An electronic serial is issued with no predetermined end in machine-readable format, such as CD-ROM, floppy disk (direct access), or through the Internet (remote access).  This module covers direct access electronic serials, i.e., titles issued in a "tangible" format, such as CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMS, floppy disks, or magnetic tapes.  However, even these titles can be housed on LANs (local area networks), thereby providing for remote access.  The decision to catalog a networked optical disc as a direct access or as an online resource depends on local policies and needs.  For example, the need to identify and check-in physical units may mean that some libraries catalog a networked CD-ROM as a direct access electronic resource rather than an online resource.

Many direct access serials are abstracting and/or indexing services.  However, others are full-text journals, either individual titles or collections of titles, or some combination of full-text journals and abstracting/indexing services.  Publishing in electronic format is also rapidly expanding into other types of publications, e.g., directories, newspapers, and government documents.

In many cases, there are simultaneously issued print and electronic versions of a serial.  The publisher of the electronic version, however, need not be the same as the publisher of the print version, and, in fact, individual titles (i.e., the same content) may be issued by two or more competing publishers, e.g., Medline and ERIC.  Individual titles may also be available in different "editions/versions" for use with different hardware systems and/or operating systems (Macintosh operating system vs. Windows).

Many of these titles have licensing agreements restricting use.  For titles that cumulate, earlier issues must often be returned to the publisher or discarded as later cumulations arrive.  Retrospective discs covering earlier print issues may or may not be published, and may not necessarily by published in chronological order.

In other cases, electronic serials provide access to "current" information, such as Current Contents titles or Books in Print.  For titles that provide only "current" information, libraries lose access to historical information if earlier issues must be returned to the publisher.

A "mega" CD-ROM is another manifestation of a serial electronic resource, one in which many journals, as well as directories, dictionaries, etc., generally in a particular subject area, are included as a single publication under a collective title.

Consider a CD-ROM to be a serial and not an integrating resource, even when the CD is cumulative and only the latest is retained (LCRI 1.0 ).

See also:

Module 30.  Direct Access Electronic Serials