Printer Friendly
The Free Library
23,403,340 articles and books


The major developments in library music cataloging during the recent past are the result of the application of computer and networking technologies and the corresponding organizational efforts to promote cooperative cataloging in that environment. These developments include the promulgation of AACR (and AACR2), the implementation of the MARC music format, the OCLC and RIG (RLIN) networks, and the NACO-Music Project. Despite significant and even extraordinary improvements in both the quantity and quality of music cataloging, we are now confronted by numerous dichotomies: requests for enhanced catalog information (additional contents and analytics) vs. calls for simplification; more cooperative cataloging vs. decreases in staffing; improved catalog access vs. outsourcing; standardization vs. recourse to idiosyncratic database construction; basic catalog access vs. information retrieval schematics; MARC vs. metadata. These and other topics will be explored below.

Music cataloging was transformed with the implementation of the MARC music format [1] by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) in 1978. Despite previous efforts at encouraging cooperative cataloging and catalog-data exchange (most notably the distribution of Library of Congress catalog cards, the National Union Catalog, [2] and the Music Library Association Catalog of Cards for Printed Music, 1953-1972), [3] OCLC's implementation was the single most important advance in this regard. Based on standardized cataloging rules (AACR) [4] and the utilization of networked computer resources, cooperative cataloging for music materials became a reality: cataloging created at one OCLC institution could be used instantaneously by another. This development was continued by similar implementations at the Research Libraries Group (RLG) in 1980 and the Library of Congress in 1985.

As of July 1999, the OCLC database included 1,312,235 bibliographic records for sound recordings (of which the Library of Congress created 153,382). These bibliographic records represented collective holdings of 14,086,298 sound objects. Music was represented by 923,295 bibliographic records (of which the Library of Congress created 55,328), with holdings totaling 7,476,767. Combining the sound recordings and the scores, the OCLC database included 2,235,530 bibliographic records representing 21,563,065 objects (granted that some proportion of the sound is spoken rather than musical). The OCLC WorldCat database is certainly the largest such database of music materials in the world.

As of August 1999, the RLG/RLIN bibliographic files included 1,529,776 catalog records for scores and 1,814,179 records for sound recordings (totaling 3,343,955 records, which do not necessarily represent unique titles). Even though there is considerable duplication between the OCLC and RLG] databases, we can reasonably conclude that the two databases combined provide cataloging data for at least 3,000,000 music score and sound recording items. Cataloging records for music materials are also accessible via several commercial enterprises and from libraries that create such records locally but do not routinely distribute them to central databases. These rather remarkable statistics are presented without regard to the cataloging of other music-library formats (primarily books, serials, microforms, and video recordings).

In addition to bibliographic records, the NACO-Music Project has created 43,417 name or name/title authority records as of September 1998 (with 11,859 modifications to previously existing authority records). The Library of Congress has created thousands of authority records as a result of its normal cataloging activity. And the Library of Congress in ajoint project with OCLC has automatically generated over 60,000 machine-derived authority records.

Building on the successes of these cooperative ventures (OCLC, RLG, and the NACO-Music Project), the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) has recently initiated similar programs for the creation of music bibliographic records coded as fully authorized (BIBCO) and also for the cooperative contribution of music subject terms appropriate for Library of Congress Subject Headings (SACO). These efforts may have a positive impact on the music cataloging environment within the foreseeable future if there is an increase in high-quality, shareable catalog data.

We should not overlook a significant and unique accomplishment of the music library community. The retrospective conversion of the card catalogs of several large academic music libraries in the 1980s and the 1990s was undertaken under the auspices of the Associated Music Libraries Group with funding provided by the Department of Education Title II program. This enabled and expedited the conversion of numerous other library music collections--a feat not duplicated in other disciplines.

