In the process of planning its 2000 spring program, the Technical Services and Technology Forum (TSAT) of the Virginia Library Association learned that Tom Ray and Phyllis Riddick of the Library of Virginia had completed the Train the Trainer course offered by the Library of Congress under its Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program, and were certified as CONSER level trainers. Tom and Phyllis indicated that they were available to give workshops but needed a sponsoring organization, such the TSAT Forum. Through an informal survey of our membership, we discovered an acute need for serials cataloging training in Virginia, especially in the western part of the state. Because we wished to make this training accessible state wide, we offered two regional workshops, one in Richmond and one in Blacksburg. The workshops were originally designed to be two days each, but were shortened to one day to accommodate people unable to take two days off or unable to afford a two-night hotel stay. Lunch and morning refreshments were included in the price of the workshop. Both workshops were filled to capacity.

The Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program (SCCTP), a branch of the Cooperative Online Serials Program (CONSER), was inaugurated in 1998 and fully implemented in 1999. This program grew out of the need for nationally available training based on the CONSER Cataloging Manual . 1 The goals of the SCCTP are to increase productivity,produce cost effective and high quality records, and increase end-user and serial cataloger satisfaction.

Tom Ray is Cataloging Coordinator at the Library of Virginia, where he has worked for six years;he also served as Senior Cataloger for the Virginia Newspaper Project and as Serials Librarian. He held previous cataloging positions at Princeton Theological Seminary and at Louisiana State University.Phyllis Riddick is the Serials Assistant at the Library of Virginia and has cataloged serials there for over ten years. She catalogs serials in all formats (both original and copy cataloging),contributes NACO (name authority) records, and resolves complex authority problems.

For the basic serials cataloging workshop, the SCCTP provides trainers with a Power Point presentation and an instructor's manual. Participants were each given a workbook to use throughout the workshop and for future reference. The slide show, the instructor's manual, and participant workbooks were a very effective training package-all three were prepared by Cameron J. Campbell of the University of Chicago.

The workshop provided a rudimentary foundation in serials cataloging. This enabled participants without prior experience to begin cataloging serials immediately. It was also a good refresher course for those with serials cataloging experience. The workshop attracted participants from a wide range of experience levels. Participants learned how to identify or create appropriate serial copy, and were introduced to relevant MARC tagging. There was a brief summary of the issues of successive and latest entry cataloging, and a discussion of full and core level cataloging. The trainers introduced the following standards for serials cataloging and discussed integrating the standards with local practice: AACR-2 ( Anglo-American Cataloging Rules , 2nd edition revised) and the Library of Congress Rule Interpretations , MARC-21 (Machine Readable Cataloging record standards), the CONSER Cataloging Manual , OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) and RLIN(Research Libraries Information Network), and NISO (National Information Standards Organization).

The definition of a serial and its characteristics were introduced. The major elements in the definition of a serial are: it can be in any medium; it has successive parts; it contains a numerical or chronological designation (enumeration or chronology); and it is intended to continue publication indefinitely. Other identifying characteristics such as the ISSN were mentioned. There was a discussion of when and when not to apply serials criteria to cataloging records.

The trainers introduced the MARC serial record, explaining serial tags and the differences between fixed fields in serial and monograph records. Then they discussed the basics of cataloging serials, including identifying the chief source of information, and transcribing the title proper and other title information, variant titles,statements of responsibility, edition statements, and the imprint.They also covered standard enumeration and chronological designations, how to create the frequency note, how to handle serials within series, making linking entries on interrelated records, and the notes fields, which convey important information.

Copy cataloging of serials, which the majority of serials catalogers do, occupied a significant portion of the workshop. Some criteria for evaluating serial copy were given. These included:

  • determining if the record matches the piece in hand and determining the most appropriate record to use;
  • checking to be sure the record is for the correct format;
  • determining whether the dates fit;
  • determining how authoritative the record is and if it complies withAACR-2;
  • editing serial copy, including critical edits, edits necessary for access,edits important for controlling serials, editing pre-AACR-2 records, and editing MARC tags.

Original cataloging and occasions justifying new records were described. Instances when a new record would be required include changes in title, main entry,enumeration (such as when a serial begins with vol. 1 and then years later restarts the numbering with another vol. 1), or physical format.

There was a brief discussion about accessing electronic resources directly and remotely.Electronic serials available over the Internet come in a variety of formats (HTML, pdf, and others) and are accessible through a variety of interfaces. They may lack traditional designations, and may not have a single chief source of information,instead distributing bibliographic elements among several screens.Suggestions for handling these challenging aspects of bibliographic description were covered in the workshop. Special fields required for computer file records were also mentioned.

The workshops were well received. Workshop objectives were met: participants emerged from the workshop with a thorough understanding of serial publications and the processes involved in cataloging them. Some participants suggested that this workshop should be offered again and followed up by an advanced one. Anyone in Virginia who is interested in another offering of the Basic Serials Cataloging Workshop or follow-up training through VLA should contact Althea Aschmann . For more information on SCCTP or to order training materials, check the CONSER web site at .


1 Jean Hirons, "SCCTP-Continuing Education for Continuing Resources," The Serials Librarian 37, no. 4: 113-121.