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Cataloging music sound recordings in the United States: an evolution of practice and standards.


The bibliographic control of sound recordings has been an issue ever since libraries began acquiring them. The description of recordings is generally more difficult than that for print materials, due to the prominence of both composers, as creators of the works recorded, and the performer(s) of these works, and also to the anthology-like nature of many recordings. One of the foremost problems with recordings is whether to catalog each work on the recording separately or the entire recording as a unit. The variety of ways in which works have been packaged has necessitated changes to cataloging and description standards over the years in order to consistently display information to users to support their decision making. This account looks back at how the cataloging of sound recordings has been handled over the decades, to provide a historical context in which to place the development and adoption of Resource Description and Access (RDA) as it relates to description and access of sound recordings.


The bibliographic control of sound recordings has been an issue ever since libraries began acquiring them in the 1920s and 1930s. It quickly became apparent that the description of (and access to) recordings is generally more difficult than that for print materials, due primarily to the prominence of both composers, as creators of the works recorded, and the performer(s) of these works, and also to the anthology-like nature of many recordings. As Gordon Stevenson noted in 1963, "We are not classifying monographs, but 'bound withs.'" (1) One of the foremost problems with recordings is whether to catalog each work on the recording separately, or the entire recording as a unit.

The purpose of this account is to look back at how the cataloging of sound recordings has been handled over the decades, including the issue of unit of cataloging, in order to provide a historical context in which to place the development and adoption of Resource Description and Access (RDA) as it relates to the cataloging of sound recordings. Analysis and comparisons of early local practices, the evolving standards, and their interpretations will be presented primarily chronologically, in order to reflect changes in sound recording technologies and cataloging practices.

It is hoped that this project will contribute to research in library history and the development of cataloging standards. This paper will follow the outline below:

* Introduction: The beginnings of sound recordings and their use in libraries

* 1930s-1950s: From local practices to national standards

* 1960s-1980s: From scores and recordings to consolidated treatment of formats

* 1990s-2010s: From description to access

* Conclusion: The more things change....


In 1877, Thomas Edison constructed the first device capable of capturing and reproducing sound. This marked the beginning of the development of a nonvisual technology for the recording and dissemination of information. For the first twenty years or so, however, it was mainly a novelty. It was only after 1898 that mechanical refinements to the phonograph, in addition to the stability of wax cylinders and plastic discs, led to a rapid increase in its popularity.

Around 1910, libraries began to recognize public interest in nonprint formats. One of the earliest published mentions of sound recordings in libraries was by Arthur E. Bostwick in his book, The American Public Library (1910), in which he cites the use of phonograph records in his support for the circulation of music in any format, which was seldom done at the time:

   Music, in the average public library, is probably of more value as
   part of the circulating than of the reference collection, yet the
   largest and best collections in the United States are held for use
   in the library, where they are of value to no one but the student.
   In libraries where music is circulated the demand for it is great,
   and it would seem that the library may be able to play a great part
   in the popularization of good music. The circulation of pianola
   rolls and of phonograph records has also been proposed, with the
   same end in view, and has even been tried experimentally in one or
   two places. (2)

Bostwick does not go on to elaborate on which places tried this or when. Yet, his statement represents early thinking on the potential importance of circulating nonprint materials.

The year 1911 brought some of the earliest announcements of the use of phonographs in libraries. Of particular note is that in March of that year, the Library Concurrent contained an announcement that "music rolls" were available for circulation in the Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana, and that "a card system similar to that used in book circulation will be arranged for the music rolls. This is the first library in the State to introduce this new feature of library work." (3) It is not clear from the announcement if the "first" refers to the circulation of music rolls, or to the card system set up for that circulation, or both. Nevertheless, it represents one of the first published acknowledgments of an organizational system for tracking nonbook items.