Readers unfamiliar with cataloging techniques prior to the use of computers and networks will find it difficult to appreciate the full impact of these technologies on day-to-day work. The cataloger's former armament of typewriters, card stock, pens, pencils, exacto blades, erasers, correction fluid, and so forth, supported by vigorous exercise resulting from constant walking around the library in order to verify information in card and printed catalogs, has been gradually replaced by the sedentary perusal of computer screens, the tapping of computer keyboard keys, complaints about network down time, and, eventually, unbelievable access to a universe of information by means of a few clicks on a World Wide Web browser. This process has accelerated recently as a result of enhancements in personal computes along with the decline in their cost. Mundane routines associated with the physical handling of cataloging cards have been eliminated, and computer-screen manipulation programs have automated routine manual fu nctions involved in searching, verification, copying and pasting data, and so on. The once-heralded promises for the application of artificial intelligence to the cataloging routine (e.g., automated subject analysis or classification), however, have not materialized.

Despite these truly amazing developments in the bibliographic control of music materials, music cataloging and the bibliographic control of music continue to play second fiddle in the library world. It is apparent that the over three million bibliographic records now included in OCLC's WorldCAt and RLG databases, in fact, represent only a fraction of existing musical artifacts. It is relatively easy to calculate the publication of well over ten million pieces of printed music. [5] The universe of sound recording publication is essentially unknown but certainly well over the 1.3 million represented in OCLC. (Several hundreds of thousands of early recordings are represented in the Rigler and Deutsch Record Index, [6] now to be supplemented by the American Vintage Record Labelography.) And the universe of manuscript music and unpublished sound recordings is, obviously, vast. RISM Series A/II. Music MSS after 1600, as a separate RISM Online database, represents a major effort at cataloging over two hundred thous and manuscripts from ca. 1600-1850. It is particularly noteworthy because it is now presented in a Web-based version that includes music incipits. [7] But what proportion of all published and unpublished music materials have ever found their way into libraries? Some categories of music documents have been collected and deposited in libraries--large sheet music collections, for example, mostly poorly cataloged and indexed. Vast areas of material musical culture have simply been lost either because they have not been collected or preserved, or, if collected and placed in libraries, because they have not been controlled by means of a cataloging process.

Simultaneous with the extraordinary accomplishments represented by cooperative cataloging and OCLC, library administrators have been known to express concerns regarding the cost of music cataloging relative to monographic (book) cataloging. In this regard, the music library community has been unsuccessful in communicating the difficulties or requirements of music cataloging relative to books and periodicals. And there continues to be a prejudice against music in libraries. Though electronic resources have been in existence for quite some time now (since 1925, in the form of sound recordings), such resources did not become fashionable in libraries until those resources were essentially textual (CD-ROMs, electronic journals, and various Web-based documents). While we in the music library community quietly and inexplicably concur with administrative wisdom that the cost of cataloging a few hundred thousand pieces of sheet music or 78-rpm discs is "prohibitive," it is also true and apparently acceptable that the OCLC database includes 33,345,846 bibliographic records for books representing some 661,599,909 books held by participating libraries!

Concomitantly, assumptions regarding the processing of music materials seem to be based on the favored library formats (books and textual electronic sources). The library community in general gives little consideration to the distinguishing features of music objects (numbers of titles per recording, existing indexing sources, number of significant contributors, etc.). Music librarians and MLA have struggled to provide additional analytical access in our library catalogs for music materials because of the lack of reliable external indexing sources for music and sound recordings.

A current dichotomy associated with book cataloging also surfaces in music cataloging: a reduction in personnel in cataloging but a desire to increase access by enhancing descriptions with detailed contents notes and controlled access points. There seems to be a perception in certain circles that no human involvement is required for the cataloging process, that automated systems will supply adequate cataloging data and integration of that data into local library catalogs. Presumably, automation will also provide the enhanced access now expected by library clientele. I remain somewhat skeptical. While efficiencies will be achieved because of the enormous success of shared cataloging as well as OCLC's TechPro entry into the arena of contract cataloging, [8] enhanced access will continue to require the work of local music cataloging professionals -- at least in music libraries with collections and budgets of a certain size.

