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RDS@UF: Serial or Monograph?

Resource Description Services department procedures and policies

Serial or Monograph?

Updated by Hank Young, January 2019

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 RDA:

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. 

Not everything with successive enumeration 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.  **Note: With the change to RDA, some items with a predetermined conclusion, such as annual or quarterly reports of a 5-year plan, or a grant-funded project which is assumed to end when the grant runs out, are now considered to be serials.
NOTE: Consult RDA 1.1.3 and CCM 2.1.3: Other resources treated as serials

Publications of limited duration

  1. Reprints of serials
  2. Resources that lack numbering
    1. When the publisher fails to supply numbering on the first issue, but later begins to supply numbering, the cataloger may give the first issue a form of numbering following the subsequent numbering.
    2. When the publication date or date of coverage is not present and a chronological designation is appropriate to identify the issue.
    3. When a chronological date is not appropriate, [No. 1-] may be given.

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 the item 2002 Handbook of Mental Health for Librarians, you would search it as:

scan ti:Handbook of mental health for librarians


scan ti:2002 Handbook of Mental Health for Librarians.

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

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