Thereafter, reports of phonograph concerts appear frequently, but no further discussions appeared on the procedural aspects of handling the recordings themselves, until a commentary by R. R. Bowker in the Library Journal (1915):

      The use of phonograph cylinders has been so supplanted for
   musical purposed by disc records for the later types of
   instruments ... that libraries nowadays purchase almost exclusively
   the latter class of records. Both the Victrola and Columbia catalogs
   are models of catalog work and should be on the shelves of every
   library for ready reference. [They] are in fact useful musical
   dictionaries in themselves. (4)

As noted above, the disc-playing Victrolas were becoming popular for outreach and programming in libraries in the 1910s. But the topic of cataloging and classification specifically of sound recordings did not surface as a notable issue until 1926, when Edah F. Burnett of the St. Paul Public Library wrote about the phonograph records that the library started collecting "13 years ago" (meaning 1913). "It has been found necessary to catalog each record quite fully. Cards are made for the composer, title, artist, subject, and [record] number." (5)

In 1931, RCA Victor developed a long-playing disc (33 1/3 rpm), but did not make correspondingly inexpensive machines to play them, which was odd as a business move, since this occurred during the Great Depression. The Depression itself undoubtedly contributed to the decline in the popularity of recorded sound. One could not buy what was perceived to be a luxury. (6)


The period of the 1930s-1940s was when work began in earnest on cataloging and classifying sound recordings. Were libraries a counterforce to the perceived decline in popularity of recorded sound--as represented by the growing popularity of radio, and the crises of the Great Depression and then World War II? Bostwick noted in 1937 a contrast between phonograph records and radio:

      The ordinary disk records ... are easily obtainable and although
   they require no knowledge of music for reproduction, they have
   played and are playing their part in furthering musical
   appreciation. The radio is lessening their popular use, but they
   will always have uses that the radio does not possess. They are
   records and are available whenever wanted, whereas the radio
   furnishes us programs devised by someone else--programs that we may
   take or leave, but which we can neither select nor control.

      The phonograph record, therefore, is eminently adapted for
   preservation in a library. Some few are taking advantage of it, and
   we may look to the future to see it as a recognized part of every
   library's musical collection. (7)

The cataloging of music, in both print and recorded forms, was a primary factor in the formation of the Music Library Association (MLA) in 1931. (8) Although public consumption and ownership of sound recordings had waned considerably because of the Depression, libraries continued to provide access to them and events highlighting them, mainly in the form of Victrola concerts. Cataloging and classification of recordings, as collections grew, became a concern for keeping them organized. The minutes of a meeting of the Music Library Association in 1932 reflect the beginnings of collaborations within the association to meet these needs:

      There was some discussion of a code for cataloguing phonograph
   records. Mr. Mark called attention to the fact that certain
   valuable information concerning the different recordings of musical
   compositions such as tone, whether or not there were cuts etc. etc.
   should be available. He suggested that an annotated list of records
   giving this information would be of great value. It was stated that
   Mr. Philip Miller of the New York Public Library was making such a
   list and that probably cards for the records he had so cataloged
   could be made available to libraries. The Secretary was instructed
   to send to Mr. Mark information regarding any persons who are
   authorities upon this subject of phonograph records. (9)

It would take several years for any progress on the cataloging of sound recordings to manifest itself under the auspices of the Music Library Association. In the meantime, several libraries presented their own solutions to the issues encountered by growing collections of phonograph records. In 1933, for example, Irene F. Jaynes of the Springfield (Massachusetts) City Library wrote:

      Just ten years ago an experiment was begun by the City Library of
   Springfield, Massachusetts, in what is still somewhat of an
   innovation in public library work; that is, the general lending of
   phonograph records....

      A catalog of the collection has been made, with cards for
   composer, title, artist, instrument, kind of music, and other
   helpful entries. Each record is kept filed under its own number and
   a charging card is made out containing the number, the title and
   composer, and one word for designation-- orchestra, vocal, violin,
   etc. These cards are kept in a file which the borrower may examine
   if he does not want to consult the catalog for a definite type or
   piece of music. (10)

Later in 1933, one of the first published systematic sets of rules for cataloging sound recordings appeared in Library Journal. Ralph E. Ellsworth presented nine rules for cataloging phonograph records. It is based on a system created by "the librarian of the Adams State Teachers College of Southern Colorado ... outlined here in hopes that it will be useful to others." He posits: "The question of how to handle records in the library is a vexing one. Certainly the records are as important as books in this field, and they deserve as careful attention from the librarian. This includes both the cataloging and shelving methods. There is no more reason for using an abbreviated form for cataloging records than there is for books." (11)

