look forward to hearing from you!

SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at http://www.suncat.ac.uk.

 November 11, 2015  Posted by at 3:39 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Nov 092015

We have just released an upgrade to SUNCAT which fixes a number of minor issues with the service and also introduces a new feature enabling you to quickly locate journal holdings which are closest to you.

When you find a title of interest on SUNCAT and scroll down the full record display to see the holding libraries you will see these are sorted alphabetically by the library name. However, you can now see a location marker at the top left hand side of the holdings display. Clicking on this marker will reorder the holdings by location, with those closest to you at the top of the list.

holdings by distance 1

The distance of each library, from your current location, will be displayed beside the library name so you can quickly decide if a library is within reasonable travel distance for you.

holdings by distance 2

You can then click on the library name to open up the library information page and get directions to it.

holdings by distance 3

One other improvement to note is that you can now filter your search results by institution even if you have selected pre-search library or location limits – previously this filter was unavailable when the library and location limits were in use.

We hope you find both of these features useful, please do let us have your feedback via the EDINA Helpdesk, edina@ed.ac.uk or via the contact link at the bottom of all the SUNCAT pages.

SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at http://www.suncat.ac.uk.

 November 9, 2015  Posted by at 2:47 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Sep 282015

We’ve just made the report from the latest SUNCAT survey available on our website. The survey was conducted by Jisc in early summer and the feedback we received has been invaluable in helping us to identify any areas which need improvement or development to keep the service relevant to our users’ current requirements.

The vast majority of respondents were Information Professionals from a range to institutions, including HE, FE, the NHS and national libraries.

User affiliation2








The two most popular reasons for using SUNCAT were related to:

  • Locating serials for library users
  • Checking serials’ bibliographic information











Respondents favourite features of the service were SUNCAT’s:

  • Speed and ease of use
  • Accuracy and currency of data provided
  • Aggregation of serials and holdings data
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Holdings information and display

Over 70% of respondents reported that SUNCAT saved them time:

“I can go to quality records easily, trusting the information there, without wasting time browsing in places like COPAC etc”

 “Enables me to locate locations to apply to for ILLs without needing to check individual library catalogues or use Worldcat which is often unreliable”

 “There are a number of things I can see at a glance from the result page. When upgrading serial records, I can quickly move between several records in the SUNCAT display and the layout is easy to navigate.”

 “It is a more convenient union catalogue to use than copac for searching journals only, as it immediately shows all available holdings data for different institutions on each catalogue record. It also seems to run faster than both copac and Search25 much of the time”

  • 77% reported that the effectiveness of the SUNCAT search was either good or very good
  • 74% reported that with regard to ease of use SUNCAT was either good or very good
  • 74% indicated that their overall satisfaction with the service was either good or very good

Respondents were also asked how likely they would be to recommend SUNCAT and why

“In terms of locating UK serials information it’s unrivalled. Copac is not as comprehensive, Worldcat a lot more unwieldy.”

 “Very useful for checking journals holdings for lots of libraries at once – ideal for sourcing locating for ILLs”

 “As it is based on British libraries’ holdings it often records more obscure and rarer European periodicals, especially in foreign languages, than perhaps WorldCat. It is invaluable as a source of bibliographic information on serials as well as a record of quite detailed library holdings.”

 “It is so useful to have all serials in one catalogue to locate which library has what you want. Also saves a lot of time.”

 “Very clear interface. Comprehensive coverage.”

Finally users were asked for suggestions for improvements to the service. These included:

  • Better deduplication of records for the same title
  • Improved exact title search
  • Improving the visibility of the advanced search and browse options
  • Enabling viewing of older as well as current tables of contents
  • Providing a reset search button to clear previous search terms

The complete list or suggestions and our response to them can be found in the full report. We will be reviewing and evaluating each suggestion to enable us to prioritise our development plans over the next year.

Overall the results of the survey are very positive for SUNCAT. Respondents continue to have a high level of satisfaction with the service, finding it fast and easy to use. The redeveloped search platform has now had the opportunity to become embedded and appears to have been well received. However, the results also highlight a number of areas where improvements could be made. EDINA is aware of and has development plans around some of these and will investigate others as potential future developments.



 September 28, 2015  Posted by at 3:52 pm News, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Feb 192014

A reminder about this this free half-day event focusing on some of the key issues in journal management – with presentations and discussion of the overarching themes and successful approaches in addressing them.

This is an opportunity to learn more about developments of EDINA activities in this area -covering the redeveloped National Union Catalogue of Serials, SUNCAT, as well as community initiatives such as the UK LOCKSS Alliance and Keepers Registry, focussing on long-term access to journal content.

We are also delighted to announce the addition of a special guest speaker, Daryl Yang, UK Research Reserve (UKRR) Manager, who will provide an update on the UKRR and talk about how EDINA supports this valuable service.

Join us for a lively debate and afternoon tea.

