StaffGuide: Receiving & Processing

Frequency Changes

A frequency change is:

  • A change in the number of issues you receive of a title in a year or volume. Examples: monthly to quarterly, or quarterly to semiannually. It can be something major like that, or something minor, i.e. from 11 issues per year to 10 issues per year.
  • Not always the same as a publication schedule change. Example: a journal might go from weekly except for combined issues in July and December to weekly except for combined issues in June and November. See the section on publication schedules for more info about this.

When to look for a frequency change:

  • It is best to check for frequency changes in the first issue of a volume or year.
  • Frequency changes in the middle of a volume or year are rare, but occasionally happen. It is good to review for frequency changes if you notice a new pattern in the journal’s cover date and/or enumeration format that is noticeably different from what the check-in record notes and/or bib record indicate, or if the cover date is different than what was expected per the next check-in box. For example, Popular Science switched from bi-monthly to quarterly with the 2nd issue of 2018. This became noticeable when the journal published a seasonal Spring 2018 issue, in contrast to their previous issues being designated by months:

Frequency change from bimonthly to seasonal


Where to look for a frequency change:

  • Some journals list their frequency in the masthead area, often in fine print. This will be usually be towards the front of the issue on the 2nd or 3rd page, but can sometimes be in very fine print along the margin towards the back of an issue.
  • Sometimes, the publisher will mention an upcoming frequency change in an editor’s note. We are not expected to actively read all of these, but they are another good source to check and have been known to provide useful info after noticing something different about the journal.
  • Occasionally, we will get an e-mail from a publisher or one of the major vendors alerting us of a pending frequency change. Harrassowitz will often send us notification e-mails similar to claim e-mails alerting us of a pending frequency change, and EBSCO will send us title change alerts with links to login to our EBSCONET account for details on the change. These also may arrive via snail mail.
  • Sometimes, the publisher's website will mention a pending frequency change.

What to do:

Give journals and forward any e-mails, publisher correspondence, etc., that indicate new frequencies or pending frequency changes to the Receiving Specialist for review.For more information on what the Receiving Specialist does, check out the section below.

Processing Frequency Changes

Processing Frequency Changes:

The Serials Department is usually notified or finds out when a publication has gone through a frequency change. Sometimes we find out that the frequency will change soon, or we find out that it has changed already but our records in Sierra are not updated yet to reflect this change.

After finding out about the frequency change, it is important to update our records in Sierra. Please send the frequency change notification to the Serials Processing Specialist for processing.


Sometimes, when the Serials Receiving Specialist alerts you to a new frequency change, the 310 and 321(s) are already way out of date. Check out the Retro Clean Up: Updating 310 &/or 321(s) tab.

Processing Frequency Changes--Check In Record & Check In Card Maintenance

Processing frequency changes:

If you know about the frequency change ahead of time:

  • Add a note field at the top of the check in record that says “PENDING FREQ CHG: from #x/yr to #x/yr starting w/ v.:no. (cover date) (d/i)”. For example:  “PENDING FREQ CHG: from 10x/yr to 6x/yr starting w/ v.170:1 (Jan./Feb. 2019) (12/21/18 anm)”.
  • Add a message field in the check in record if you need to review the first issue of the new frequency. For example: "Give 1st 2019 issue to Ashley for review (11/02/18 anm)".

Image of the check in record in Sierra with a notation about a pending frequency change.

  • Add a staff note in the box of the first issue of the new frequency that says "Give issue to [name] for review (d/i)".NOTE: You will not process the frequency change until you have a chance to review the last issue of the old frequency and the first issue of the new frequency.
  • Add a suppressed blank box in between the last issue with the old frequency and the first issue of the new frequency. Also add a “pending freq chg” note from the check in record in the public note of the suppressed box.

Image of the check in card in Sierra with an example of a pending frequency change box as well as a check in record message box instructing to give the first issue to a Serials staff member.


If the first issue of the new frequency has finally arrived or if you were notified of a frequency change after the frequency change has already happened:

  • Retrieve the last issue of the old frequency and the first issue of the new frequency. This might involve some detective work if it seems to be unclear when the change occurred. Also, don’t forget to check our online holdings if we do have online access to those issues. After confirming the old frequency and new frequency then you are ready to proceed with updating the check in record and card then update the bibliographic record.
  • Add a 5 dash “freq chg” note at the bottom of the check in record: “FREQ CHG: from #x/yr to #x/yr starting w/ v.:no. (cover date) (d/i)”. For example:  “FREQ CHG: from 10x/yr to 6x/yr starting w/ v.170:1 (Jan./Feb. 2019) (12/21/18 anm)”. Your 5 dash note will go with the other 5 dash notes located on the bottom of the record or it will go straight to the bottom.
  • Make sure to update the parameters note to the current frequency and current days before claiming number. See the "~~PARAMETERS:" note in the image. The number "90" represents the frequency of the title being quarterly or being published every 90 days. The number "15" represents days before claims.

Image of the check in record in Sierra with a focus on adding the five dash frequency change note and updating the parameters note.

  • Make sure you have a suppressed blank box in between the last issue with the old frequency and the first issue of the new frequency. Also add a “freq chg” note from the check in record in the public note of the suppressed box. However, if this frequency change happened a long time ago and everything is already bound, then a suppressed box in the check in record is not needed.
  • Now make sure to update the frequency and claim on date in the "Edit Card" function. This can be accessed by using the shortcut keys [CTRL]-[E].

Processing Frequency Changes--Bibliographic Record Maintenance

Bibliographic Record Maintenance - Publication frequency and regularity:

Use field 310 to describe the current frequency and regularity. When the frequency and regularity of the publication change, Freq and Regl can be updated to reflect the current publication pattern as recorded in field 310. See Freqfield 310, and field 321 for more information.

Use field 321 to describe former publication frequency.

The codes in Freq and Regl should agree. Make sure to update the (008) MARC field: Regular and Freq. You will use the shortcut keys [CTRL]-[R] to access the multiple fields of the (008) MARC field in Sierra.

NOTE: You can only have 1 (310) MARC field but you can have up to 3 (321) MARC fields. If a record has more than 3 (321) MARC fields, then you can consolidate the (321) fields into using only one (321) MARC field that says “Frequency varies”.

Processing Frequency Changes--Retro Clean Up: Updating 310 &/or 321(s)

Retro Clean Up: Updating 310 MARC field &/or 321 MARC Field(s)‚Äč:

  • The Serials Processing Specialist is responsible for keeping the 310 and 321(s) up to date in the bibliographic record.

    When checking/verifying the pub schedule for the upcoming year/volume, the Serials Receiving Specialist will make sure the publication schedule and current frequency matches the 310 MARC field of the bibliographic record. If this needs updating or if there is no 310, then the issue will be passed to the Serials Processing Specialist for review and possible retro clean up.

  • For retro clean up of the 310 and/or 321(s):

    • Always go to the OCLC Connexion Client and check the 310 and 321(s) for possible updates to the OCLC master record.

    • If the updates in the OCLC master record are correct, proceed to look at the last issue of the old frequency then the first issue of the new frequency. Sometimes our library has online access to issues or you might have to look at the physical format copy if we do not have online access to what you need to look at.

    • Look for publication schedules and anything mentioning the publication's frequency. Sometimes the editor will write about the publication schedule change and/or frequency change. After verifying the publication schedule changes and frequency changes, proceed to update our local record in Sierra.