21.1.1.  Explanation of record modifications

Serial record modifications cover all changes to existing records.  This involves the addition of information that extends the coverage of a record, or improves the accuracy of the record, or updates the record to current cataloging policies, or simply makes the record more complete.  Serial records often need to be modified because serial publications often change over time.  The deletion of information deemed to be inaccurate or better covered on an alternate record, including the deletion of a duplicate record, is also covered in this module as record modification.

21.1.2.  Cooperative cataloging

Information in records created by CONSER members is accepted by other members unless the information is clearly erroneous.  Due to changes in cataloging standards and policies, the potential for serial record modification is endless.  Catalogers working cooperatively in a common database must accept inconsistencies with current treatment when publications are under adequate  bibliographic control.  This has become more important as the database increasingly includes records that were authenticated many years ago and have been used in members’ local systems and files.  Records that were accurately input when they were created are significantly modified (e.g., consolidated, converted, choice of entry changed) only when there is a clear practical need.  When questions arise, CONSER catalogers routinely consult with one another to determine the appropriate action.  (See CEG B1.7. )

The usefulness of the CONSER database is dependent on the degree to which the authoritativeness of CONSER records can be ascertained.  An authenticated record is accepted as authoritative according to its level of authentication and record level.  In the CEG C2, "Participant Authentication," record authentication is fully explained.  CONSER records include the essential elements which are "technically correct, adhering to the appropriate rules, interpretations, and coding guidelines."  The CEG establishes the policies and practices to which the members collectively agree.  CONSER records are clearly marked for the cataloging community (bibliographic level (leader/07) "s", fields 010 and 042) which facilitates other libraries' use of the records.

Cooperation is key to CONSER's effective operation.  Program catalogers work together to build and maintain a common serials database.  Through program meetings, consultations with catalogers, online discussions, and other encounters, program catalogers solve problems, resolve bibliographic conflicts, and address complex serials cataloging issues in a cooperative manner.  The CONSER Operations Committee has developed as the operational backbone for the program, and the Library of Congress provides support for catalogers throughout the program through CONSER Program staff and serials catalogers in the Serial Record Division.

21.1.3.  Modifying "national level" records

The CONSER database exists as a subset of the group of serial records in OCLC’s WorldCat system.  CONSER members function as "serial enhance" catalogers in OCLC and are able to modify virtually any serial record in OCLC ( FN 2).  CONSER catalogers regularly modify CONSER and non-CONSER records in OCLC and some of the CONSER maintenance requirements involve related records that may not be authenticated by a CONSER cataloger (see 21.1.4 below).  Other OCLC members are limited as to the extent to which they can replace existing serial records in OCLC and are restricted from modifying CONSER records.  In this sense, the ability to modify records enables CONSER to have perhaps its greatest impact on the bibliographic database.

CONSER recognizes its special role in modifying serial records in OCLC and has developed specific membership categories for modifying records.  Affiliate membership was established in 1988 to allow commercial services to enrich serial records in OCLC chiefly by adding A&I  (Abstracting & Indexing), subscription, and publishing information.  In 1996, CONSER Enhance  membership was created to enable various kinds of institutions to modify serial records in OCLC as other CONSER members do.

Restrictions come with these responsibilities.  The CONSER Editing Guide documents restrictions and notification requirements for the modification of LC, LAC, and NSDP records (CEG  C3 , C6 , C12 ).

21.1.4.  CONSER maintenance requirements

Maintenance requirements are outlined in CEG B4 , "Record Maintenance."  The "latest issue consulted" note is used when updating a record and is mandatory if applicable (CEG B6 ).  Other changes identified as "mandatory" or "required if available" for record maintenance are the following:

Correcting obvious errors

Changes affecting main entry and/or title proper, including:

Changes resulting in a new record

Changes to elements used in the 130 field of an existing record

Changes pertaining to the title proper but not requiring a new record

"Closing-off" existing records when a title change occurs

Publication status code

Ending date of publication (fixed field element is completed)

Date of publication of last issue

Designation of last issue or note relating to last issue

Changes affecting other access points, including:

Series changes recorded in fields 4XX and 8XX

Responsible entities recorded in fields 550 and 7XX

6XX subject fields

Preceding and succeeding entries (fields 780 and 785)

Frequency and regularity data in the fixed field (006/01-02 or 008/18-19)

21.1.5.  Correcting errors

CEG B4.1 , "Correcting Obvious Errors," specifies members' responsibilities for correcting errors in CONSER records.  It is emphasized that what appears to be incorrect is not always so.  Program members are also encouraged to make certain corrections to unauthenticated records when errors are encountered in the course of the cataloger’s work, particularly those that affect record access.  CONSER catalogers are not obligated to fully review authenticated records that are used or modified in the course of their work.

21.1.6.  Other significant changes based on local needs

CONSER has established a basic set of maintenance requirements for its members (as indicated above) which represents only a fraction of the range of modifications that are regularly performed by CONSER catalogers.  Many libraries establish additional maintenance requirements for processing serials.

This module does not cover the practice of making local modifications to meet institution-specific needs rather than recording the changes on the national record in OCLC.  CONSER members generally limit the extent to which this occurs since the more work is performed locally, the less it is shared, and the efficiencies of the cooperative effort are diminished.

See also:

Module 21.  Modifying Records