Analysis of locally held materials has long been a service provided by music librarians and continues to be so today. The analysis can be of collections not included in normal cataloging work operations (large gift or purchased collections, sheet music, 78-rpm recordings, etc.) or of various published collections (notably, song anthologies of various kinds). Once again, there is a perception that inclusion of such cataloging within the standard catalog is somehow beyond possibility. The current response to this phenomenon is to create separate databases for each such category of material, databases which are not included in what would be regarded as the national bibliographic database of record (OCLC and RLIN). Again, we see a dichotomy, an opposition between the historical trend of creating a centralized, national, and standard bibliographic database and the newer trend of creating local databases of materials, which for some reason are deemed unworthy of being included in the central database. This may be f or reasons of cost or an assumption that all databases of library materials will be easily searchable in a networkwide search. The question, of course, is whether these databases will be interoperable (a fashionable term in the late 1990s) and interaccessible. These are technical possibilities, certainly. But I wonder if we are in the process of creating a network so complicated that it will become impossible to reconstruct it when it fails or even to use it with any degree of confidence as a resource-discovery mechanism.

The application of computer technology on a network level was accompanied by the development of the sophisticated local Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), which gradually evolved into the Integrated Library System (ILS) and Web-based Public Access Catalog (WebPAC). (I will use "ILS" to mean all three.) These local computer applications, along with the utilization of the revolutionary personal computer, have also contributed to the complete transformation of library cataloging work during the course of the last three decades. Catalog data is now delivered to the information-hungry public immediately upon completion of the processing of materials (and often even before). Tracking of material from selection and ordering to shelf availability is recorded and displayed. Cataloging processes have been modified to take advantage of personal-computer capabilities in relation to ILSs delivered from centralized servers. (Gary Strawn's Cataloger's Toolkit has become a model for automatic verification as well as autom atic generation of authority records.) [9]

Interestingly enough, however, ILSs in both technical- and public-service views have been designed in a chaotic environment, without any requirements for standard displays and features other than a minimum capability to import and export records in the USMARC communications format (now called MARC21). Some librarians would argue that this competitive and commercial process would necessarily result in the development of the most effective systems. But other librarians will observe that many of the successes and efficiencies of American librarianship have resulted from standardization rather than competition. The hurly-burly of OPAC design has resulted in a situation where a library reader can move from library to library (physically or via the Internet) and be confronted with dozens of different catalog display systems and retrieval techniques. Even installations of the same vendor's system will appear and function differently because of local customization. At the same time, no system seems to be able to app ly known sorting standards such as the ALA Filing Rules or Library of Congress Filing Rules. [1]0 Few systems seem to understand the function of authority records. The net result has been the birth of a new minor industry associated with implementing the ANSI/NISO Z39.50 standard in order to overcome the obstacles created by the proliferation of incompatible ILSs. The same situation holds for library personnel using the technical-services modes of ILSs: catalogers now are frequently using multiple systems simultaneously with different searching and editing techniques, different indexing, and so forth. How this state of affairs has contributed to efficiencies for library readers and employees is quite difficult to understand. One might even conclude that librarians have failed professionally in this regard--failed to impose standards on ILSs in order to insure interoperability, ease of use by the clientele, and efficient internal library operations--including cataloging. This situation also describes another d ichotomy--namely, the apparent desire by Web-savvy librarians to have single portals or gateways into the library information environment, in opposition to the proliferation of multiple commercial systems with different indexing and retrieval techniques.

The proliferation of special databases and the extreme interest in local customization of ILS public displays on the part of public-service librarians and administrators is certainly novel. This new interest in the display of electronic catalog data is remarkable in light of a previous lack of interest in the card-catalog environment. The condition known as "cataloger envy" has been identified in the literature to account for this phenomenon. [11] Prior to the appearance of the OPAC, the card catalog was the exclusive domain of the cataloger. Once the OPAC or ILS became visible beyond the card catalog room, everyone seemed to want a hand in designing the system and "interface."

The publication of AACR in 1967 coincided with the first experiments with machine-readable cataloging (MARC). The continued development of both, by gradually incorporating different library materials on the basis of principles and international standards (for example, the International Standard Bibliographic Description [ISBD]), has enabled cooperative cataloging. Despite centrifugal tendencies to sway, the dominance of the rules and the MARC format continues to encourage standardization in library cataloging and technical processing. The publication of AACR also led to considerable research in catalog theory. The implementation of MARC was one of the first large-scale applications of computerized information storage and retrieval.

