ALCTS - Association of Library Collections & Technical Services

CC:DA/TF/Seriality Rules Review/4

January 7, 2001

Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access

Task Force on the Review of Revising AACR2 to Accommodate Seriality: Rule Revision Proposals

Discussion Paper

Please note that the purpose of this document is to facilitate the work of the Committee and to provide a means for outreach to both library and non-library cataloging communities. This document is intended for the exclusive use of CC:DA and its cataloging constituencies, and is presented for discussion in the ongoing process of rule revision. Under no circumstances should the information here be copied or re-transmitted without prior consultation with the current Chair of CC:DA.


The Task Force on the Review of Revising AACR2 to Accommodate Seriality: Rule Revision Proposals presented its “final” report on August 1, 2000. Following the actions of the Joint Steering Committee in September, the Task Force was revived to continue the review of the relevant documents relating to the revision of Chapter 12.

The main document is a clean draft of Chapter 12 and related rules, prepared by the Library of Congress representative to the Joint Steering Committee. This document contains a wealth of detail that needs to be reviewed by ALA, and the Task Force has begun compiling comments. However, we are not yet ready to present those comments for discussion by CC:DA at the 2001 ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Instead, we would like to raise two extremely broad issues for consideration by CC:DA. What follows is a discussion paper which attempts to lay out the background for discussion of these issues. Due to time constraints, it was drafted by the chair of the Task Force and does not necessarily represent the views of the Task Force either collectively or individually.

Issue 1.   The Model of Bibliographic Resources

In their paper presented at the International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR in October 1997, Jean Hirons and the late Crystal Graham presented a number of models for organizing the universe of bibliographic resources. They started with a basic distinction between static publications (those which are complete as issued) and ongoing publications (those which change over time). The latter include multivolume monographs, for which all volumes have yet to be issued; monographs accompanied by regularly or irregularly issued supplements; loose-leaf publications; publications issued in conjunction with a limited-time event such as the 24th Olympic Games or the 1996 Clinton campaign; databases, web sites, online services, and discussion lists; numbered serials, including monographic series; and unnumbered monographic series.

In addition to the distinction between static and ongoing publications, they noted that there are other distinctions which can be made: between determinate publications (those intended to be completed in a definite number of parts or in a definite period of time) and indeterminate publications (those which are intended to continue indefinitely); and between successively-issued publications and publications which change through updates which are integrated into the existing publication and do not remain distinct parts (what we now call integrating resources).

The paper presented various models for using these different distinctions to develop a model of the bibliographic universe. Their principal recommendation was adopt a model which defined serials in terms of their intent to continue indefinitely (model B) and to work towards a model that made the primary distinction between ongoing and static publications (model C).

In the report presented to the Joint Steering Committee in April 1999, Jean Hirons presented a new model. It proposed a primary distinction between static (now called finite) and ongoing (now called continuing) resources, based on the intent to continue over time with no predetermined conclusion. Finite resources could be either complete (monographs) or incomplete (multiparts) and both incomplete finite resources and continuing resources could be successively-issued or integrating.

This model fell somewhere between the Model B and the Model C of the 1997 paper and was referred to as Modified Model C. It argued on pragmatic grounds that the fundamental distinction among bibliographic resources should be whether the resource had a predetermined conclusion, rather than whether it was ongoing in the sense of being issued over time. The pragmatic point of this was that continuing resources so defined shared important characteristics and were described in similar ways, whereas incomplete finite resources had more in common with complete finite resources. This recommendation was tentatively accepted by the Joint Steering Committee in October 1999 “pending proof of concept.”

In their comments of August 2000, the Library of Congress argued that the proposed definition of continuing resource should not be used in Chapter 12 of AACR2 because “multiparts are issued over time and sometimes without a predetermined conclusion,” but are not covered by Chapter 12.

The first issue at hand, therefore, is whether to accept the proposed definition of continuing resources which relies on the absence of a predetermined conclusion, and whether that definition excludes multipart items or not.

The following definitions are quoted from the clean draft of Chapter 12:

Bibliographic resource. A manifestation or expression of a work that forms the basis for bibliographic description. A bibliographic resource may be tangible or intangible.

Continuing resource. A bibliographic resource that is issued over time, usually with no predetermined conclusion. A continuing resource can be a serial or an integrating resource.

Integrating resource. A bibliographic resource that is added to or changed by means of updates that do not remain discrete and are integrated into the whole. Examples of integrating resources include updating loose-leafs and some Web sites.

Monograph. A bibliographic resource that is complete in one part or intended to be complete within a finite number of parts.

Multipart item. A monograph complete, or intended to be completed, in a finite number of separate parts. The separate parts may or may not be numbered.

Serial. A bibliographic resource issued in a succession of discrete parts, usually bearing numbering, that generally has no predetermined conclusion. Examples of serials include journals, magazines, electronic journals, continuing directories, annual reports, newspapers, newsletters of an event, and monographic series.

Updating loose-leaf. A bibliographic resource that consists of a base volume(s) updated by separate pages which are inserted, removed, and/or substituted.

The following is the graphic representation of Modified Model C:

sr-ex3.gif - 18433 Bytes

Issue 2.   The Scope of Chapter 12 of AACR2

The Library of Congress argues that, because multiparts fit the definition of continuing resources but are not covered in Chapter 12, Chapter 12 does not in fact cover all continuing resources. Further, because Chapter 12 covers all integrating resources, finite as well as continuing, its coverage is also broader than continuing resources. They therefore recommend that the title and scope of Chapter 12 be “Serials and Integrating Resources.” They recomend further that the term “continuing resources” not be used anywhere in Chapter 12 and that, since the term is not used in any other chapter, it not be defined in the glossary at this time. The term should be added when “confusion about the status of multipart items has been resolved” and when the model of bibliographic resources has been explained in the new introduction to AACR that is being drafted.

The first paragraph of rule 12.0A1 in the clean draft reads:

12.0A1. The rules in this chapter cover the description of serials and integrating resources, including those that have a predetermined conclusion. These rules do not apply to the description of multipart items.

If the discussion surrounding Issue 1 above has reached the conclusion that multipart items do not fall within the definition of continuing resources and, therefore, that Chapter 12 does in fact cover all continuing resources (although it also covers integrating resources that are not continuing), CC:DA may wish to introduce the concept of continuing resources into 12.0A1 and to define the term in the glossary. The following revision was proposed by Jean Hirons and Regina Reynolds (quoted from the LC response to the clean draft, with a minor correction):

12.0A1. The rules in this chapter cover the description of continuing resources (i.e., serials and integrating resources that generally have no predetermined conclusion). These rules are also to be applied to finite integrating resources because there is no difference in the description of ongoing and finite integrating resources. These rules do not apply to the description of multipart items.

Another possible revision is presented below:

12.0A1. The rules in this chapter cover the description of continuing resources, whether successively issued (i.e., serials) or integrating. The rules are also applicable to the description of finite integrating resources (i.e., those with a predetermined conclusion). The rules do not apply to the description of multipart items.


This discussion has been presented for your consideration, in the hopes that we can have a productive discussion on these rather fundamental issues concerning the model to be used for categorizing bibliographic resources and on the scope and terminology of Chapter 12 of AACR. Please consider these issues carefully and be prepared to discuss them during the CC:DA meeting at ALA Midwinter.

John C. Attig
Chair of the Task Force