StaffGuide: Serials Receiving & Processing

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Change in Enumeration


Occasionally a publication will have the volume or issue number misprinted on the piece. Let's say, for example, that our check-in card indicates we are to receive v.130 no.5 (Feb 10, 2015), with the previous issue being v.130 no.4, but the piece we receive reads v.130 no.6 (Feb 10, 2015).

When this occurs, you should make every effort to ensure that the enumeration is a misprint and not a skipped issue or a frequency change

  • Begin by reviewing the most recently checked-in issue to verify that the numbering for that issue is correct. You can simply look at the check-in box if you feel that is sufficient, or you can examine the physical piece on the shelves.

  • While reviewing the numbering also check the publication schedule of the journal as listed in Sierra (which should be either in the check-in record or indicated by the frequency in the 310 field of the bib record), comparing it with the publication schedule listed in the possible misprinted issue. If they differ, this may not be an enumeration error but a frequency change.

  • Finally, if available, use any URLs located in the check-in record or 856 field of the bib record, or online database holdings (which can be accessed via View -> Public Display), to examine any online archives to see if any issues we were supposed to receive before the issue in hand have been published and never received by us. If by doing this, you find that the enumeration of the issue in hand is correct, it would be a skipped issue situation and not an enumeration error.

If the numbering still appears to be in error, you can check in the issue using the following procedure: 

  • Double click the box to be checked in to open the Modify Boxes Individually (Ctrl-M) menu. 
  • Indicate the correct enumeration (what it should be) by applying brackets [] to the elements believed to be in error. Brackets denote that the information is something added by serials and cannot be found printed on the issue. 
  • Add a Public Note that reads: Misnumbered as v. no. on piece (D/I) (with volume and issue corresponding to what is listed on the publication).

               Example of how to treat a typical enumeration error in the check-in box (note the brackets and public note):

Enumeration error

For errors involving alternate enumeration, the note should be placed in the staff note box since alt enumeration does not show up in the public view:

Alternate enumeration error

*****If you receive a publication that continually has enumeration errors, you may contact the publisher and try to get the issue resolved if there is solid contact info, however in most cases, it is more convenient to simply drop the enumeration and just check in by cover date, if the cover date is consistent (which in most cases, it is). Consult with the Serials Processing Specialist on how to proceed with titles that have continuous misnumbering, who will make the final decision on how to solve the problem and perform the necessary card maintenance.*****


Occasionally, you will encounter a change in enumeration that does not involve a misnumbering, frequency change, or skipped issue, but simply a change in how the publisher numbers issues. However, these situations will often accompany a cover date change. These situations are rare, but when they happen they require card maintenance. When this occurs (generally at the start of a new volume or year), please pass the issue along to the Serials Processing Specialist for processing of the enumeration change before proceeding with check-in.

Useful examples of this have occurred in the publications Bicycling and Landscape.

In Bicycling, the publisher started adding a whole issue number in addition to the volume and issue number that normally accompanies an issue:

enumeration change

After the enumeration change has been processed, look for any further instructions added by the Serials Processing Specialist, which may involve monitoring throughout the year and the possible need for future adjustments and maintenance checks, as stated in this note:

enumeration change instructions

enumeration change instructions

enumeration change instructions

In Landscape, the title previously didn't have enumeration, but was added with the first 2019 issue, because the season was dropped from the cover date and the enumeration was needed to distinguish the issue and ascertain chronological order within a year:

enumeration and cover date changes

enumeration and cover date changes

Change in Cover Date


This procedure is for journals that change how they format their cover date. The most common example of this is a quarterly journal switching from months to seasons or vice-versa, but also may include a bimonthly journal starting to list one month instead of two, or the result of a frequency change, i.e. a bimonthly magazine switching to quarterly, as illustrated here:

cover date and frequency change

Thus, when you see a new cover date format, it is a good idea to search the piece for evidence of there also being a frequency change. Before checking the issue in, pass it along to the Serials Processing Specialist when it looks like a cover date change and/or frequency change needs to be implemented.     

To see what the Serials Processing Specialist will carry out, go here

If you encounter an error in the COVER DATE as printed on a journal, you can use the same procedure as described above with enumeration errors, but using the term "misdated" in the box note. Note that Sierra's programming does not allow cover dates to be bracketed, so you will simply need to enter the correct cover date into the date field.