One of the fist specific questions that arises with looseleaf publications is whether they should be cataloged as monographs or as serials. (One could look at the "releases," "supplements," etc., as constituting the issues of a serial.) After carefully considering whether the bibliographic serials, the Library of Congress concluded that by the strict definitions of a monograph and a serial, looseleaf publications constitute neither; instead, their unique characteristics need to be considered outside established cataloging formulae.

Cataloging looseleaf publications as serials was rejected for three basic reasons, all of which derive from the premises of serial cataloging:

1. Earliest issue. According to the rules for serials, the cataloging is done from the earliest issue; this is unworkable in a situation in which the chief source is continually being discarded because it is superseded.

2. Successive entry. The practice of successive entry cataloging, which is presently basic to serials, cannot apply. Even though the title may change, the result is not two publications with different titles. Instead, a change in title is accompanied by replacement pages to be interfiled. Once the interfiling has occurred, the result is not two separate publications; rather, it is one publication embodying pages both from the "original" and "replacements" but interfiled in one publication.

3. Updates: "Releases," "Supplements," etc. Even if other basic requirements for serial treatment were met, only the updates, not the basic work, could be considered a serial because the basic work lacks a numeric or chronological designation, a basic characteristic of serial. (N.B. The updates are also not usable apart from their presence within the basic work, so that although they might be checked in separately, as issues of a serial are, they could not be used separately.)

The conclusion here is that normally looseleaf publications per se are not serials. There are a very few genuinely serial publications that are looseleaf. For details, consult LCRI 12.0A (CSB, no. 44 (spring 1989), an excerpt of which is reproduced below:

Catalog as serials:

1. Publications meeting the definition of serials but issued in looseleaf form simply to allow issues to be stored in a binder.

This category includes publications whose successive issues consist of parts which may be filed into separate sections of a binder but which do not replace parts already present (e.g., a monthly publication listing recalled products; each monthly issue consists of separately designated sheets to be filed into an annual binder divided into various product categories.)

2. Publications that consist of a basic binder or set of binders which are issued periodically (usually annually or biennially) and carry corresponding designations. Loose-leaf updates are issued in between the periodic editions of the basic volume(s) (e.g., a 1979 volume, plus quarterly updates to be interfiled; 1980, plus quarterly updates to be interfiled, etc.)

Catalog as monographs:

1. Publications consisting of a loose-leaf binder or finite number of binders to which new or replacement pages are added periodically.

Do not catalog as serials any of the updates, revised pages, or supplements to these publications, even though these updates, etc., are frequently issued in packages containing a numeric or chronological designation suggestive of serial publications. Also do not catalog as serials serial-like sections of such publications even if they carry independent numeric or chronological designations and separate titles such as bulletin, newsletter, report bulletin, etc.

2. Generally do not catalog as a serial loose-leaf material of permanent value (e.g., court decisions) that constitutes a section of a loose-leaf publication and that at the end of the year or from time to time is transferred from the loose-leaf binder to a permanent binder, or is sent by the publisher to the subscriber in a permanent volume that contains the material previously received in loose-leaf format. (Access to the special section and the transfer volumes is provided by a title added entry on the bibliographic record for the looseleaf.)

Although judged not to be serials, it does not follow that looseleaf publications must therefore be monographs. (One needs only to consider such differences as the choice of title proper when the title changes or the transcription of the date of publication or of copyright which is likely to change with each replacement page.) Nevertheless, because the bibliographic description applied to looseleaf publications follows so closely that of monographs (except for the few serials mentioned above) and includes the records for them in that portion of its machine catalog allocated to books (called the BOOKSM file).

See also:


Cataloging Rules for the Description of Looseleaf Publications: Contents