Serials Binding at Iowa State University Library

Written by Cindy Wahl & Suzette Schmidt

The process of binding the serials at the Iowa State University Library starts with the retrieval of the issues from our collection.  This part of the process is done by a student employee trained and supervised by a Library Assistant.  Many of our serial publications are now housed in our Periodical Room by call number.

Periodical Reading Room at Parks Library
Serials in the Periodical Reading Room at Parks Library

The issues are passed on to the Library Assistant to check to make sure everything is included and put in the correct order for binding.  The issues are bundled together with regular rubber bands which we use at the request of the bindery.  The assistant also determines how many issues are bound together.  This process is determined by following past practice while also taking into account the size of the publications and the number of issues per volume.  If the thickness of the publications or the number published per volume has changed, the number bound together might change as we want to stay within the measurement of ¼” to 2”.

Multiple issues bound together to meet the 1/4″ minimum spine thickness set by the commercial bindery.

Some volumes are to be bound as they are received and are passed on to our Library Assistant directly from the Acquisitions Department.  These include volumes that are large enough to bind individually or volumes that have a high usage.

A serial volume large enough to be bound individually.

Issues which are too thin to go to our bindery, less than ¼”, are forwarded to our Conservation Lab for proper housing or rebinding as determined by our Conservator.

An item too thin to be sent to the commercial bindery.

After it has been determined which issues will be bound, the Library Assistant goes into our online catalog, ALEPH.  Here changes are made to our holdings records to show what is being sent to the bindery.  The new information is printed and tucked into the issues being bound and passed on for entry into our binding system.  Once every three weeks a truck comes from the bindery to pick up the issues which have been packed in totes and to deliver the previous shipment which has been bound.

Upon receipt of the newly bound serials, another Library Assistant is responsible for checking the volumes back into our catalog, reviewing them for any binding errors and forwarding them on to the appropriate department.

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