CONSER records may be created at three levels: full, core, or minimal.  Most records are created at the full or core level; minimal level cataloging is generally used only for resources of little research value, backlogs, etc.  A complete listing of which elements are required for each level is contained in Section B6 of the CONSER Editing Guide.  This discussion will focus on how these levels interact with the cataloging code and CONSER practices.

AACR2 includes three levels of description in rule 1.0D.  Unfortunately, these are not equivalents to minimal, core and full!  But there is some similarity.  Records created at level 1 or the CONSER minimal level standard contain only the most essential descriptive data elements.  An added dimension of the CONSER minimal level record is that name authority work and subject/classification elements are not required.  Level 2 in AACR2 is far more complete than level 1; however, the CONSER core level has the same complement of descriptive elements as the CONSER minimal level record.  The primary difference between the core and minimal records is the presence of authoritative headings and subject elements.  Thus, AACR2 level 2 is more equivalent to CONSER full level.  (See also CCM 1.2.2f. concerning inclusion or omission of detail when describing a serial.)  Level 3 in AACR2 is primarily used for rare materials and includes all applicable data elements and more specific details.

The instructions in the CONSER Cataloging Manual do not, for the most part, specifically address how each area of the record is constructed according to the potential levels of description.  Some exceptions are made, however, where it has been considered beneficial to point out that a certain data element is not required in core records (e.g., notes that justify added entries).

The challenge for a beginning cataloger in using AACR2, is that the code is quite neutral on what should be included.  If the code was read literally, a cataloger might feel that all possible notes would have to be created.  Of course, this is not the case!  Thus, the cataloger can use the CONSER record standards as guides in determining what is an acceptable level of description for most serials.  Depending on institutional policies, the cataloger can choose the level of description that will be most appropriate for any one serial.

See also:

Module 1.  Introduction to Serials Cataloging