31.1.1.  What is a remote access electronic serial?

A remote access electronic serial is a continuing resource that is accessed "via computer networks."  It is issued in a succession of discrete parts usually bearing numbering, and has no predetermined conclusion (AACR2).  This is in contrast to a direct access electronic resource which is issued on a physical carrier such as CD-ROM, floppy disk or diskette.  The terms "electronic serial," "e-serial," "online serial," and "remote access serial" are used in this text interchangeably for serials issued on the World Wide Web, via email, ftp, etc.  (See also CCM 31.2 for distinguishing serials and integrating resources).

Though many online serials are "born-digital," created and existing only in a digital format, the majority of electronic serials cataloged by CONSER libraries are online versions of print publications available on the World Wide Web.  Online versions are made available by many providers, including publishers, aggregators, distributors, vendors, secondary publishers, and libraries involved in digitization projects.  (The term "providers" will be used throughout this text to refer to the broad range of organizations that provide digitized text of print serials).  In 2003, CONSER changed its policy on record creation for titles offered in multiple provider packages and developed the concept of the "aggregator-neutral record."  Guidelines for creating aggregator-neutral records are intended to be applicable to creating a record for any e-serial, including those that don't have a print equivalent and free serials that aren't part of a commercial aggregation (e.g., government documents).

A further discussion of the background and goals of the aggregator-neutral record appears in CCM 31.2.3b.  Information to include or exclude in the aggregator-neutral record is specified throughout this module under field by field instructions.  Guidelines for the aggregator-neutral record and CCM citations for specific fields are given in a table in 31.2.3b.

31.1.2.  Why catalog online serials with AACR2 and MARC 21?

Institutions use several methods to provide access to electronic serials; one method is to create AACR2/MARC 21 records for online serials in the OPAC.  Other methods include A-Z listings of electronic resources and links to article and citation databases through link resolvers.  New products and tools are evolving and institutions often use a combination of these, including OPAC records, to provide access to digitized content.

Providing records for online versions of a resource in the OPAC is a way to allow users to find all related formats of the resource (e.g., print, CD-ROM, and online) in one place.  OPAC users can find related records for a resource that has changed from print to online when both are cataloged.  Searching for resources in the OPAC is enhanced with controlled name, series, and subject headings provided by catalogers.  Links between OPAC records, serials management systems, citation databases and linking services enhance browsing of contents and delivery of journal articles.  Since commercially packaged resources require subscription fees, it's appropriate to create bibliographic records associated with holdings and library acquisition records in order to track expenditures.

This module describes current CONSER policies for giving access to an online serial through a catalog record.  Basic steps for providing access are:

Determine if the resource is a serial, integrating resource, or monograph.

Decide whether the single record approach or a separate catalog record approach will be used.

If a separate record is used, determine and record the basic bibliographic information in order to accurately identify and describe the serial.

Determine the access points needed for retrieval of the catalog record.

Determine and record the means by which the serial itself can be accessed online.

31.1.3.  Electronic reproductions

LCRI 1.11A , issued in 2000, allows a library to use a record for the print version to clone a new record for the reproduction, similar to the approach used for reproduction microforms.  In 2002, CONSER members voted to implement provisions of LCRI 1.11A when an electronic item is clearly a reproduction according to the LCRI.  In-house digitizations and digitized sets of older serials, such as the American Periodical Series are examples of when this RI could reasonably be applied.

Making distinctions between simultaneous "versions" and "reproductions" is sometimes difficult with digitized print serials.  The LCRI describes reproductions as "usually made for such reasons as the original’s limited availability, remote location, poor condition, high cost, or restricted utility."  In case of doubt whether or not a resource is a reproduction, the LCRI says not to consider it a reproduction.

Until further guidelines are developed (for example, the question of whether or not to use a uniform title for electronic reproductions of serials is being considered), CONSER members are generally not making distinctions between digital reproductions and simultaneous versions.  Except in limited cases, CONSER treats remote electronic format serials as simultaneous versions and bases the description on the version itself.

31.1.4.  Multiple document formats and access methods

Electronic serials may be issued in different "file" or "document" formats in order to meet the needs of users.  Many online serials provide an HTML version to enhance online viewing and a PDF format to provide high quality printouts of articles.  Graphic, sound, and video files may also be included as a part of an e-serial.  A serial may be available in one, all, or a combination of these formats, and over time, the available formats may change.

According to CONSER policy, do not create separate records for a serial offered in different file formats.  CONSER policy is to create one record and make notes on file format; for common formats (HTML, XML, PDF) omit format information from the bibliographic description.  For unusual file formats, see CCM 31.14.3.

Some online serials are available through multiple access methods, e-mail and simultaneously through the Web for example, or simultaneously from multiple Web sites.  These multiple access methods and locations are recorded on the same record in multiple 856 fields.  See CCM 31.15 for further information on recording location information in the 856 field.

See also:

Module 31.  Remote Access Electronic Serials (Online Serials)