A1.1.  Synopsis

CONSER is a cooperative program for online cataloging of serials and integrating resources.  It began in the early 1970s as the CONSER (CONversion of SERials) Project and has become the CONSER (Cooperative ONline SERials) Program.  In October 1997 CONSER became a component of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging.  The full CONSER data base resides on the OCLC online system.

Membership in the CONSER Program includes the national libraries of the United States and Canada (and their respective International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) centers), and selected university and U.S. federal libraries.  Also included are participants of the United States Newspaper Program (USNP).

The records created by these institutions are used for cataloging, selection and acquisitions, interlibrary loan, and union listings.  Retrospective conversion is still an important task, but there is far more activity in the areas of current cataloging and database maintenance.

The need for CONSER stems from the dynamic nature of serial publications.  Unlike monographs, serials are constantly changing titles, merging, or ceasing.  Modifications to the records accommodate the changes in the serials themselves and in the rules for their cataloging.  Through the CONSER Program, members are given the authority to modify master serial records.  To ensure uniformity, the members agree to follow policies and procedures documented in this manual.

CONSER members authenticate, input, and modify serial and integrating resource cataloging records on the OCLC database.  Authentication is the process of approving the descriptive elements in the record and providing for the record’s availability through distribution services and bibliographic products.

Acknowledging that in some libraries, serials catalogers will be cataloging and maintaining records for integrating resources, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging decided in 2002 that both CONSER and BIBCO libraries should be able to create and authenticate records for integrating resources.

CONSER has become a leading voice for serials and integrating resource cataloging.  An expanded history of CONSER, from its beginnings in the early 1970s to its evolution to a program in the 1980s, and the challenges facing the Program in the 1990s is included in A2.  While the format of serials and the rules by which they are cataloged continue to change, the spirit of CONSER–commitment to quality and cooperation–is sure to endure well into the 21st century.

Much of the information pertaining to the CONSER Program is included on the CONSER and PCC websites.  The PCC mission and goals is available at: http://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/; the list of CONSER members and their OCLC symbols is available at: http://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/conser/contact/conmembs.html.

See also:

Section A.  The CONSER Program: Background and Organization

CONSER Editing Guide:  Contents