Ellsworth's nine rules are summarized in the first row of table 1. As presented in the text of the article, they are not comprehensive; it is necessary to look at the examples he provides, particularly for "rule two" (form of card), in order to see all the elements that are considered necessary for adequate cataloging of sound recordings (see fig. I). (12)

Guy R. Lyle and Rose Krauskopf wrote in 1934 about the collection of recordings at Antioch College, which was started with a portion of funds donated by the class of 1928, with the stipulation that the recordings were to circulate the same as books, which "was something of an innovation." Lyle and Krauskopf cite Ellsworth (1933) as the primary guide for cataloging phonograph records. Main entry at Antioch, however, is composer, not title:

   Suffice to say that the main entry is made under the composer's
   name, with cross-reference from the title of the work. Full notes
   on the main card give the act and scene, if the work is operatic,
   the name of the artist or orchestra and, if there are selections on
   both sides of the record, the composer and title of the selection
   on the reverse. No accession record is kept, but subject cards and
   shelf list records have proved useful. (13)

By 1934, public interest for recorded sound started to build again, leading to products such as portable turntables that could be connected to radios and jukeboxes. (14) The industry built up and thrived until 1941 when the United States entered into World War II, and importation of raw materials was severely curtailed. (15)

In the period before the war during which recordings became popular again, libraries were becoming more cognizant of the public's desire for recordings to listen to. Discussions continued with MLA, but progress remained elusive. A 1936 report showed that the status of the issue remained as it had in 1932:

   Phonograph-record cataloguing code. A code for cataloguing
   phonograph records was prepared several years ago by Mr. Jeffrey
   Mark and circulated to some of the members of the MLA. A promised
   revision and report has not been presented. In the meantime, Mr.
   Philip Miller, of the staff of the Music Division of the New York
   Public Library, has prepared a printed-card catalogue of the
   phonograph records in the revised College Music Set prepared by the
   Carnegie Corporation. His procedure is not in code form, but is
   being studied by the Columbia Music Library with a view to adopting
   it as a code for cataloguing its record collection. Mr. Miller was
   made chairman of a MLA committee which will draft a code. The other
   members are Miss Gladys Chamberlain, Music Library 58th Street, New
   York; and Miss Daisy Fansler, Music Librarian of the Philadelphia
   Free Library. (16)

The year 1937 brought a burst of publication of several systems for cataloging sound recordings, four of which are represented here. Three of them are systems drawn up for specific collections or types of collections; the fourth was designed for general practice under the auspices of the Music Library Association. Articles describing these systems are summarized below, and also itemized for comparison in table 1.

Ethel Louise Lyman presented a system devised for use at Smith College. Main entry is composer, and additional entries are to be made for subject, series, and title, "with full analytical entries for individual composers." Records issued in series are kept together. "The analytical entries for each composer bring the works of that composer under one heading in the catalog." Reverse sides and last sides are listed on main entry cards, and then get their own "author, title and subject analytics.... The treatment is the same as for books and scores...." (17)

Dorothy G. Amesbury described the situation in the Music Department of the Minneapolis Public Library, where public browsing of the shelves was permitted. "The cataloging and classifying process has been patterned exactly after that used for books...." (18) Main entry is under composer for the piece on the "A" side of the disc. The reverse side is treated as an analytic, implying that the unit of cataloging is the disc. Added entries are supplied as needed, for subject, title, performer, and so on:

   "Collation" gives size of record and number of sides, "Imprint"
   gives make of record, manufacturer's number, and type, and "Notes"
   are used when necessary. The system of subject-headings and
   secondary entries was patterned after that used in our regular book
   catalog. We have, in addition to the main author entries, subject
   entries--as many as needed--title entries, and general secondaries
   for performers, etc.

   In comparison with most systems, this one seems extremely detailed.
   The additional value received per extra minute and space devoted,
   however, more than compensates for the trouble. The result is a
   uniform catalog that is flexible enough to handle the most trying
   case and expansive enough to handle our collection no matter how
   large. It is as useful to the person looking for a performance by
   Kreisler, as the one interested in compositions by Wagner, and the
   one who wants "Perfect Day" and can't recall the composer's name.

