LC to Cease Creating Series Authority Records

This major announcement from LC just began circulating yesterday. It may have serious implications for access to works by series.?Ǭ† Some Library Juice readers are more up on cataloging issues than I am.?Ǭ† What do you think about this?

The Director for Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Announces the Library of Congress’s Decision to Cease Creating Series Authority Records as Part of Library of Congress Cataloging

April 20, 2006

The Library of Congress has determined that it will cease to provide controlled series access in the bibliographic records that its catalogers produce. Its catalogers will cease creating series authority records (SARs). The Library considered taking this step over a decade ago, but decided against it at that time because of some of the concerns raised about the impact this would have. The environment has changed considerably since then–indexing and key word access are more powerful and can provide adequate access via series statements provided only in the 490 field of the bibliographic record. We recognize that there are still some adverse impacts, but they are mitigated when the gains in processing time are considered.

As the Library was considering introducing this change, it was heavily swayed by the number of records that included series statements. Using statistics for the most recent year with full output of records appearing in the LC Database (fiscal year 2004) gives a sense of the impact on the cataloging workload:

Total monograph records created: 344,362 Total with series statements: 82,447 Total SARs created: 8,770 (by LC catalogers); 9,453 (by Program for Cooperative Cataloging participants)

As a result of the Library’s decision, the following explains what catalogers will and will not do, related to series.

What LC catalogers will do:
* Create a separate bibliographic record for all resources with distinctive titles published as parts of series (monographic series and multipart monographs).
* Give series statements in 490 0 fields.
* Classify separately each volume (i.e., assign call number and subject headings appropriate to the specific topic of the volume). (Imported copy cataloging records will have series access points removed and series statements changed to 490 0.)

What LC catalogers will not do:
* Create new SARs
* Modify existing SARs to update data elements or LC’s treatment decisions
* Consult and follow treatment in existing SARs
* Update existing collected set records
* Change 4XX/8XX fields in completed bibliographic records when updating those records for other reasons

The Library’s rationale includes:
(1) Eliminates cost of constructing unique headings; searching to determine the existence of an SAR; creating SARs; and adjusting 8XX on existing bibliographic records.
(2) Maintains current level of subject access.
(3) In some instances, increases access because more titles will be classified separately
(4) Maintains current level of descriptive access other than series. Uncontrolled series access will remain available through keyword searches.

The Library will be working with affected stakeholder organizations–OCLC, RLG, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, and the larger library community to mitigate as much as possible the impact of this change.

The Library will implement this change on May 1, 2006. The Cataloging Policy and Support Office is revising affected documentation to be reissued to reflect these decisions.

4 comments on “LC to Cease Creating Series Authority Records

  1. It will probably save money and time for the Library of Congress, and libraries that follow this new practice, including (as I understand) the University of California library system. But I think it could make searches more confusing for library patrons and maybe reference librarians too.

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