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    Why Using Identifiers is Important for Delivery and Discovery

    ISSNs and ISBNs are the most commonly used library standards to identify serial and monograph content, and are a required data element in the library community. In order to improve both linking and record quality, as well as increase traffic to providers’ platforms, as many identifiers as possible should be provided in vendors’ title lists and MARC records.


    Identifiers & Linking

    ISSNs and ISBNs are a key element in OpenURL link resolvers, with missing or inaccurate identifiers a main cause of article/chapter-level linking failures in Discovery services (Primo, Summon). Overall, missing identifiers limit search and linking functionality, and therefore can reduce the chance that users will access vendors’ serial and monograph content.

    Inclusion of both print and online identifiers in provider metadata is recommended for linking whenever possible. Though it is true that most content providers associate their online content with electronic identifiers, there are still numerous occasions on which a print identifier is stored as part of the article/book metadata. In such a scenario, once the print identifier is sent to the link resolver, since the provider record doesn’t have the information necessary for matching the OpenURL metadata, it simply wouldn’t be found. The end result is that the provider platform wouldn’t be offered to the end user as a full-text option.

    Record Quality

    ISSNs and ISBNs are also used a match point in both Ex Libris Knowledgebases (Alma CZ and 360 KB), in order to bridge the gap between title list holdings and full MARC records. If that match point is not available, libraries are much less likely to get full/rich MARC records, which in turn reduces discoverability. If a rich record is not made available because of the lack of identifier, users will just see the very brief record (title, imprint, author) and portfolio-level linking information.

    Since identifier metadata is also used in Ex Libris Knowledgebases to merge portfolios together, lack of ISBNs or ISSNs is, in addition, a likely cause of duplication of brief records. Duplications are an area that Knowledgebase customers frequently ask for corrections and merging. (It can also possibly cause lack of access for library users, as a multitude of similar, brief results may increase confusion, and lessen the chance that users will click on a provider’s content.)

    Overall, missing data from bibliographic records is probably the most commonly reported issue from Knowledgebase customers. For the Alma Community Zone and 360 MARC, librarians use these records to enrich their own catalogs. Missing information, especially important ones such as identifiers, is often manually added back in. If records are missing either online or print identifiers, it’s very likely that the library community might prefer to use other records.

    Additional Notes

    Standardized identifiers on the volume-level are especially important for conference proceedings:

    “Standardization of metadata for conference proceedings needs special attention. Since conference proceedings are a hybrid of a serial and a monograph, the metadata should include information for the serial title as well as information on the volume level, and a connection needs to be made between the serial and the volume. The connection between a conference proceeding volume and its parent serial title is important because many conference proceedings include hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of volumes and span decades. Without this connection, these volumes cannot be grouped together.” (NISO RP-9-2014, KBART Phase II Recommended Practice)


    • Article last edited: 21-Aug-2019
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