   The appreciation students may turn to our various subjects and pick
   out the particular type of music they wish to study or choose a
   designated interpretation by a prominent conductor. In fact, this
   catalog is equally valuable to the public and to the staff. That,
   in the last analysis, determines any catalog's actual worth. (19)

Harold Spivacke at the Library of Congress noted that folk-song collections were growing in popularity, and that

      ... the question of their availability to the public becomes more
   apparent. The lack of suitable rules for the cataloging of this
   material was brought to our attention ... with the development of
   the Archive of American Folk-Song....

      Those who expect to be given a complete set of rules at this time
   will probably be disappointed, as the cataloging of the records is
   still in an experimental stage. Though rules will be put forward,
   they are to be regarded as mere suggestions which I hope will
   stimulate discussion. Any further delay in the consideration of the
   problems involved may lead to that lack of unanimity which prevails
   in other branches of music cataloging and which is the result of a
   long period of independent action by individual libraries when
   cooperative discussion could have proven so much more productive of

      The plan here proposed was developed from the outset with the
   idea of following as closely as possible the established cataloging
   methods. Modifications, of course, were necessary owing to the
   peculiar characteristics of the folk-song records. (20)

Spivacke's rules may be summarized in eight general categories, which are outlined below (numbering is not present in the original article, but is used here for ease of discussion). Unfortunately, Spivacke did not include illustrations or examples of completed cards.

1. Unit of cataloging: song versus disc. Unrelated songs on one disc make it unwieldy to treat the disc as the unit of cataloging. In addition, the typical researcher is interested in finding a particular song. "Since the songs, not the discs, are to be cataloged, the subject under discussion might better be referred to as the cataloging of recorded folk-songs than as the cataloging of folk-song records." (21)

2. Main entry: title. Most folk songs are considered to be anonymous. Further, a major problem with title main entry is title variants; that is, many folk songs have more than one title. Each song is entered under the title as given on the recording, with a standard title as added entry. (The standard title may arbitrarily be the title of the first version acquired by the library.)

   A "see-also" reference leads the user of the catalog to the
   standard title where he will find cards for all the different
   versions of the same song filed together. Since the standard titles
   are used in added entries only, they can be changed, if necessary,
   without disturbing the body of the card. In this way, the catalog
   may become a bibliographical instrument of the greatest importance
   to the student of folk-songs. (22)

3. Other elements (what we now call "statement of responsibility"): After title, name of singer, and/or group (signified, for example, "sung by...").

4. "Imprint": Place where recorded, name of collector, date.

5. Collation replaced by playing time (duration of song).

6. Notes: (1) First line and refrain, especially if they are different from the title; (2) "Relationship between the version of the song being cataloged and the version whose title has been adopted as standard ..." by a statement along the lines of "Variant of [standard title]"; (3) Other notes, such as the "conditions under which the record was made" or about the singer, or if the record is the basis for a published version of the song text.

7. Added entries for singer and collector.

8. Although not directly related to descriptive cataloging, Spivacke calls unequivocally for a "classified catalog" and for the liberal use of entries for subjects and entry subdivisions that may be useful in fulfilling user requests for "songs of a distinct type, about a certain subject, or common to a certain locality." (23)

Philip L. Miller's paper, "Cataloging and Filing of Phonograph Records," in the July 1937 issue of Library Journal, is the first systematic presentation of rules for cataloging sound recordings that was drawn up by a body of librarians, and that was intended to guide general practice as opposed to being a system designed for the specific needs of a particular collection or devised by a single individual.

Miller's rules assert that "[u]nlike books or music, records should be cataloged by the music they contain, without regard to their physical form." (24) That is, the unit of cataloging is each piece, not the disc as a whole. Main entry is to be by composer (under the same principles as for scores) with added entries for title, artist, form, and "subject or medium." Miller clearly states that the aim "has been to follow as closely as possible the practices of regular music cataloging." (25) A "standardized title system" should be used since labels on recordings were notorious for being wrong, and the original title in the original language should also be provided in brackets, if it is not on the label. Standard titles are to be made in the same manner as for scores. The "label title" should follow after the standard and original titles. All of the title information should be made in paragraph form.

