Cataloging and Accessing Congressional Serial Set Publications

The Superintendent of Documents proposed discontinuing the printed United States Congressional Serial Set Catalog (Serial Set Catalog) after production of the 105th Congress (1997-1998). The online Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) with enhanced functionality will replace the printed Serial Set Catalog. To this end, Library Technical Information staff (LTIS) staff evaluated the cataloging policy for Congressional Serial Set documents. These procedures are a result of the evaluation. LTIS began implementation of the procedures in June 2006.


Changing technologies, production costs, and new user information seeking behaviors have caused GPO to evaluate the current procedures relating to the production and dissemination of the Serial Set Catalog. This was driven by the need to enhance indexing, increase access to government publications by providing more detailed cataloging, and reduce production costs:

  • The online CGP module of the integrated library system (ILS) has indexing and searching capabilities that far exceed those of the printed catalogs. It contains the full cataloging records used in the production of the Monthly Catalog and the Serial Set Catalog. Records accessible through the CGP begin with 1976 are kept current through GPO’s daily cataloging record production. Additionally plans are under way to convert the earlier card-based files, which date from the late 1800s. By providing historical and current records the CGP will be more comprehensive than the print product and, as an online Web-based service, it will be available to anyone with Internet access and to all Federal depository libraries.
  • GPO’s depository library partners and customers, whether public, agency, or internal, will benefit from more timely data.
  • The CGP provides users with various search, record display, and e-mail/print options. By capturing only those records or record elements that best fit their need, users are able to create a “customized catalog”. Additionally, where applicable, records have links that directly connect users to online versions of publications.
  • Using the CGP to replace the print catalog will allow GPO to give up costly at-risk mainframe applications

Cataloging Congressional Serial Set Volumes

Analysis of Congressional documents was increased by adding the series statement for Congressional documents to the MARC 440 (Series) field to the Congressional cataloging records; the serial set number will be contained within the $v (volume number/sequential designation). Following this policy is in accordance with the instructions of AACR2 Rev., 2004 update (iteration) and new LTIS internal policies. Below is LTIS’ policy for recording information in the MARC 440 field for Congressional Serial Set documents.

The existing bibliographic record in the CGP for the Congressional Serial Set (CGP Sys no. 000568079) has a PURL that links the user to the page with all of the digitized issues of the Serial Set. Once the digitized issues are loaded, each individual set is checked into an item record attached to the main bibliographic record in GPO’s integrated library system. The holdings statement, which includes the status of the Serial Set volume, is viewable from the bibliographic record.

Congressional Serial Set Bibliographic Record

image of bib record

Congressional Serial Set Holdings Statement

screen grab

For each individual Congressional document bibliographic record, a separate PURL will be created for each report, e.g., Y 1.1/7:108-222, Biographical directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005. A 440 (Series Statement/Added Title Entry) is added to the bibliographic record, e.g.:

  • 440 b0 $a United States Congressional serial set ; $v serial set no. 14902

The series statement to be followed is in accordance with the Library of Congress’s authority record ARN: 3166667.

PURLs will not be removed from individual reports. GPO is indexing the 490 to the document type level, e.g.:

  • 490 1b $a House document / 108th Congress, 2nd session ; $v no. 108-222

GPO started to index the Congressional documents in this way beginning with the documents of the 105th Congress.

Congressional Document Bibliographic Record

Congressional record page

Online Catalog Replacement

As previously stated, congressional publications that make up the Serial Set are indexed and the bibliographic records accessible through the CGP. Additionally, GPO created a searchable subset of records in the CGP that contains only Serial Set publications. This subset is called Congressional Serial Set and it is a CGP selection option under “Catalogs to Search”. The Serial Set search page also contains links to the Numerical Lists of Documents and Reports and the Schedule of Serial Set Volumes, both of which will continue to be available in print as well as online. To facilitate searching, LTIS staff evaluated the current GPO cataloging practice for Congressional documents and specifically looked for alternative indexing methods.

Index Comparisons


Indexes Monthly Catalog 1 Serial Set Catalog Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) Congressional Serial Set 2
Author   X X X
Title begins with … X X X X
Title Variations begin with …     X  
Subject begins with …   X X  
Corporate/Agency Author keyword(s) begins with …   X X X
Series/Periodical Title begins with ...     X X
Conference Proceeding begin with ...     X  
Author Keyword(s)     X X
Title Keywords(s) X   X  
Subject Keyword(s) (all subjects)     X  
Corporate Agency Author keyword(s)     X X
Series/Periodical Title keyword(s)   X X  
Conference Proceeding Keyword(s)     X X
Keyword(s) X   X X
Contract Number     X  
Stock Number     X  
Bill Number   X X X
Subject (LC)     X X
Subject (MeSH)     X  
Subject (NASA)     X  
Geographic Subject(s)     X  
Publisher Keywords     X  
Publication Place     X  
SuDoc Number     X X
Shipping List Number     X  
Item Number     X  
Series Number     X  
Serial Set Number   X X X
Technical Report Number     X  
LC Class Number     X X
Series/Report   X X X
ISBN     X  
ISSN     X  
GPO Stock Number     X  
Notes     X X
Contents     X X
URL/PURL     X  
OCLC Number     X  
Date of Record Production     X  

Searching The Congressional Serial Set In The CGP

Searching the Serial Set image

searching image

MARC Record for House Doucment 108-222/Serial Set Number 14902

MARC record image

MARC Record for the United States Congressional Serial Set

MARC record image 2


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