SUNCAT Blog

SUNCAT is the Serials Union CATalogue for the UK research community.

SUNCAT is a free EDINA service enabling researchers, librarians and others to locate serials held in libraries throughout the UK. The catalogue contains information on both print and electronic serials, including journals, periodicals, newspapers, newsletters, magazines, annual reports and other publications of a continuing nature.

SUNCAT currently contains serials' information from over 70 UK research libraries, including the British Library and the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales. New libraries continue to be added to the catalogue on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

SUNCAT blog now on WordPress

The SUNCAT blog has now been transferred to WordPress. This Blogger instance is no longer being updated. To keep up-to-date with SUNCAT news go to the new SUNCAT blog. Please update your bookmarks to the new address (http://suncat.blogs.edina.ac.uk/). The feed address remains the same (http://feeds.feedburner.com/SuncatBlog).

Thursday, 20 June 2013

SUNCAT updated

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

  • Birmingham University (22 May 13)
  • CONSER (12 Jun 13)
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (10 Jun 13)
  • Exeter University (07 Jun 13)
  • NERC: Natural Environment Research Council (03 Jun 13)
  • Robert Gordon University (03 Jun 13)
  • Royal College of Nursing (04 Jun 13)
  • Royal Society of Medicine (04 Jun 13)
  • Sheffield Hallam University (20 May 13)
  • Strathclyde University (21 May 13)
  • Sussex University (03 Jun 13)
  • Swansea University (15 Jun 13)
  • York University (05 Jun 13)
To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

Friday, 14 June 2013

SUNCAT updated

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

  • Aberystwyth University (15 May 13)
  • CONSER (05 Jun 13)
  • Dundee University (03 Jun 13)
  • Kent University (01 Jun 13)
  • London School of Economics and Political Science (07 May 13)
  • National Library of Scotland (03 Jun 13)
  • Nottingham University (03 Jun 13)
  • Oxford University (24 May 13)
  • Southampton University (02 Jun 13)
  • Swansea University (15 May 13)
To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

Friday, 7 June 2013

UK Survey of Academics: implications for SUNCAT

Whilst it is the norm for services such as SUNCAT to carry out an annual survey (reports are here) of users and their use of the service, it is also most important for those running such services to be aware of how users (actual and potential) approach resource discovery generally.  The report entitled UK Survey of Academics 2012 ,funded by Jisc and RLUK and carried out by Ithaka S+R, is therefore of considerable interest.  The report details the findings from a survey of a sample of UK academic staff with just under 3,500 responses received.
One chapter, of particular significance from a SUNCAT perspective, is that entitled Providing materials to academics: formats and sources.  One most interesting finding is:

“In the case of journal collections, about half of all respondents–slightly more in the arts and humanities than in other fields–strongly agreed that they “often would like to use journal articles that are not in [their] library’s print or digital collections.”
(P.38)

Given that SUNCAT’s principal raison d’ĂȘtre is to provide information on the serials’ holdings (print and digital) of major research libraries (there are currently 90 Contributing Libraries) this makes welcome reading.  Of some worry, though, is the response that, when locating information at the outset of research: 

“Overall, the largest share of respondents–about 40%–indicated that they begin their research processes at a general purpose search engine on the internet or world wide web. A slightly smaller share–about one-third of respondents–indicated that they begin their research at a specific electronic research resource/computer database. A relatively smaller share–slightly less than 15% each–of respondents reported starting with an online library catalogue or a national or international catalogue or database”.  (p.21)

For a service such as SUNCAT it is vital for all potential users to know it exists and what facilities it provides.  SUNCAT is assisted in alerting users to the existence of the service by information provided on institutional websites and EDINA is very grateful to the many institutions who have promoted the service in this way.  To assist library staff, a leaflet outlining specific ways some organisations had promoted the service was distributed in 2011 and proved to be a useful source of information.  We will be looking anew at the information in the leaflet and updating it where appropriate.  We will also be looking at other ways of promoting the service and bringing it to the attention of potential users and would, of course, welcome any suggestions on ways we might consider. 
There was another response in the report of considerable interest to SUNCAT.

