Serials are a challenge to describe because usually, at the time of cataloging, most of the issues have yet to be published!  Because a cataloger cannot predict the future, the description is based primarily on a single issue, even though there may be several issues in hand at the time of cataloging.  If, however, a record is regularly updated by a CONSER participant as changes occur, the record is likely to reflect much more than the single issue.  The first and last issue will be stated in various parts of the description and changes that occurred on intervening issues may have been recorded in notes.  Thus, over the life of a serial, the catalog record grows to reflect the bibliographic history of the serial.

The decision process, which will be discussed in detail in the sections of this module, has many steps.  These steps are illustrated in the following diagram:


3.1.1.  Source of description

Base the description on the first issue or part of the serial.  If you do not have the first issue, base the description on the earliest issue in hand and record the designation of that issue in a "Description based on:"  note.  (RDA

362 0# $a Vol. 1, no. 1 (May 1989)-    {1st issue in hand}

500 ## $a Description based on: Vol. 2, no. 1 (May 1990).  {1st issue not in hand}

When a new record is created due to a change in title or issuing body, or other circumstances such as a change in format (see Module 16), base the description on the first issue that bears the new title or body, or the earliest issue in hand if the first issue is not available or is uncertain.

1st issue of new title:

Vol. 18, no. 1, January 1992

In record:

362 0# $a Vol. 18, no. 1 (Jan. 1992)-


3.1.2.  Pilot or introductory issues

Sometimes the first issue of a serial, usually a periodical, is issued bearing words such as "premier," "introductory," or "pilot" issue.  There are two possibilities.  The first is that this is the first issue of the serial and the publisher is calling attention to that fact by calling the issue a "premier" or "introductory" issue.  The issue may also carry regular numbering, e.g., volume 1, number 1, etc.

The second possibility is that the publisher is "testing the waters" to determine public interest and whether or not there is a market for the publication.  If public interest is not strong enough, no further issues are published.  The terms "pilot," "trial," or "sample" issue are frequently used in such cases, but publishers have a habit of using all of these terms interchangeably.  These issues may bear numbering (often volume 1, number 0) and dates, dates alone, or the phrase and no separate number or date.

When an issue is truly the first issue (e.g., "premiere issue"), base the description on that issue.  Do not base the description on issues that appear to be sample or introductory issues.  Issues that bear numbering such as vol. 1, no. 0 may be used as the first issue when there is clear evidence that they are not serving merely as sample issues (LCRI 12.0B1 ).  (See Module 8 for further information.)


In Fig. 3.1. "Premier-Preview" appears with "Vol. 1 No. 1."  The description is based on this issue but the words are not included in the designation.


362 0# $a Vol. 1, no. 1 (July 1990)-



3.1.3.  Numbers and dates not in sequence

The earliest issue is always number 1, or its equivalent, regardless of how it is dated.  Occasionally, a serial bearing both numbering and dates is issued out of sequence.  For example, no. 1 has a chronological designation of Mar. 1990; no. 2 has a chronological designation of Jan. 1990.  In such cases, choose the earliest issue based on the number rather than the date.  Make a note explaining the discrepancy (field 515).

362 0# $a No. 1 (Mar. 1990)-

515 ## $a No. 2 called Jan. 1990.

See also:

Module 3.  Chief Source and Other Sources of Information