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Re: online databases and/or serials Kevin M. Randall 09 Jan 1997 23:03 UTC

At 04:36 PM 1/9/97 EST, Elizabeth Brown wrote:
>b) the bottom line is that you should catalog the title based on what works
>for your institution and your local system, etc. By all means, do ASFA as a
>serial, if doing it as a computer file absolutely would not fit local
>circumstances, such as local system display.
>[I'm always puzzled when I see these kinds of databases cataloged as
>serials, though, especially when the records lack "362/500 Description based
>on" fields (unlike your cited example, which is very interesting). After
>all, these particular databases are usually ONE THING (i.e., one file)
>containing data rather than distinguishable pieces or parts all lined up in
>a row.]

I'm wondering if our use of terminology can get us confused.  I am troubled
by a distinction between "computer file" and "serial", as if the two are
mutually exclusive.  Of course Elizabeth Brown is most likely thinking in
terms of FORMATS, but one could take her suggestion to mean that if you
catalog something as a computer file you can't also consider it a serial.

Actually, I am rather disappointed that the USMARC Format Integration didn't
actually do away with the "serial format"; it seems that a "book" record
with bib level "s" and an 006 field for the serial-specific elements would
be just as meaningful (and more logical, in my mind).  But I guess that
would have caused problems for those institutions that keep records for
different formats in different files... (BTW, I have never understood this
division of serials and non-serials in online catalogs; is it merely a
database design matter, or does it have some philosophical basis?)

Kevin M. Randall
Head, Serials Cataloging Section
Northwestern University Library
Evanston, IL   60208-2300

phone: (847) 491-2939  **New Area Code!**
fax:   (847) 491-7637