Miller identifies nine minimum "essential" points of information: (1) composer, (2) title, (3) number of sides, (4) issuing company, (5) number, (6) size, (7) artist, (8) reverse side, and (9) same side if two pieces occupy one side. "Desirable" information includes seven additional points, if applicable: (1) reference to score, (2) author of text and original language plus language in which it is sung if the work is a vocal piece, (3) number of movements, (4) opening theme, (5) date of recording, (6) date of issue, and (7) matrix number. (26)

The issuing company and number are to be treated in place of the "imprint," with the date of issue (year) to appear in the same paragraph. If the date of recording is available, it follows the date of issue. The number of sides and size of the discs follow the date(s) in a new paragraph; this information is followed by the matrix number. If the recording was made by acoustic methods (as opposed to electric), this is given in the first note. Subsequent notes include artist and/or group, contents, other works on the same side, works on the reverse side.

While the Committee on Cataloging Phonograph Records was drafting its guidelines along the lines that Miller laid out, Eva Judd O'Meara, one of the founding members of the Music Library Association, was already involved with the American Library Association's Committee on Code Revision, which was working to revise the 1908 cataloging code. (27) She further represented the Music Library Association to that committee, so that general rules for author and title entries could be revised to be amenable to music cataloging (which, at the time, primarily meant scores). As noted above, Miller's group aimed to adhere as closely as possible to the practices for "regular" music cataloging. But those practices were in flux and were widely viewed by many in the Music Library Association to be not yet standardized. O'Meara considered the standardization of music cataloging to be in the purview of the Music Library Association. She suggested that "very few rules be included" in the AT A revision, and that catalogers refer to "a proposed special pamphlet on the subject to be issued by the Music Library Association." She elaborated her position to Rudolph Gjelsness, the chair of the ALA committee:

      A thorough study of the problems of music cataloging is needed.
   At the present time there is little in the way of an accepted
   standard; each library has worked out its own way of doing-in many
   cases with little regard for general cataloguing principles....

      In the desire to bring about a better state of things the Music
   Library Association is ready to take responsibility for the
   preparation of a handbook on music cataloguing.... With this to
   supplement the A.L.A. Code, entries for music in the Code could be
   limited to a few headings: the most necessary, those on which there
   is some degree of unanimity, and those ... must be extended to
   cover musical works. Reference could be made from the Code to the
   fuller treatment in the handbook. (28)

At the same meeting in June 1937 that Miller presented the report of the phonograph records committee, O'Meara, having received Gjelsness's support, presented her suggestion to MLA, which approved. Miller's report was accepted, and it was further moved and approved that the proposed code for cataloging phonograph records be "tried out and reported on at the next meeting." (29)

Despite articles such as those that appeared in 1937, libraries were still devising practices and procedures within the context of their own collections. ALA and MLA still had yet to publish the hoped-for codes for cataloging music and recordings. For example, in 1940 Lucile M. Morsch (who later became a chief of the Descriptive Cataloging Division at the Library of Congress) prepared the Catalog Department Manual: The Enoch Pratt Free Library, which contains a short section on the treatment of phonograph records at the end of the chapter on cataloging music. The Carnegie music set and "the deposit collection of the Phonograph Club" are treated separately. The unit of cataloging is the work. Main entry is composer, and added entries are made for form, medium, artist, and title. "Standardized title" and cross-references are constructed in the same manner as for scores. "Imprint" is issuing company and record number. Collation comprises number of sides, or portion of a side that a work takes up, and the diameter of the disc in inches. Notes are added for artist, author of text and language, and a statement of other works on the disc (both sides). If a reverse side is blank, it is noted as "Reverse blank." Morsch provides an example describing the cataloging for two works on the same disc (see fig. 2). (30)

In January 1940, George Sherman Dickinson, president of MLA at the time, gave O'Meara explicit instruction to work "Mr. Miller's material" into a code. He goes on to state, "The reason the phonograph material was sent to you was to profit by any of your recent experience in code making." (31)

At the same time that MLA was experiencing delays to the records cataloging code, ALA was dealing with delays of its own. Revisions to the ALA cataloging code received objections from a number of catalogers who pushed for simplification of the revised ALA code. Everett O. Fontaine (chief, Publishing Department, American Library Association) subsequently reached out to Dickinson regarding the delays for the additional revision, and the possibility of disagreements between the simplified ALA code and the music cataloging code that had been forwarded to the ALA Committee on Cataloging and Classification:

      Should the revision be in the direction of simplification and
   should we publish the music code virtually as it now stands, there
   might be considerable disagreement between the two....

