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Retrospective Conversion of Serials records Marcia Tuttle 07 Jan 1992 03:17 UTC

Date:         Mon, 6 Jan 1992 14:46:49 PST
Subject:      Retrospective Conversion of Serials records

Eric Celeste (MIT) asked about retrospective conversion of serial records.

In response, I have worked on several retrospective conversion of serials
projects, two of which were for the University of California (Berkeley &
systemwide) and one for San Francisco State University.


    Due to the nature of serials, and years of various cataloging styles, it
is advisable to do retrospective conversion of serials IN-HOUSE (e.g. through
a recon account on RLIN or OCLC). The holdings information of a serials record
is the MOST important information and sometimes the shelf-list information is
just not enough. Often titles needed to be broken into successive entries and
only your holdings will determine which titles you actually have in the
collection. Since shelf-list cards are not machine-readable, it is difficult
to duplicate them (especially if the holdings are on the verso or take up more
than one card) and keep all the information in one place. (I am assuming that
you are converting from a card catalog manual system to an OPAC).

Often the shelf-list cards are NOT kept up-to-date in terms of headings
(maintenance is often performed only on the public catalogs) and therefore,
would not make good source information for original input into a database. A
similar problem with the public catalog cards is that they did not always
include all the holdings information (e.g. a note may say, "For holdings
consult shelf list") So there was no one source of information for all aspects
of the retrospective conversion.

SHELVING TITLES: If the library in question does not classify periodicals, but
shelves them by title, how do you enter them into a database? Retrospective
conversion can be done on the titles, but it is not unusual for the shelving
title (for the convenience of patrons and staff) to be different from the
cataloging title proper (245). At San Francisco State University we solved
this problem by adding a 246 (title added entry for serials) with indicators
"09". That is "locally defined title added entry". The print constant in our
OPAC translates this into "SHELVED AS:" as a label display next to the
shelving title. (Our OPAC is the Geac Advance system).

MULTIPLE VERSIONS: This is a sticky issue. Often libraries with old catalog
cards used the "dash-on" approach for different versions (e.g. microfilm or
microfiche) editions for the same title, but only to make up for missing
issues or gaps. This results in problems when doing recon because often the
source card has no other information about the different version other than
"microfiche" and the holdings. Current cataloging rules state that separate
bibliographic records must be made for each version. Although the issue is
being studied for multiple versions to be contained in one bibliographic
record, there is no anticipated implementation expected soon. If cataloging
according to national standards (e.g. CONSER), considerable original
cataloging of microforms should be considered.

retrospective conversion of serials can be done just like a monographic recon
project. Don't expect to hire part-time students to search for serial copy and
upgrade your cataloging for minimum wage. If possible, involve your serials
processing staff. This will also get them used to automation and the MARC

UNION LISTING: If you are participating in a union list of serials, it is very
important that you know precisely what criteria are for choosing the "proper"
serials record. Union lists often have duplicate records because some of the
participants choose a different bibliographic record which files separately
from the other. This is confusing to the patrons at the very least.

If you do consider having the bibliographic conversion done by a vendor, by
way of your shelf-list cards, request that the (OCLC or RLIN) id# be written
on the shelf-list at the time of conversion. This will cost additional, but
will definitely help solve problems which will appear later.

These suggestions were just off the top of my head. If you have any specific
questions, please feel free to call me.

* Mitch Turitz, Serials Librarian, San Francisco State U.     *
* Internet: TURITZ@SFSUVM.SFSU.EDU                            *
* Voice: (415) 338-7883  Fax: (415) 338-6199                  *