Roughly 3 out of 5 respondents indicated that they often or occasionally use library-provided inter-library loan or document delivery services to access journal articles and monographs. (p.39)

The importance of serving inter-library loan staff has long been recognised.  In the recent survey for the provision of feedback on the new interface  there were requests for the inclusion of British Library Codes and email addresses.  BL Codes will be made available in the initial release of the service and it is hoped to provide the email addresses in a future release of the software.

The report, therefore, is of much interest to SUNCAT.  Whilst it does reinforce some of the reasons for the establishment of the service in the first place, it also is a prompt to us to review our promotional activities to try and ensure that all who might have reason to use the service know about its existence.

SUNCAT updated

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

  • Aberdeen University (01 Apr 13)
  • Bradford University (07 May 13)
  • CONSER(29 May 13)
  • Durham University (22 May 13) 
  • Edinburgh University (21 May 13)
  • Essex University (03 May 13)
  • Hull University (24 Apr 13)
  • ISSN (16 May 13)
  • Leicester University (24 May 13)
  • Manchester University (21 May 13)
  • National Art Library (16 May 13)
  • Natural History Museum (25 May 13)
  • Queen Mary, University of London (15 May 13)
  • School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London (15 May 13)
  • Southampton University (26 May 13)
  • University College London (07 May 13)
  • Zoological Society of London (30 May 13)
To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

Summer weird and wonderful titles

Summer is here at last, though not today in Edinburgh! Take a look at some of the weird and wonderful titles we have in SUNCAT.

  • Ally Sloper’s summer number.
  • Annual report of summer tent and open air campaign.
  • Bus enthusiast summer special.
  • The ’Pink ’un’ summer annual, 1913, ed. by W.F. De Wend Fenton. More nuts in a nutshell.
  • Report of the Men of the Trees Summer School and Conference ... 1938 [etc.].
  • Spring into summer.
  • The summer hog outlook.
  • Summer grilling.
  • The summer sheep and wool outlook.
  • Worzel Gummidge summer special.
  • The Alps : (A magazine of light literature and useful information for the summer tourist).
  • Machine knitting news. Summer tops collection.
  • Summer salt :
  • Hello! : this is sunny Rhyl.

For more serials with a summer theme and other weird and wonderful search SUNCAT.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

SUNCAT Redevelopment Feedback Survey Report

We made a preview version of the new service available at UKSG in early April and just closed this off a few weeks ago. During this period we put up an online survey and encouraged emails to the EDINA helpdesk to ask our users for their views on the functionality and ease of use of the redeveloped service. A full report is now available on our website.

Overall, the response was very positive and any significant issues which were raised, EDINA were already aware of and are currently busy trying to resolve for the next release, due this autumn. Over 70% of the respondents reported that the preview service was better than the current service and we hope to improve this figure further as we iron out the glitches.

“Very bold design, clear and simple. A great improvement. Will encourage use of the service.”


We are happy that the vast majority of respondents found that the basic search facility was easy to use, 89%, and that the newly introduced post-search filters were found to be useful to 83% of respondents. Respondents reported that both the pre and post search filters would be good tools for reducing large result sets and filtering out holdings which might not be of interest, e.g. electronic or print holdings.

“Having the basic phrases in the first drop down box allows an easy search but also one that can still be refined without having to go to advanced search. Limiting locations and institutions is useful, especially for us as a public library as we know a number of locations will not lend so we can limit to those that do.”

Some respondents reported issues related to the display of the results list and the advanced search and work is on-going to resolve these. We were already aware that the Exact Title search was a little too exact – requiring exact matching on punctuation and letter case! Further, the relevancy ranking was not always working as expected, so these are another two areas we are currently concentrating on getting optimised.

The feedback received has been extremely useful in confirming areas we had concerns about and so helping us to prioritise immediate fixes for the next release, while also highlighting other interesting suggestions we can investigate for future releases.