Home 9 Against the Grain 9 v29 #4 Biz of Acq — Going Green at a Library Near You. Transitioning from Print to Electronic Resources at the University of Baltimore Law Library

v29 #4 Biz of Acq — Going Green at a Library Near You. Transitioning from Print to Electronic Resources at the University of Baltimore Law Library

by | Sep 26, 2017 | 0 comments

by Mary Elizabeth Murtha  (Serials Management Librarian, University of Baltimore Law Library, 1401 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201;  Phone: 410-837-4378;  Fax: 410-837-4656) 

Column Editor:  Michelle Flinchbaugh  (Acquisitions and Digital Scholarship Services Librarian, Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250;  Phone: 410-455-6754;  Fax: 410-455-1598) 


The University of Baltimore is one of seventeen campuses that makes up the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions (USMAI) consortium.  The current John and Francis Angelos Law Center officially opened its doors on April 16, 2013.  This twelve-story 190,000 square foot law center houses a 300-seat moot courtroom, event space on the twelfth floor, fifteen classrooms, faculty and staff offices, and all of its law clinics and centers.  The law library occupies 30,000 square feet, and is spread across six floors.  The law library contains 29 study rooms and more than 450 seats.  Students can find study space on each floor.  Students can also find tables or study carrels with power outlets and conference rooms on each floor to promote learning and interaction.  Like many academic libraries, the law library has been undergoing a transition from print to electronic format for a number of years in response to a smaller operating budget and the popularity of the digital format.

The University of Baltimore Law Library began this transition with cancelling most print journals and relying on the electronic equivalent through Hein Online (a database that consists of law and law related full-text periodicals) to reduce duplication of resources and to save the library money.  The same applies to titles we receive through West (legal publications) and Lexis Nexis (legal publications) — select print subscriptions were also cancelled.  Preparing for the move into the new law building was also occurring during this time.  The current building offers more open space, and less shelf space, which enabled the law library to discard more than half of the collection, reducing our collection from 172,000 volumes to around 60,000 volumes at the time of the move.  These discards were titles that were no longer being updated including journals.  Our print journal collection was reduced from approximately 30,000 to around 1,500 volumes at the time of the move.  We donated thousands of volumes of journals to another university, including book titles.


Looking for ways to enhance our collection, the law library wanted to add MARC records for treatises for three major legal publication vendors (Bloomberg BNA, Lexis, and Westlaw) for easier access to each platform.  We submitted an inquiry about loading MARC records beginning with Bloomberg BNA (Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs) materials.  Our cataloger contacted the Bloomberg BNA representative who sent us files of records for the five Bloomberg BNA electronic collections that we chose to add to our catalog.  We contacted CLAS (who is USMAI’s Consortial Library Application Support team) for guidance along with instructions on how to request the load of bibliographic records.  CLAS requested that we send files for Bloomberg BNA materials to a Drop Box that they set up.  We were sent tailored instructions on how to edit using Marc Edit.  We used this program and edited the records and then sent them to CLAS to set up the loads.  We teamed up with the University of Maryland Law Library to share records for Bloomberg BNA, Westlaw and Lexis.


While we were planning, we factored in some challenges that may occur during the process and researched other libraries experiences with transitioning from print to electronic.

According to Rebecca Mugridge and Jeff Edmunds (2012), many libraries face challenges when it comes to managing batch loading activities.  Batch loading will increase with more and more records being made available electronically.  Challenges libraries face are ongoing with bibliographic maintenance, and finding funds for record purchase and local tech support.  These are important factors to take into consideration.  Wu and Mitchell (2012) from the University of Houston state that the problem for catalogers is workflow because it’s difficult to manage because of the unpredictability of vendor record quality.  Martin and Mundle (2010), cataloging Springer eBook collections at the University of Illinois Chicago found problems with using vendor-supplied marc records: poor record quality, loading problems, and access problems.  They came to the conclusion that while vendor records may be provided at no charge, there are costs that are incurred in staff time and effort to revise records.  Communication and planning are essential to ensure workflows are designed in advance of eBook acquisitions.  

