|Abstract:||In ancient Greece King Augeas was the ruler of Elis who had difficulties
with his housekeeping. By skillful attention to an acquisition program with his
bulls zestfully engaged in their own activities, he had managed to accumulate
immense herds, but somehow never got around to cleaning his stables. By the
time Hercules was given the task of policing the area, the Augean
establishment was overflowing with thirty years of deposit collections.
Good King Augeas and his stables kept returning to mind as I
considered my topic for this paper: the problems of arranging and servicing a
large serial collection. Even more than other aspects of libraries, the serial and
periodical collections present a vast and seemingly immmovable presence.
Once processed, our busy attention to them, like that of Augeas, has often
been diverted elsewhere. Unfortunately, while Hercules had the River Alpheus
to help him cleanse the stables, our torrent of proliferating periodicals and
serials pours in at a new flood level each year and never runs out again!
Being no Hercules, I have concentrated on only a few considerations of
serial service in our Augean establishments that seem to me to warrant special
First, let me try to assuage the feelings of those who have already
reacted to my implication that librarians have not been handling periodicals as
well as they might. I have no doubt librarians' hearts are Herculean in the
desire to be of service, but their attempts have, as yet, not been overly
effective. I say as yet because there are current developments which promise
help, some of which librarians have initiated, and many of which they must
begin to more actively investigate and try.