At the American University in Cairo Library, we suffer a lot from
incompletes. By the time our shipments arrive, it often seems too late
for a claim to work. Judging by the wrong deliveries that reach us, I
suspect quite a lot is mis-routed, either by dealers' boxing services or
by shippers. On the other hand, direct mail has pitfalls too.
We took the decision not to bind quite a substantial number of our
titles, about 5 years ago, so if the incomplete is in that category, at
least we don't have a binding problem.
Where the incomplete belongs to a title we normally bind, we wait a
while in case it shows up, then we decide whether to back-order or not,
and if the result is still a gap, we bind incomplete, with "INC" on the
spine and the number/s of the missing issue/s pencilled inside the front
If the missing issue turns up, we bind it separately. Sometimes we send
it to the bindery, sometimes we use readymade "pamphlet bindings" if we
happen to have any the right size. I would never rip apart and re-trim
a volume that was otherwise in good shape.
If we were being really good, we should tip a note into the bound volume
to say "issue no x bound separately".
Head, Serials Department
American University in Cairo Library