According to Carol Montgomery (2000), Drexel University only purchased the electronic version of journals and cancelled the corresponding print publication to cut down on costs.  According to Mugridge and Edmunds (2012), maintaining consistent record quality can be problematic.  Libraries have to keep in mind some key issue such as the source of the bibliographic records, whether or not they can be batch processed, whether or not to combine print and online holdings on the same records, what modifications will need to be done to bibliographic records and how to maintain these records.  Ongoing updates can add extra work to Technical Services departments.  Grigson (2012) mentions that ongoing challenges include keeping up with updates to eBook collections, deleting records, collections that have not been renewed, as well as inadequate bibliographic records.


Bloomberg BNA sends out periodic newsletters with new Marc records that have been added, updated, and deleted.  The University of Baltimore Law Library chose to have marc records loaded for the five electronic collections from Bloomberg BNA including BNA Books, BNA Law Reports, American Bankruptcy Institute, Practicing Law Institute, and Wiley Books.  Using the procedures given to us by CLAS, our cataloger as well as our Serials Management Librarian sat down together to work through files using Marc Edit to edit records and add these to the Drop Box that was set up by CLAS.  CLAS does batch loading of records into Aleph test module where the records can be looked at and tested to see if links are accessible, along with reviewing how they display in the catalog.  Once CLAS is given the go-ahead, the records are loaded into Aleph live where they are accessible to students and faculty.  Further clean-up may be necessary once records are loaded into the live system.  This includes manually adding and deleting records that were either no longer available or had ceased publication.  We have gone through the process a few times now with updating records for Bloomberg BNA titles, along with removing links that do not work for certain titles.  We also deleted records that were either no longer available or have ceased publication.  CLAS added bibliographic marc records as well as holding and item records.  We went through and identified which records needed to be edited.  In collaboration with the University of Maryland Law Library, we have just recently added approximately 8,200 Marc records for Westlaw and Lexis Advance treatises.  In adding these titles, we hope that it makes doing research easier and more effective.

Challenges and Opportunities

The recent use of vendor supplied records has also had its own challenges.  Members from UB Law Library Collection and Database Services department contacted the representative from Bloomberg BNA to have files of Marc records sent that are already included in databases we subscribe to.  Accessing files that were sent from the vendor proved to be a challenge, but we worked with CLAS and got the issues resolved.  In the beginning holdings were loaded without items, but with the implementation of EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), titles are harder to access without item records attached, so we asked CLAS to add item records to electronic titles.  We also needed to decide how we wanted these records to display in the catalog.  We decided to replace call numbers with a “Click on Find It” note in its place.  The solution to the problem?  To load items with the OPAC note “Click on Find It.”


There are two major trends in modern librarianship.  First, like many academic libraries, the law library has been undergoing a transition from print to electronic format for a number of years in response to a smaller operating budget and the popularity of the digital format.  The current building gave the library the opportunity to accelerate the print-to-digital transition.  Second, as the learning needs and expectations of students and faculty have changed so has the design of learning spaces, where the law library is no longer a “place” with its printed materials.  As Michael Loder points out in his 2010 College and Research Libraries article, “Libraries with a Future: How are Academic Library Usage and Green Demands Changing Building Designs?” it is paramount for modern library spaces to be designed for users rather than books.


Clement Chu-Sing Lau and Mary Elizabeth Murtha, “Going Green and Repurposing Space: UB debuts its new law center slated to receive LEED Platinum Certification,” AALL: Spectrum, May 2013 23-24.

Carol Hansen Montgomery, (2000) “Fast Track Transition to an Electronic Journal Collection: a case study,” New Library World, Vol.101 No.1159, pp.294-302.

Kristen E. Martin and Kavita Mundle, “Notes on Operations Cataloging E-books and Vendor Records: a case study at the University of Illinois Chicago,” Library Resource and Technical Services, Vol.54 No.4 pp.227-237.

Rebecca L. Mugridge and Jeff Edmunds, (2012) “Batch loading MARC Bibliographic Records: Current Practices and Future Challenges in Large Research Libraries,” Library Resources and Technical Services Vol. 56 No.3 pp.155-170.  



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