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Serial or Monograph?

Points to Ponder

Note: If you want to look at this issue in more depth, please consult the CONSER Cataloging Manual (CCM), Module 2, What is a serial? for further information. The CCM is available on Cataloger's Desktop. (Choose the folder labeled CONSER Documentation.) 

We follow the definition of serial that is found in AACR2:

A continuing resource issued in a succession of discrete parts, usually bearing numbering, that has no predetermined conclusion.

Successive, discrete parts When we get many parts of a continuing resource at the same time, it is easier to see them. When we get only one piece at a time, we have to look for clues.

Numbering is the most important clue. Numbering may be a volume, or a number. For annual or less-frequent serials, years are often used. 

But not everything numbered is a serial! Many government documents have a date of issuance; that doesn't automatically make them serials. Look for further internal evidence that a document has  no predetermined conclusion.

How we buy a serial doesn't affect how we catalog it. The quality of the copy and the type of publication define whether an item is a serial, not its budget code. 

How to search a serial

Be sure you omit the numbering when you search; if you have 

2002 Handbook of Mental Health for Librarians

search it as han,of,me,h not 200,ha,of,m

Many annuals have both an ISBN and an ISSN; search the ISSN, not the ISBN!



Serial or Monograph?

How to Search a Serial  

Prepared by: Naomi Young

Updated: February 6, 2006

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