What's going on with series these days?
In a word, lots. Most recently, MARBI (the Machine-Readable Bibliographic Information Committee) has made MARC field 440 obsolete. Under the new standards, instead of two fields with three possible meanings in the 4xx group (440 = series traced as found, 490 1_ = series traced in a different form in a field 8xx, 490 0_ = series not traced), there will be only one--490--with two possible series treatments designated by the first indicator: 490 1_ = series traced in field 8xx; 490 0_ = series not traced. (Elsie is using old-fashioned terminology here, but "traced" is convenient shorthand for "recorded as an access point.")
This separates, in the MARC tagging, the series statement (part of the bibliographic description) from the series heading (a controlled access point). According to the June 2008 "Report on MARBI Meetings" , MARC did this to make large-scale processing of series more efficient. Based on Elsie's experience, it may also help students and new catalogers learn series tagging a little more readily, and it may help us keep more firmly in mind that a series as access point is always a controlled heading. (Will it also discourage the practice of recording in a 4xx field that which is clearly not the series statement as found on the item, but a constructed uniform heading? Elsie is probably being too hopeful there.)
What do you, the individual cataloger, need to do about this change? At this point, it's a matter for libraries to decide. Field 440 is officially obsolete, but that doesn't mean it is no longer functioning. Elsie isn't aware of any local systems that have stopped, or plan to stop, supporting it. Many libraries seem to be leaving field 440 alone in copy cataloging (assuming of course that it's correctly recorded), but using the 490/8xx combination in original cataloging.
Later on, libraries may look into batch conversion of 440 data into 490/830 pairs. There is also a macro written by Walter F. Nickeson that converts a 440 into a 490 and 830 in OCLC Connexion; it can be found at his Web site, (scroll down to “Make830 macro”).
The other big issue since 2006 (has it really been that long?) has been the Library of Congress's decision “not to create/update series authority records and not to provide controlled series access points in its bibliographic records for resources in series” (from LC's Web site. If, like Elsie, you consider series important for both description and access, there is no easy answer to this one. Some NACO libraries are getting the extra training required to supply series records to the national authority file, so that will help over time, but there is still the problem that LC's original bibliographic records now have all series in 490 0 only, and many libraries and vendors download those records without review. That will probably mean batch cleanup projects down the road.