      ... postponement might result in another gain. You remember our
   recent correspondence regarding a M.L.A. project looking toward the
   preparation of a manual on the cataloging of phonograph records. If
   while we are waiting on the code that project could be completed, I
   should like very much to see the cataloging of records incorporated
   in the music cataloging manual. In my opinion there would be a
   definite gain in combining them; they would cost less in one book
   than in two, it would be easier for us to sell and distribute one
   title instead of two, and users would find in one place everything
   on the cataloging of music materials. (32)

MLA managed to push on, and a preliminary draft of the Code for Cataloging Phonograph Records was finished in October 1940 and apparently circulated for comments. (33)

O'Meara's report on the code revision, presented at the November 1940 meeting of MLA in Providence, included elaboration of Fontaine's position. The push for simplification of the cataloging code came as a result of a study of expenditures conducted by the Library of Congress. Cataloging under the revised code, which was considerably more expansive than the 1908 edition, was found to be too expensive for the Library of Congress to maintain. At the November 1940 MLA meeting, it was assumed that the code for cataloging music would still be handled separately by MLA. In the April 1941 issue of Notes, however, O'Meara amended her report to update the membership on the situation: Fontaine's suggestion of a limited preliminary edition was to prevail, and a separate MLA code would be deferred. The limited edition would carry a separate chapter on the treatment of entry and heading in music cataloging. But independently of Fontaine's suggestion, MLA would still plan to publish one or more chapters for its membership for testing and comment as well. (34) Over the course of 1941 and 1942, MLA issued Code for Cataloging Music, one mimeographed chapter at a time: Entry and Heading--Title--Imprint--Collation--Notes. The Code for Cataloging Phonograph Records was published separately by the association in 1942 (see discussion below).

In the midst of all this, in December 1941 the United States was drawn into World War II. The war effort had a quick and large impact on the sound-recording industry. Materially, the war interrupted import of shellac, which was necessary for finishing discs. Moreover, radio and phonograph manufacturers turned to war production, and production of recordings in the U.S. almost completely stopped. (35) Nevertheless, the American Library Association and Music Library Association continued their efforts on revising cataloging codes for books and music materials, including recordings.

As noted above, in 1942 the MLA issued its Code for Cataloging Phonograph Records. It is an expanded and formalized version of Miller's rules. The principle behind the main entry is primarily the same: "The unit of entry is the individual work," (36) that is, not the whole item in hand. The main entry for each work is established in the same manner as for a printed score, as found in "Entry and Heading" of the MLA Code for Cataloging Music. Table 2 presents the twenty-four items in the code that are deemed as being necessary for a complete description of recorded works. As noted in the text, "The order in which the items are arranged suggests the order in which they may appear on the card." (37) The numbering here is the same as that used in the published code. The letters "d" and "e" indicate the "desired" and "essential" elements of Miller's 1937 rules.

The 1942 MLA phonograph-records code contains many examples of cards for specific situations, but does not show a generic card example in the manner of Ellsworth's "Example of rule two." But based on the instructions in the code, this author has produced two generic layouts, as shown in figure 3.

It also bears noting that, although the title indicates that the code is for phonograph records, and is itself geared toward discs of commercial origin, cylinders and "instantaneous recordings" (recordings cut on the spot or "live") are also treated, as are books with accompanying recordings. This is perhaps the first cataloging treatment that formally acknowledges the diversity of the audio media that were extant at the time.

