sharing serial prediction patterns

One of the core strengths of libraries is shared standards and sharing library data. Since we migrated to Evergreen in May I’ve been doing migration cleanup, implementing acquisitions and trying to figure out serials. Setting up serial prediction patterns is ugly in any ILS because prediction patterns are ugly.

There’s a great opportunity for the open source ILS world (both the Koha and Evergreen) communities to develop a standard so that libraries using these systems can save time and money by sharing serial prediction patterns. As more academic libraries are considering migrating to Evergreen, this would also help remove a barrier to selecting Evergreen. While it’s painful and annoying for me to manually set up all of our serial prediction patterns, I work in a small library, so it’s still possible. There’s only about 150. For a large university library it would not be possible set up a prediction pattern for each title.

Examples of serial prediction patterns

Can you guess what these prediction patterns describe?

  • Published Monday , Saturday, except for Christmas Day. Issues are identified by date. (daily newspaper in most cities)
  • Published weekly on Thursday, except for a double issue in the last two weeks of December. Issues are numbered continuously and four volumes are published annually, starting in Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct (The Economist)
  • Published twice monthly, except monthly in Jan, Jul, Aug, Dec. Issue numbers restart in each volume, which starts in Jan (Library Journal)

None of these are terribly complicated and yet they are still pretty messy. Thanks to David Fiander for letting me pinch these examples from his slides.

What’s a serial prediction pattern? Who cares?

Scholarly journals/magazines/periodicals/newspapers are published on different schedules. For example, some are published weekly, monthly, bimonthly, quarterly or yearly. There are also cataloguing codes for semiregularly, 3 times a year, biennial, triennial, and completely irregular.

In academic libraries it’s important to know if the library has a specific issue of a title, as users are most often looking for a specific article in a specific issue of a title. Generally, in public libraries this level of detail is not necessary. However, if libraries shared these prediction patterns perhaps more public libraries might use them.

Prediction patterns are also used to figure out which issues of a title should have arrived but haven’t. Libraries can then claim the missing issues with the vendor or directly with the publisher. (As an aside, I think journal claiming is a silly process that involves a lot of correspondence that doesn’t often end up in the issue being replaced. Some libraries are giving up on claiming for each issue.) Still, it’s important for both the user and the library to know which issues are missing in a run.

If serial prediction patterns interests you I highly recommend watching David’s webinar from 2009 on this topic.

What’s information is included in a serial prediction pattern?

There’s a bunch of information in a MFHD record, namely:


  • Hierarchy of enumeration, for example volume, issue, number, part (can have up to 6 levels in the hierarchy)
  • Does the numbering restart? If so, when?


  • How often does the title come? weekly? monthly? 4 times a year?
  • Are there exceptions to this pattern? If so, what are they?

Pattern (both publication and enumeration)

  • When is the journal published?
  • What publications will be omitted?
  • What issues will be combined?

Next steps

I’m not really sure what the next steps are. I think the open source ILS communities are best positioned to tackle this and figure out a standard way of sharing prediction patterns. We might want to talk to serials and cataloguing experts, like perhaps the folks at CONSER or NASIG. Perhaps it would be useful to talk to folks at OCLC or NISO. We might want to look outside the libraryland–what other industries are sharing information about odd, picky, sometimes irregular patterns? How are they doing things and what can we learn?

I’ll be presenting on this topic at the Evergreen conference next week and want to explore some next steps with people. I’ll be copresenting with Grace Dunbar and Mike Rylander from Equinox Software on Resource Sharing in Evergreen on Friday, April 27th from 3-4pm



I’m underwhelmed by SirsiDynix’s iPhone app, BookMyne.

First, I don’t see the point of this app.

BookMyne allows you to add more than one library that is using a SirsiDynix product (and is paying for Web Services) to your list of libraries. The GPS in the phone can identify where you are, and you can either search for libraries using proximity (from 10 to 300 miles) or using an interface that looks like Google Earth. You can then do a keyword search of one library in this list, and put a hold on an item, or renew your books.

I can’t think of a use case where you would need to add more than one SirsiDynix library to your phone. Perhaps if you had kids that went to a school where the library was using a SirsiDynix product, and your public library was also using a SirsiDynix product? Both the public library and school library would need to be paying extra for Web Services and have their libraries set up to access through this app. Currently there are no libraries in British Columbia using this. Granted, it was only added to the app store earlier this week, but still…

Someone from a special library asked if it was possible to restrict the app to one library as it would be a way for a library to market their services and collection on the iPhone. The sales representative replied that it wasn’t. This made me think that this app is more about marketing the vendor than it is about marketing our libraries to our users.

Second, the functionality is disappointing. For almost everything on my iPhone, I’m able to pinch to zoom in and out, and if I turn my phone from being vertical to horizontal the screen also flips. When I did a catalog search the titles were getting cut off This is standard functionality that I expect on my phone. Both of these things are missing from BookMyne.

Third, Bookmyne doesn’t meet my expectations of how things should look and work on my phone. I like the clean and elegant interface of the iPhone and the clean and elegant design of apps.A   It took me several minutes to figure out how to find and add a library so that I could search. I noticed that I wasn’t alone–a few other iPhone toting Systems and IT folks had puzzled looks on their faces while poking at their phones.

The SirsiDynix sales representative kept repeating how innovative this application was. The iPhone has been around for about 3 years now, so marketing an iPhone app as innovative struck me as slightly delusional.

The press release (PDF) quotes Talin Bingham, the CTO as saying that “BookMyneA ® provides meaningful patron interaction with their library, which is one of the fundamental objectives that drives all development at SirsiDynix”. I don’t see how BookMyne provides meaningful patrpn interaction.

Instead of an iPhone app, I’d rather see improvements made to the OPAC so that it displays and works better on all smart phones, or an API so that libraries can develop their own apps to market their libraries to their communities. This would be better than a pointless, ugly iPhone app that doesn’t quite work, and seems to market the vendor, not the library.

Beyond the blindfold at Greater Victoria Regional Library

Avi and Leah with the blindfolded mannequin

Avi Silberstein, the Outreach Librarian for Greater Victoria Regional Library describes their provocative and engaging Freedom to Read Week display.

We thought it would be fun to have a mannequin , blindfolded , at the entrance to the library.   So we made a few phone calls and visited a few stores, and after some persistence were able to convince the owner of a local consignment shop to loan us a mannequin.

We picked out a mannequin that was lying on her stomach with her hands near her face, dressed her up in clothes from the consignment store, and propped a book up in her hands.   Then we tied on a blindfold.   We put her up on a table, and filled an adjacent table with banned/challenged books.   We also made sure to put up some signage explaining the display and that the books were there to be borrowed.

The response we received was overwhelmingly positive.   Patrons loved it, staff loved it, and more than anything it got people to stop in their tracks and walk up to the display for a closer look.

Filed under: events Tagged: display, freedom to read week, library