Presenters: Zena Mulligan (SUNCAT), Fred Guy (Keepers Registry, SUNCAT), Adam Rusbridge (Keepers Registry, UK LOCKSS) and Daryl Yang (UKRR)

Draft Agenda

1.00 – 1.30 pm              Registration and tea/coffee

1.30 – 1.45 pm              Putting the Serials Forum and EDINA services in context

1.45 – 2.45 pm             Managing your journals – how SUNCAT can help you fulfil your ILL requests; keep your catalogue up to date and analyse your collection (including use cases; how SUNCAT supports the UKRR, details of the redevelopment; demo of the new service, and future plans)

2.45 – 3.00 pm              Forum discussion on SUNCAT issues

3.00 – 3.30 pm              Tea/coffee and cake

3.30 – 4.15 pm              Securing continuing access to e-journal content: how EDINA’s services can help (with reference to the Keepers Registry, UK LOCKSS Alliance, and PECAN initiatives)

4.15 – 4.45 pm              Forum discussion on Keepers Registry, LOCKSS, PECAN etc. issues

4.45 – 5.00 pm              Summary and next steps


London:  Monday 17th March 2014, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, near Russell Square, London
Registration and event details: http://edina-serials-forum-london.eventbrite.co.uk
Please book by Thursday 6th March 2014

Edinburgh:  Friday 21st March 2014, Main Library, University of Edinburgh
Registration and event details: http://edina-serials-forum-edinburgh.eventbrite.co.uk
Please book by Friday 14th March 2014

For further information about the Forum please contact the EDINA helpdesk at edina@ed.ac.uk

We look forward to seeing you next month!

 February 19, 2014  Posted by at 3:32 pm Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , ,  No Responses »
Feb 052014

SUNCAT is based on the bibliographic serials records of a Contributing Library and the associated holdings.  In order to create a clean search result, the records for the same title are put into one set, with the holdings for all records visible at the point of display attached to the best bibliographic record (preferred record). This means that the user, having located a journal in the database, is shown a coherent display of all the holdings information for the contributing libraries.

Building a union catalogue therefore involves establishing which of the submitted records from Contributing Libraries should be matched as they represent the same entity.  The outcome is the creation of a large number of sets, with each set containing all the matched bibliographic records submitted by the Contributing Libraries, along with the associated holdings information. Where there is no match of a record with any other submitted record, the set will contain one record.

Updating a union catalogue involves running a complex set of processes.  The key steps are the following:

1.    For each incoming record the identification of records already in the database for possible matching with each incoming record.  Possible matched records are copied into the ‘Candidate Pool’. The selection of candidates involves utilising 3 direct indexes (LCCN, ISSN/ISBN and a keyword index (normalised index)

2.    Running of processes to ascertain with which records (if any) in the candidate pool the incoming record matches.   This involves running a matching algorithm which compares key elements (title, ISSN etc.) in the incoming record with each record in the candidate pool and assigning numerical values depending on whether or not there is a match between the data elements.  The values for each element are totalled and, when the pre-determined threshold  value is reached, a match is declared.   The matched records are held in the ‘Matched documents buffer’. More information on the matching algorithm is provided here. 

3.    Recording the details of matched records held in the ‘Matched documents buffer’ on the incoming record and the record(s) already in the database.  This is done by each record in the database having an associated table (z120) and this contains information such as the number of records with which it has matched and the system numbers for these matched records.

EDINA had requested some improvements to the processes used to carry out the above and these improvements were included in the Aleph version 20 upgrade carried out in late 2013.  The specific improvements are:

·         New Candidates Pool Size Parameter.  The allowed values are now between 100 and 500.  This has been initially set at 250 meaning that if 250 or fewer records are identified, the process moves onto the matching stage.  If more than 250 candidates are identified the software deems the incoming record not to match and it therefore becomes a single record set.  

·       Candidate Pool Common titles. A new routine has been added to help reduce the number of candidate titles.  All candidate titles are compared with a list of common titles and if there is a match the candidate title is excluded from the candidate pool.

·         Matched Documents Buffer. The size of this has been increased from 100 to 500.  This expansion is necessary as the number of SUNCAT Contributing Libraries increases.

As part of the ongoing SUNCAT software redevelopment, work has already begun on the design of a new, improved matching algorithm.  More information on the approach being taken will be given in a future blog posting. 

 February 5, 2014  Posted by at 3:16 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Nov 062013

EDINA will have a stand at the UKSG Forum next Friday, 15th November, at 11 Cavendish Square in London. The day is focused on library discovery technologies and will provide an excellent overview of the area, with lightning talks, an exhibition area of key discovery providers and plenty of networking time. This is a free event so we would recommend registering online as soon as possible.

Adam and I will be at the EDINA stand, number 9, and happy to talk to you about EDINA services and initiatives, including SUNCAT, The Keepers Registry and also the UK LOCKSS Alliance. We will also be very pleased to give you a demo of the new look SUNCAT, so please do take a few minutes to stop by.

 November 6, 2013  Posted by at 11:31 am News, Uncategorized 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 edina@ed.ac.uk 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 »