Even with the standardization of the rules for cataloging music and sound recordings, some libraries still found it cumbersome, especially if they did not have expertise in music. For example, in 1944, Sidney Butler Smith of the Union College Library rather bluntly wrote:

      The Union College Library has just reorganized ... its collection
   of records. Much has been done to simplify procedures for a small
   but growing collection of both musical and speech discs.... Ours is
   not a music library in any sense of the word, and we do not
   anticipate having one.... We are interested in making available to
   undergraduates with as little trouble as possible to them (and to
   ourselves) the albums in our collection. (38)

That said, the "simplified procedures" Smith lays out generally follow the 1942 rules with some exceptions. The unit of cataloging is not explicitly stated, but appears to be disc or album, instead of each work. Main entry is composer, or artist/performing group if that is the unifying element for selections in a single album. Chief source of information is the label. Imprint includes manufacturer and album number or record number. Collation is number of discs and size. Added entries are made for title, artist, orchestra, and conductor. The title is usually given in original language with English translation in parentheses, unless the title is known exclusively in English. Title cards for original titles and translated titles are made as needed, as well as also for popular titles and excerpts from larger works (under the name of the work). Added entries for titles beginning with name of musical form (e.g., "concerto" or "symphony") are by form first, then composer. As may be seen, added entries are generously treated, but the level of description and use of notes, as found in the 1942 rules, is minimal at most.

Fig. 3. Two generic card layouts as inferred from the instructions
in the MLA Code (1942)

A. When trade name is not used in the "imprint" field:

Main entry.

   [Conventional title]
   ... Label or album tide ... Place of publication, Producer.
   [Date of issue or recording] Matrix number.
   Number of sides. Size in inches. (Series note)

   First note: Album number; disc numbers
   Method of recording
   Date of recording, if date of issue is present
   Medium of performance
   Language of text
   Author of text
   Analytical booklet/accompanying notes
   Complete identification if recording is of excerpts
   Other works on same disc
   Another work on reverse or odd side

B. When trade name is used in the "imprint" field: "For well-known,
domestic recording companies, trade name may be used instead of
place of publication and producer's full name." (1942 MLA Code, p. 5)

   [Notes exemplified in part A are not repeated here to save space.]

Main entry.
   [Conventional (standard) title]
   ... Label or album title ... Trade name disc numbers [Date of
issue or recording]
Matrix number.
   Number of sides. Size in inches. (Series note)

By the autumn of 1944, there was recognition that the Code for Cataloging Music needed revision. It had gone out of print, but the September 1944 issue of Notes contained an announcement that it would be reprinted for a short run, and then would not be available again, but would be superseded by the revision. (39) The December 1944 issue of Notes contained the first published suggestion of a joint committee between MLA and ALA for revising the Code for Cataloging Music. (40)

In spite of the publication status of the 1942 code, it was subsequently referred to in articles that continued to appear occasionally on the issues revolving around the cataloging of recordings. For example, in 1945, Inez Haskell, of the Wasco County Library in Oregon, summarized a number of different practices from 1933 through 1944, with some emphasis on the 1942 MLA code. She favorably notes Miller's differentiation between "essential" and "desirable" elements, however, and is careful to acknowledge that libraries still need to tailor details to suit local needs, especially for smaller libraries.

      Since records require somewhat different handling from other
   music, the first libraries to start such collections were forced to
   improvise systems of their own. Thus because adequate rules failed
   to be drawn up in time, a great variety of methods, each drawn to
   an individual need, has resulted. In order to improve this
   situation, a committee sponsored by the Music Library Association
   studied the situation and in 1942 issued its Code for Cataloging
   Phonograph Records. This Code has been widely studied, but rarely
   adopted entirely either because of the previous use of some other
   system or because it was felt it did not adequately fill the needs
   of the individual library... (41)

      The purpose of the Code has been to standardize procedures, and
   it is by far the most valuable contribution to the field.
   Nevertheless, the individual library must decide the amount of
   detail which it will use.... such very full information would be
   practical only for a very large collection. The Code is an
   excellent guide for form and advisable information, but for a small
   collection would be too full. (42)

Haskell briefly discusses the "controversy" over the best form of main entry, that is, composer or title. She further points to the trend toward composer, as author is usually the main entre for books. Haskell carries the analogy further to say that added entries "should be similar to those for books" (43) so that where main entry is composer, added entries should be made for title, and vice versa. She also advocates for author-title analytics for reverse sides (when they are unrelated works), as well as added entries for performers and subjects, which she particularly stresses. She acknowledges the general practice (including in the MLA code) for foreign-language titles in the original language with English translation in parentheses.