Future developments in music cataloging are likely to be incremental, unless digital storage and retrieval of recorded and notated music become prevalent quickly. Considerable and fascinating theoretical work on catalog design is underway, focusing on relational database construction, access authority records, bibliographical relationships, and information-retrieval structures. It is unclear how this work will be applied in libraries given the chaotic state of ILSs, the deliberate reduction of cataloging staff, and the inability of existing systems to meet simple catalog objectives (e.g., to clearly display what works a library has by a composer). If current ILSs met basic catalog objectives outlined more than a century ago, [12] collectively we might be more optimistic about transforming catalogs into sophisticated informational-retrieval systems in order to enable clientele to exploit library materials more fully.

My pessimism in this regard would not change dramatically if the digital revolution were to become reality in music. Such a revolution would truly force a migration of library cataloging from AACR and MARC to different metadata or meta-information indexing systems. But at least as currently described, metadatabases can be created automatically by using computer programs designed to extract technical file details from electronic media. It is questionable whether it will be possible to rely on the creators of digital files to also provide reliable and authoritative metadata that can be utilized in anything approaching an ILS. The consequence is human intervention (as in hiring catalogers and indexers). The costs of human activity in cataloging or metadata creation are unlikely to disappear, unless there is significant decrease in the production of musical objects--an unlikely event.

If the digital revolution does occur in music materials soon, such that the bulk of library-held notated and recorded music is converted into and stored in digital media, then we should expect that our current cataloging practices would be altered significantly. Metadata schemas currently unknown to us will have to be developed to index and control access to the digital data simultaneously. This revolution would open avenues of music research and consultation currently difficult to imagine, but I suspect that these kinds of advances (e.g., creating systems that might search or analyze digital sound files directly in terms of melody, harmony, rhythm, etc.) will not be commercially viable for at least a few decades--again because of labor costs being high relative to any possible financial return.

For the immediate future, some music materials will surely be distributed in digital formats via the Internet. The flurry of current metadata activity has been associated with Internet (primarily Web-accessible) resources rather than with analog objects, except for the creation of finding aids for archival collections. The environment is experimental, with metadatabases popping up here and there. The goal of the single portal or gateway is eroding. I predict that this new Babel of metadatabases and ILSs will eventually lead to a renewed call for simplification and standardization, at least in libraries. And actually, OCLC's Cooperative Online Resource Catalog (CORC) Project is a research project investigating the cooperative creation of Web resources. [13] CORC intends to include and mix metadata for physical and digital items. This will be a brave new world only if existing music library collections and future printed and pressed formats are either converted into digital formats or issued as digital documen ts. In the meantime, library-catalog access should not be further confounded. It should be made easier to use than it is now with logically ordered search results and clearly designated guides.

Improved subject analysis of music materials has continued to generate interest, with considerable effort being made to create a music thesaurus along the lines of the Art & Architecture Thesaurus. [14] It will be some time before the thesaurus is funded and developed, and some additional time beyond that before the thesaurus can be applied to existing databases of music library materials. In the meantime, normal subject analysis of library music materials will probably be a continued application of Library of Congress Subject Headings. [15]

Shelf classification of music library materials has not altered remarkably since the last revision of 780 for Dewey in 1979. [16] Most music libraries have been and will continue to use Library of Congress Classification M [17] or Dewey 780 for notated music. Some libraries are also using these schemes for sound recordings, while many simply shelve recordings by label and label number, or by an accession-number system. Public libraries have developed various broad shelving schemes resembling record-store bin arrangements. Since physical browsing will be impossible in the digital-library environment, if the digital library materializes, I would expect to see a renewed interest in systematic classification of digital objects in order to provide virtual browsing.

Finally, I should address the education of future music librarians and music catalogers. The disappearance of graduate programs in music librarianship is an extremely serious problem. The general climate in library and information science education currently discourages professional training in librarianship in favor of training in information science and technology (a.k.a. "Webology"). A formal cataloging course is required for the master's degree in library science in few of the existing graduate programs; advanced cataloging is now rarely even offered. This is the result of an attitude that apparently disregards cataloging as a professional competency. The situation for music cataloging is also glum. Important programs offering specialization in music librarianship have closed (Chicago, Columbia, Geneseo, etc.), and others have reduced education in cataloging considerably (Michigan and Berkeley). The norm for education in music cataloging is now by means of an internship available at only a few schools. T he future market for music librarians and music catalogers will likely determine the arena for appropriate graduate training.

