Catalogers have long acknowledged the complexities and challenges of serials cataloging.  Some experienced serials catalogers liken themselves to detectives, constantly searching for clues to the real identity of a serial (is this a title change or a completely different publication?) and are ever alert to the inevitable changes in the same publication.  A teacher of serials catalogers has described serials endearingly, as having "personalities of their own" and as existing in "family relationships."  Regardless of the viewpoint, one fact is certain:  cataloging a serial is not easy.

The importance of serials to library collections, however, more than justifies the time and expense needed to provide bibliographic control (see Module 1).  The availability of a shared database and the opportunity to catalog cooperatively have lessened the burden on individual institutions.  Since the early 1970s serials catalogers at the Library of Congress and at institutions in both the United States and Canada have shared their knowledge and experience towards the goal of creating accurate, useful, and up-to-date cataloging records for serials through the CONSER (Cooperative Online Serials) Program.

The success of CONSER as a cooperative cataloging program depends, in large part, on high quality documentation that allows all participants to share the same knowledge and understanding.  While the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed. revised (AACR2), and Library of Congress Rule Interpretations (LCRIs) provide the framework upon which catalog records are created, they do not always fully explain the concepts behind the rules.  Furthermore, they are not arranged in a manner that is conducive to teaching or in the order in which a cataloger is likely to make decisions.  The CONSER Cataloging Manual (CCM) brings together in one place the rules, LCRIs, and general practice concerning each aspect of the cataloging process.

The CCM is a companion to the CONSER Editing Guide (CEG).  The CEG's primary function is to explain how one creates and tags an online record once the content of the cataloging has been determined.  The CONSER Cataloging Manual explains how one determines that content.


The CCM was created with the following goals:

To provide an easily readable, illustrated approach to AACR2 and the LCRIs as they apply to printed serials (Part I).

To provide a set of common guidelines to facilitate cooperative cataloging and record sharing.

To codify many of the long-standing–but unwritten–practices that have been developed by LC catalogers to handle the situations not expressly covered by a rule or LCRI.

To collect in one place, rules, LCRIs, and common practices relating to serials in general (Part I) and to special types of serials (Part III).

To augment the CONSER Editing Guide by providing examples of the guidelines set forth in the CEG for the maintenance of a cooperative database (Part II).

To serve as both a training and a reference tool.


The CCM was written for all serials catalogers.

Part I is designed to help the new cataloger develop a thought process to be applied in problem solving.  Part I is not limited to "basic" information, however, and contains many details of use to experienced serials catalogers.  Parts II and III address the needs of experienced as well as beginning catalogers.

The primary audience is the catalogers of the Library of Congress and other CONSER institutions.  However, as with the CEG which has been widely used by catalogers in other institutions, all serials catalogers can benefit from an awareness of the basic principles and guidelines contained in the CCM.


The CCM is based on the following assumptions concerning its audience:

The cataloger has an overall knowledge of cataloging principles and the structure of AACR2 and the LCRIs.

The cataloger creates records on or for a national or local online cataloging database.  The cataloger also uses or has access to the CONSER Editing Guide.  This last assumption, while desirable, is not absolutely essential.


Despite extensive editing, no document of this size and magnitude can be flawless.  Comments of any kind are welcome and encouraged.  A comments form is included as the last page of the manual.

See also:

CONSER Cataloging Manual:  Contents