Haskell also briefly mentions the MLA code's treatment of folk-song recordings, which closely follows Spivacke's (1937) suggestions (see discussion above). She does emphasize that "[n]otes should be comprehensive but brief, and added entries should be exhaustive." (44)

A year later (1946), Helen Maywhort discussed the treatment of recordings at Temple University's Sullivan Memorial Library. Her article presents adaptations of MLA's 1942 code and the Enoch Pratt Free Library manual. Main entry is usually the composer. Unit of cataloging appears generally to be each work, but individually issued discs also get an entry. As prescribed by the MLA code, conventional title is given in original language, and goes in brackets on the second line; the label title is given under the conventional title.

Maywhort calls for liberal use of cross-references: for titles, from the original language to the language used on the recording; popular and variant titles to conventional title; from parts or excerpts of works to title of whole work, subdivided by the part or excerpt. Conventional titles built on forms (e.g., concertos, symphonies) are filed under composer.

Imprint comprises place of production and producer. Date of issue is omitted unless it is on the disc itself. Omit matrix number. Collation comprises number of sides or fraction of a side plus size of disc in inches. For sets with multiple albums, include number of volumes. If issued in a series, include series note in parentheses after collation.

Notes are given in a prescribed order, on a par with the 1942 MLA code, but with some noticeable differences:

1. Trade name, album number, disc number

2. Album title

3. Original producer

4. "Notes on the recording (e.g. Imported recording, Recorded in Europe ...)"

5. Arrangement and arranger

6. Performer and medium of performance

7. Language of text

8. Author of text

9. Analytical booklet or descriptive notes

10. Contents

11. Other works on disc: same side or reverse side

12. Another work on last side of set

Contents notes are made for collections, suites, and so on, but not for symphonies, tone poems, etc. Added entries are made for performers, title, author of text, and composer of original theme in variations. (45)

An official announcement concerning the long-awaited revision of the Code for Cataloging Music (that is, scores) was finally made in June 1946: "It was announced that the Music Library Association Code for Cataloging Music, now in preliminary form, will soon be revised for publication in final form. It is to be in two parts: the code itself and a handbook amplifying the code. The publication will be the result of the work of a joint ALA-MLA committee." (46)

By 1947, the revision was not yet finished. An update in the March 1947 issue of Notes contained this statement, "... members of the Committee had so many important and interesting suggestions to make for changes that it began to look as if it might take at least two years to finish the revising." The association voted to investigate reprinting yet again the out-of-print preliminary code. (47)

The revised version, Music Library Association Code for Cataloging Music and Phonorecords, which finally incorporated both print and recorded formats, would be published in 1958. In the interim, the preliminary version of the code for (print) music, in combination with the 1942 code for cataloging recordings, continued to be freely adapted to suit local needs.

Even as the problems with the revised code carried on, however, some libraries still chose to devise their own practice and not to follow the MLA code. For example, the Worcester (Massachusetts) Free Public Library, as reported by Muriel Kemp in 1948, used "form card" cataloging. Main entry is by conventional title in square brackets, with copious author-title and variant title cross-references. If album title varies from conventional title, it is given on the line below. Added entries include, but are not limited to, form and medium, arrangers, artists, accompanists, orchestras, conductors, and so on. Names are qualified by role, such as arranger, violinist, conductor, etc. (in essence what today we would call "relationship designators"). Remaining parts of the 4" x 6" "form card"--a generic example of which is pictured in the article (48) (see fig. 4)--were not elaborated upon in the article: issuing company, number of sides, size of disc, album number, disc number, contents notes. Notes regarding the medium, or works on the same side or reverse side, could be added to the left side. Unfortunately, the article does not include an example of a completed card.
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Title Annotation:p. 276-302
Author:Strader, C. Rockelle
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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