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Research Guides

Cataloguing Resources

A guide to resources on cataloguing and classification for the University of Toronto Libraries system.

Determining what is a serial

1.Definition of a serial (From the A.L.A. glossary of library and information science):

-a publication in any medium issued in successive parts, bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely.

- includes periodicals, newspapers, annyals (reports, yearbooks, etc.), the journals, memoirs, proceedings, transactions, etc., of societies and numbered monographic series (AACR2).

2. How to determine whether it's a serial

a) Read the preface or introduction

Watch for key phrases such as: first of a series . . . , will be updated on a regular basis... , etc.

Look for any indication that the publication will be continued indefinitely.

b) Note the wording of the title

Titles beginning:

- Recent advances in ...  Progress in ... Current research in ... , etc., are likely to te serials

Date(s) in a title may also indicate a serial.

c) Determine the frequency of the publication.

An item issued at regular intervals, e.g., annually, quarterly, etc. is a serial if all the other indications are present.

Exception: Some supplements to monograph titles.

d) Look for an ISSN

Types of publications catalogued as serials

Types of publications that are not really serials but are often catalogued as serials

a) Conferences

In the past, UTL catalogued many numbered conferences as serials. Today, most of the new conference titles are treated as monographs, because fuller access is provided, e.g. editors, distinctive titles of individual volumes, etc.

b) Handbooks and books of standards

These publications may be issued annually, usually have some chronological desigpation and share the same access points in each edition. Most are catalogued as serials, depending on frequency, etc. of publication.

c) Numbered monographic series

Whether or not to catalogue a numbered monographic series as a serial is a local decision based on the library's collection policy and the substantive nature of each number. Scientific series in the past were catalogued as serials at the request of Science libraries. Most monographic series in the humanities arid social sciences are catalogued as monographs. In certain cases, some numbers of a multipart item are monographic while others are not. However, only one record should be made for all items. Distinctive titles of individual volumes may be traced if only a few.

d) Directories

Ninety-eight percent of directories-are published frequently enough to warrant serial treatment. In most cases the date is very prominent. 

N.B. LC will not treat a directory as a serial if there is no chronological or numerical designation. UTL will do so, if there is an indication that the directory will be updated.

e) Union lists of serials

Most union lists appear often enough to be handled as serials.

f) Indexes to serials

Indexes often appear after a serial has ceased publication. LC treats them as monographs and links them by means of classification and subjects. UTL catalogues indexes to serials as part of the serial. If UTL owns the serial, the index then appears in the field 868 in the MARC holdings record.If UTL does not own the serial, and it has been decided to keep the index, catalogue it as a monograph with a subject added entry (6XX tag) for the main work plus the subject subdivision |xIndexes. Make an added entry (7XX ta) for the main serials. Classify the index where the parent serial would class.

UTL Serials cataloguing policy

1981 to present: successive title cataloguing (i.e., if the entry element changes, e.g., title, etc., a new record is created)

(LC began successive title cataloguing in 1972. Thus, there are discrepancies between LC practice and UTL practice for many titles).

Pre-1981 - latest title cataloguing (i.e. former titles are added to the same record)

Serials records coding

All serials records coded before fall 1985 are coded using the monograph format. Serials format has been in use only since the fall of 1985.


Although analytics were done extensively in the Old Class only the Champlain Society publications are currently analyzed. (UTL ceased doing analytics in the early 1960's).  


1. If you think that an item may be a serial, put it on the problem shelf/send to Serials Cataloguer.

2. Put annual reports on the serials problem shelf.

3. Reprints of serials, even if in one volume, are treated  as serials.

4. Generally, the ultimate decision as to whether to catalogue a monographic series as a serial rests with the Cataloguer.

Searching tips

How to determine whether a serial record exists for a title

1. Do not include a date in a title search when it looks as if that date might vary.

2. Search for both bibliographic and authority records for your title, i.e., not just a series authority.

3. Search by the ISSN found in the item.

Excerpts from serials

Excerpts from serials (Cf. LCRI 21.28B)

 a) How to enter

 Catalogue a collection of excerpts from a serial as an independent work. Choose the main entry according to AACR2, Chapter 21.

b) How to relate to serial

i) In the description

If the name of the serial does not appear in the body of the entry, record the information in a note, e.g.,

245 The best of psychology today …

245 Readings in business today …

500 "Each article has appeared on the pages of the Wall Street journal.

 ii) As an added entry /

 Generally make an added entry for the serial only if:

-the serial is mentioned in the chief source of information


- all the items in the collection would not be entered under the same heading

 If 2 or 3 different serials are mentioned, make an added entry for each. If 4 or more different serials are mentioned, do not make added entries.

If 2 or more serials are mentioned, make an added entry for the latest if the titles represent a succession of changes.

 Extracts from monographs

Make a separate record for extracts from a monographic work. Use the same main entry as the larger work. Supply a uniform title consisting of the title of the

whole work followed by "Selections" or "Works. Selections",, e.g., (Cf. RDA6.

100 Whitman …

240 Leaves of grass.$kSelections

245 Excerpts from Walt Whitman's Leaves of grass

505 Contents note


700 12  Analytical access point(s)


Supplements or special numbers to serials catalogued  separately as monographs

a) Treated as series (numbered) (Cf. LCRI 1.6H.)

Numbered supplements or special issues to serials, which are catalogued separately as monographs, to be treated as series


490/830 Journal of biosocial science$pSupplement ;|vno. 5

490/830  Revue romane.$pNumero special ;|v17

490/830  Asien, Afrika, Lateinamerika.$pSpecial issue ;|v3

Make an authority record for the series. A note in the authority record should say: “Should UTL purchase this serial, please drop authority record”.

b) Treated as added entries (unnumbered) (Cf. LCRI 21.30G.)

Give information that the item is a supplement or special issue in a note (500 tag) if it does not appear in the body of the entry (i.e., in the title or statement of responsibility area.)

Make an added entry for the serial as follows:

I)                    supplement, etc. relates to the serial as a whole

Record the uniform title of the serial followed by two spaces and "Supplement", "Special number", etc. in English, e.g.,

500 Special issue of New America

730 New America.$pSpecial issue

ii) supplement. etc. relates to a particular number of the serial

Record the uniform title of the serial, the number (preceded by two spaces), and the qualifier

"(Supplement)", e.g.,

500 "Biomedical research, volume 4, supplement 1983."

730 Biomedical research.$nVol. 4 (Supplement)

N.B. Give the designation preceding the number ($n subfield) in tag 730 as it appears in field 362 of the serial record.

 iii) supplement. etc. relates to a particular number of the serial and is itself numbered

Make an added entry as in ii) above but include the number in the qualification, e.g.,

730 Biomedical research.$nVol. 9 (Supplement 3)

Make a plain green card for the Series/Serials File to record the entire 730 field in cases i)-iii) above, e.g.,

World development. V. 12 (Supplement)

Created from TS/CatM/28, TS/CatM/21, TS/CatM/23 – March 2014


Based on TS/CatM/28, TS/CatM/21, TS/CatM/23 – Updated March 2014