Packaging eSerials for Transfer and Preservation

In my work at the Library, one of my larger projects has to do with the acquisition and preservation of eserials. By this I don’t mean access to licensed and hosted eserials, but the acquisition and preservation of eserial article files that come to the Library.

In many ways, this is just like other acquisition streams and workflows:  some specifications for the content are identified; electronic transfer mechanisms are put in place; processing includes automated and human actions including inspection, metadata extraction and enrichment, and organization; and files are moved to the appropriate storage locations.

Display of magazines for sale, Taylor, Texas. Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer.  LC-USF33- 012479-M1 [P&P]

Display of magazines for sale, Taylor, Texas. Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer. LC-USF33- 012479-M1 [P&P]

In others ways, eserials are unlike almost everything else.

They are serials and have a complex organization of files/articles/issues/volumes/titles.  There are multiple formats, content, and metadata standards in play.  Publisher often now have a very frequent article-based publishing model that includes versions and updates. And the packages of files to be transferred between and within organizations can have many formats.

My Library of Congress colleague Erik Delfino reached out to our colleagues at the National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine who operate PubMed Central, who deal with similar issues. Out of our shared interest has come a NISO working group to develop a protocol for the transfer and exchange of files called PESC – Protocol for Exchanging Serial Content. This group is co-chaired by the Library of Congress and NIH, and has representatives from publishers small and large, data normalizers and aggregators, preservation organizations, and organizations with an interest in copyright issues.

This group is making great progress identifying the scope of the problem, looking at how a variety of organizations solve the problem for their own operations, and drafting its ideas for solutions for exchange that support the effective management and preservation of serials.

If you are interested in the work, please read the Work Item description at the PESC web site, and check out who’s involved.  There will also be a brief update presented as part of the NISO standards session at ALA Midwinter on Sunday, January 26 from 1-2:30 PM in Pennsylvania Convention Center room 118 C.