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
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!