Musical objects--analog or digital, physical items or electronic files--will not disappear anytime soon. Libraries will continue to collect these objects. There is a remote possibility that all musical objects will be digitized and transmitted via a network unlimited in its capacity to deliver multimedia, textual, and musical data in real time. Otherwise, libraries will continue to serve their historic purposes with respect to music materials--to collect, organize, and provide access for the sake of their respective clienteles and for posterity. The mix of formats will certainly change over time. The basic objectives of cataloging will continue to be essential: description and access of materials "held" by the library in an easily usable catalog so that the clientele (including the library staff) can quickly determine whether the library provides access to a known item (by author, title, or subject), or to determine what works by a given composer, or in a given genre, or about a given subject can be accessed . Keyword indexing is a tremendous bonus. Data mining is a bonus. Mapping interesting bibliographic or authorial relationships is a bonus. It would be nice if the basic objectives were met in the near term at least within the context of a local ILS. I predict that in a decade or so we will see a combination of new forms of description incorporating various metadata systems along with advances in indexing and control of digital documents. If technical and social problems are resolved regarding the distribution of digital musical documents, we may see catalogers hired by publishers in order to create metadata for self-indexing networked objects. Certainly we will see some growth in contract cataloging. These kinds of changes in music cataloging are likely to be evolutionary, just as the transformation of the formats of materials acquired by libraries is likely to be evolutionary as a result of social and economic forces. The digital revolution is real, but probably not as expeditious as predicted by the compute r and communications industries.

A. Ralph Papakhian is head of technical services in the William and Gayle Cook Music Library. Indiana University.

(1.) Music, a MARC Format: Specifications for Magnetic Tapes containing Catalog Records for Music Scores (Washington: Library of Congress, 1976).

(2.) National Union Catalog: Music, Books on Music, and Sound Recordings (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1973-89).

(3.) Elizabeth H. Olmsted, Music Library Association Catalog of Cards for Printed Music, 1953-1972: A supplement to the Library of Congress Catalogs. 2 vols. (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1974).

(4.) Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (Chicago: American Library Association. 1967).

(5.) D. W. Krummel. The Literature of Music Bibliography: An Account of the Writings on the History of Music Printing & Publishing (Berkeley, Calif.: Fallen Leaf Press, 1992), 69.

(6.) Rigler and Deutsch Record Index (Syracuse, N.Y.: Mi-kal County-Matic, 1983).

(7.) RISM Online,

(8.) See "The OGLC TechPro Service,"

(9.) See Dorothy Van Geison, "User's Guide to Accompany CLARR, the Cataloger's Toolkit,"

(10.) ALA filing Rules (Chicago: American Library Association, 1980), and John C. Rather and Susan C. Biehel, Library of Congress filing Rules (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1980).

(11.) Ralph Papakhian, "From the Chair," Music OCLC Users Group Newsletter, no. 61 (August 1995): 1.

(12.) "Cutter's objectives." See Public Libraries in the United States of America: Their History, Condition, and Management, part 2, Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalogue, by Charles A. Cutter (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1876), 10.

(13.) See Thomas B. Hickey, "CORC-Cooperative Online Resource Catalog," tm.

(14.) Toni Petersen, Art & Architecture Thesaurus, 3 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, on behalf of the J. Paul Getty Trust, 1990); 2d ed., 5 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

(15.) Library of Congress Subject Headings, 22d ed. (Washington, D.C.: Cataloging Distribution Service, Library of Congress, 1999).

(16.) DDC, Dewey Decimal Classification: Proposed Revision of 780, Music (Albany, N.Y.: Forest Press, 1980). See also Richard B. Wursten, comp., In celebration of Revised 780: Music in the Dewey Decimal Classification, MLA Technical Reports, no. 19 (Canton, Mass.: Music Library Association, 1990).

(17.) Library of Congress Classification, M: Music, Books on Music, 1998 ed. (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress Cataloging Distribution Service, 1999).
COPYRIGHT 2000 Music Library Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
Previous Article:PRESERVATION.
Next Article:TECHNOLOGY.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters