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Current Issues in Music Cataloging LIS 5043 Christine Edwards

1 Introduction Music cataloging is a specialized and unique field of librarianship. Professionals in this area deal with materials unlike any other discipline. Namely among these is the vast number of audio recordings and printed music. Audio recordings can be anything from the compact disc to the phonograph record and even a wax cylinder. Along with the printed music is the specific only to music libretto. The cataloging of these materials is in addition to other forms of music literature such as books and periodicals. The organizing of these information containers can be complex and, often times, diverse among different institutions. Shelving systems and organization of materials can be locally personalized. This has been, historically, one of the biggest challenges to music cataloging. There are collaborative efforts to improve this through AACR and MARC catalog records and the proposal of a new code, Resources Description and Access (RDA). These improvements are ultimately to create a better record that therefore enhances the search ability of the items and the ease with which the user can find those items in the catalog. The practice of music cataloging, methods of classification, and the complications encountered by music catalogers in both physical and digital formats will be discussed in this paper. Current research on the topic LOC v. DDC There currently exist two main classification systems for music cataloging: the Library of Congress (LOC) Class M and the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) 780-789. At the turn of the twentieth century the DDC was determined insufficient by Oscar G. T. Sonneck, which resulted in his proposal and development of the LOC Class M (Bradley, 2003). Most academic libraries have since switched to the LOC Class M system, while primary schools and public

2 libraries tend to stick with Dewey. This is far better than the alternatives of every institution having its own organizational system, but is not a perfect answer. Bradley points this fact out by saying historically, music cataloging has been an ample and challenging field for the want of rules applicable to the special problems of music and for the want of adequate bibliographies and thematic catalogues for ready identification. (2003). The Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) has been the provider of the controlled vocabulary for the field of music since the 1940s (Ostrove, 2001). As libraries move into the digital world and online cataloging, the ability to search and cross-reference becomes even more important. The User The LCSH has been the standard, but in its construction poses a problem for users. As Geraldine Ostrove explains it, Music librarians do know that the basic structure of most headings for musical works form first, followed by medium of performance isnt the way musicians think: medium of performance is typically the point of departure. (2001). It is also her opinion that the Library of Congress needs the participation of staffed music users, particularly those in cataloging, to improve their system and make it more user-friendly. Formerly, the user had to wait on materials. A 1986 article by Annie F. Thompson describes the process: Even when the materials are being cataloged at a reasonable pace, the gap is arge between the time a book or [musical] score is cataloged and the moment it finally reachesthe music library and becomes available to the user. With new technologies, however, this is rarely the case. Unfortunately though, even the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), Integrated Library System (ILS), and Web-based Public Access Catalog (WebPAC) have failed to impose standards that can be easily used by the clientele (Papakhian, 2000). It is important to note that

3 not all music users will be musicians. Cataloging needs to reflect the needs of the general public, not just the assumed knowledge of a specialized group of users. The Physical Organization One of the biggest issues in the indexing of music materials is the fragility of the documents. Many are of unusual sizes and can be hard to shelve in the proper order. Additionally, there needs to be a limit on the wear and tear of the item. For this reason, the catalog plays an important role in guiding a user to the physical item without thumbing through unnecessary neighboring volumes. Elizabeth Kelly suggests a method for streamlining this search process by using a standardized vocabulary, but not from the LCSH. Instead she recommends a different standard source, the Grove Dictionary of Music (Kelly, 2010). Even the physical institution is heavily relying on the networked online catalog. The Virtual Organization The digital library is becoming more and more commonplace. Technology has changed the art of cataloging in numerous ways. No longer are the days of typewriters and white correction fluid. Cataloging is now done with computers and data input. The AACR, MARC music format, OCLC and RLG netowrks, and the NACO-Music Project have been the developments of the cooperative cataloging in this new environment (Papakhian, 2000). Digital cataloging brings its own set of issues to the table: enhanced catalog information but a call for simplification; cooperative cataloging but a decrease in staff; basic access versus retrieval schematics. These dichotomies, suggested in a 2000 article by A. Ralph Papakhian, are still be argued today. There is, however, a new system design that looks to be implemented in the coming year. RDA

4 Resource Description & Access, or RDA, is the result of the Music Library Association (MLA) and repeated calls for a better set of cataloging rules for the numerous types of resources acquired by libraries (Glennan, 2012). The original full draft was made available for review in late 2008 (Curran, 2009). Two years later, however, Library of Congress representative Geraldine Ostrove provided an update on the progress indicating that the earliest implementation of RDA would not be until January 2013 (Hafner, 2011). This new system for classification provides the profession an opportunity to look beyond our existing standards to find ways to make library data available on the Semantic Web. (Glennan, 2012). In addition, because it works in tandem with the already existing catalogs and records, it will actually increase the ability to match and cross-reference. According to Gail Thornburg and W. Michael Oskins, the matching of bibliographic records and the variations depending on matching purpose has been a significant challenge for music libraries. Even the end of their research document concludes that the rules and techniques for matching are never really complete and that matching must respond, grow and change, and learn. (Thornburg, 2012). Assessment Being able to adapt is key in the organization of musical materials. The records created for cataloging can be anything from published music to a wax cylinder. AACR and MARC set general guidelines for music catalogers to follow, but there is more detail that needs to be addressed. The variety of languages, for example, proves a challenge to music catalog matching. The same Beethoven symphony can have numerous variations to its title, even within the same country (Symphony no. 3, the Heroic Symphony) (Bradley, 2003). Music indexing is complicated by the multilingual nature of the source itself (Kelly, 2010). It also must be taken in to account how music is perceived as a record. Subject headings tend to describe what books are about,

5 but musicians and music librarians are more interested in what the material is (Ostrove, 2001). It is these types of differentiations that cause difficulty in music cataloging. There is an effort by the Library of Congress to add form/genre options to the LCSH as subheadings. For this to be successful, however, they will need to first develop a standardized syndectic structure (Ostrove, 2001). There are three major indexes for music currently available online: RILM Abstracts of Music Literature (RILM), the Music Index (MI), and the International Index to Music Periodicals (IIMP) (Kelly, 2010). Because these databases were developed separate of one another, they operate by very different methods. To fix this problem, there will need to be more collaboration and cooperation among music libraries and especially among the musical catalogers who are responsible for creating the records. RDA should provide great improvement opportunities for music cataloging (and cataloging in general). This database should allow for better matching of records by allowing for discrimination among performers, cast lists, publishers, instruments and voices, and recording formats (Thornburg, 2012). Since providing legitimate information to the end user is still the goal, the addition of RDA to current library systems should be nothing but an aid to better research (due to better cataloging). Elizabeth Kelly makes an important observation, however. She ends her 2010 article Music indexing and retrieval: current problems by pointing out while steps are being made towards more efficient means of indexing and retrieving music, there is still a long way to go before a really satisfactory practice is likely to be establishedby continuing to study the effectiveness of different indexing and IR practices, we can hope that optimal means of indexing and searching for notated scores, audio, and writings about music can be developed.

6 The truly detrimental blow to music cataloging though is the poor development of future music librarians. Graduate programs specific to this discipline have disappeared or been reduced nationwide (Papakhian, 2000). Librarianship programs are now, at the very least, splitting course time with technology and information science classes. The norm for education in music cataloging is now by means of an internship available at only a few schools according to A. Ralph Papakhian (2000). Librarians will likely survive, but will the music cataloger? The future of the profession appears to be rather bleak. Conclusion Music cataloging has come a long way from the local shelving systems of the 1800s. Great lengths have been made to attempt to standardize both vocabulary and cataloging methods. There are, however, still too many differences among the indexes available. While the Dewey Decimal Classifications and the LOC Class M are sufficient for the physical library shelves, catalogers now have virtual documents to record. The LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings) and subheadings have been beneficial in helping create digital records, but they are still inadequate. The hope is that collaboration from the Music Library Association and the Library of Congress along with their development of the Resources and Description Access code will aid in creating a more user-friendly, workable database system. RDA is coming. So it would be wise to familiarize oneself with the program. The RDA documents can be found at The fact that it will work in conjuncture with the current library systems (MARC, etc.) should make the implementation in 2013 run smoothly. The use of descriptors in cataloging will greatly aid the music cataloger in organizing music materials in a more searchable manner. There will undoubtedly still be issues pertaining to some materials, such as the phonographs or other audio recordings, but musical scores and sheet

7 music should benefit. Perhaps one day this will include the cataloging of melodies, rhythms, harmonies, and more that can be cross-referenced against each other.

References Bradley, Carol June. 2003. Classifying and cataloguing music in American libraries: A historical overview. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 35 (3-4): 467-481. Curran, Mary. 2009. Cataloging news Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 47 (2): 171-207. Glennan, Kathryn P. 2012. The development of Resource Description & Access and its impact on music materials. Notes 68 (3): 526-534. Hafner, Joseph. 2011. Cataloguing commission. Fontes Artis Musicae 58 (4): 390-391. Kelly, Elizabeth. 2010. Music indexing and retrieval: current problems. Indexer 28 (4): 163-166. Ostrove, Geraldine E. 2001. Music subject cataloging and form/genre implementation at the Library of Congress. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 32 (2): 91-106. Papakhian, A. Ralph. 2000. Cataloging. Notes 56 (3): 581-590. Thompson, Annie F. 1986. Music cataloging in academic libraries and the case for physical decentralization: a survey. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 12 (2): 79-83. Thornburg, Gail and W. Michael Oskins. 2012. Matching music: clustering versus distinguishing records in a large database. OCLC Systems & Services 28 (1): 32-42.