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Music Description and Access: Solving the Puzzle of Cataloging.

Music Description and Access: Solving the Puzzle of Cataloging. By Jean Harden. (Music Library Association Technical Reports Series, v. 34.) Middleton, WI: Music Library Association and A-R Editions, 2018. [xviii, 354 p. ISBN 9780895798480 (paperback), $100.] Illustrations, bibliography, index.

In my review of the fourth edition of Richard P. Smiraglia's Describing Music Materials (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017) in last year's volume of Notes (vol. 75, no. 1 [September 2018]: 118-21), I lamented that a comparative analysis of that and the present work (published just one year later) was beyond the scope of the review. Happily, the opportunity has now arrived to evaluate the present work as yet another robust tool for practitioners of music cataloging. Like Smiraglia, Jean Harden is a cataloging instructor in a postgraduate setting (at the University of North Texas). To this she adds her experience as a music cataloger in her own right (since the early 1990s) and as a supervisor of countless student assistants to whom she has taught the art of music cataloging-many of whom have gone on to professional careers in music librarianship. She also brings to bear expertise gained from her direct involvement in the development of Resource Description and Access (RDA) through service to the Music Library Association and the RDA Steering Committee's Music Working Group.

As Harden notes in the preface, this work is primarily a textbook on music cataloging but can also serve as a ready-reference tool for practicing catalogers.

The book divides into two main parts. Part 1, "Setting the Stage," lays out the purposes and underlying concepts of music cataloging and traces the history of cataloging practice (and music cataloging specifically) from the early modern period at the Bodleian Library, through the work of Charles A. Cutter and Seymour Lubetzky, to Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR, now superseded by the Library Reference Model (LRM)) of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and RDA in the present era. In addition, she includes several "historical asides" that treat a specific aspect of music cataloging in the context of the topic (for example, "Title proper" and "Inaccuracies," both on p. 59). This robust historical treatment is not strictly critical to the purpose of the book, but its presence adds a layer of polish. After all, a fully formed music cataloger needs not only to address the question What? (to do) but also Why? (it is done this way).

Part 2, "Practical Cataloging," addresses in turn the various bibliographic entities described in FRBR (and now LRM): manifestation and item (the usually published "things" being cataloged), works and expressions (the intellectual or creative essence of the content), and persons and corporate bodies (agents associated in some way with the above). Subsequently, access points and relationships are described; these are the structured descriptions of bibliographic entities and their interrelationships, allowing precise retrieval in a library catalog. Along the way, Harden gives detailed guidance on encoding attributes of these entities in the Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC21) formats. Whereas Smiraglia gives full MARC21 bibliographic examples in his appendix without commentary, Harden describes each MARC21 field in detail, employing numerous interstitial examples to illustrate the ornate practices called for by the standard; that said, she does not give full-record examples.

Another welcome component that is lacking in Smiraglia's book is Harden's discussion of the function of authority records (encoded in the MARC21 authority format) in music cataloging. Music catalogers are heavy users of authority records, which describe and disambiguate persons, corporate bodies, and (most especially) musical works and expressions. To wit, Harden addresses authority records in both chapter 6 ("Manifestation, Item, and Carrier in MARC") and chapter 7 ("Works and Expressions"). In fact, much of chapter 7 presumes that the MARC21 authority format will be used to record information about these entities; the use of textual access points (e.g., "Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791. Nozze di Figaro") to identify them in bibliographic records is treated later, in chapter 9. The section in chapter 9 on determining the preferred title for a musical work is particularly excellent and is a great example of the function of a cataloging textbook not merely to gloss the standards, but also to describe the thought process required in order to apply what are at times opaque instructions in those standards. Harden's decades of cataloging and instruction experience come to bear most obviously here.

Unfortunately, MARC21 is a continuously evolving suite of encoding standards, and so the book is slightly out of date in that regard. For example, the availability of an indicator value for the 028 field to designate distributor's number (namely, first indicator "6"), which was defined in the standard in 2016, is absent from the section on this field. Additionally, the section on the various physical attribute fields (340, 344, 347, etc.) does not address recent encoding changes to incorporate the availability of new RDA code lists defined for each subelement, which appear in subfield $2 of these fields (e.g., "rdacpc" for "configuration of playback channels"). As one might expect, the delays associated with book publishing practically guarantee such discrepancies, so this is not a critique of the author but rather a caveat to the reader.

The RDA content standard is also a moving target and in fact is currently undergoing a significant revision (the so-called "3-R Project"; more information at, accessed 12 April 2019), which involves restructuring the entirety of the RDA text, transforming it from a linear set of chapters to a nonhierarchical data dictionary. This includes removing instruction numbers, which have become convenient shorthand for conversations among catalogers and for cataloging guidance tools. Quite presciently, Harden does not cite RDA instructions by number in her work, instead describing entities and attributes by name and function. Although many of these names are also changing in the 3-R Project, the reader should be able to make appropriate crosswalks in their understanding once the existing RDA Toolkit structure ceases to be available. In this way, Harden has future-proofed her work to a significant degree.

Further on, Harden briefly addresses classification and subjects, which are areas whose complexities merit their own monographs. Indeed, Smiraglia did not cover these topics in his book, and they are not addressed in RDA. Still, the reality of day-to-day work requires knowledge of these components of cataloging practice, so seeing them at least touched on is a welcome sight. The remaining sections of the book include a chapter on archival description (written by Harden's UNT colleague Maristella Feustle), a succinct list of online cataloging tools, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography and index. With all of these components, this work is more or less comprehensive, allowing the reader to gain a soup-to-nuts view of the process of music cataloging-or, to invoke the metaphor in Harden's title, to see all the puzzle pieces gathered in one place, ready for assembly.

Errors in Harden's text are refreshingly rare. The most obvious one appears on page 140, where she describes the practice of indicating that certain bibliographic attributes-for example, place of publication-are not known by citing the standard phrase "[Place of publication unknown]"; in actuality, the standard phrase prescribed by RDA is "[Place of publication not identified] " ( / rdachp2_rda2-1302872.html, accessed 12 April 2019). On page 180, she describes the newer subfields $r and $t in the MARC21 382 field (Medium of Performance), used to count the total number of individuals alongside ensembles and the total number of ensembles, respectively, but neglects to include subfieid $t in the germane example immediately preceding the paragraph. In the same chapter, on page 190, a semicolon precedes the description of illustrative content in a MARC21 300 field (Physical Description); the correct punctuation in this case is a colon. These blemishes are incidental, and a careful reader who makes a habit of corroborating this text with authoritative sources will not be led astray.

To be sure, neither Harden's nor Smiraglia's texts can serve as standalone reference texts but rather best serve as ready-reference materials, with the reader consulting the most authoritative and up-to-date information available online, such as MARC21 documentation ( /marc, accessed 12 April 2019), the RDA Toolkit (https://www.rdatoolkit .org, accessed 12 April 2019), the Music Library Association's Best Practices ( /mpage/cmc_mlabestpractices, accessed 12 April 2019), and so on. To paraphrase my previous review on Smiraglia's work, with respect to any text on cataloging/metadata practice emanating from individuals, the reader is well advised to heed advice in the same manner they would from any human instructor: trust but verify.

Casey A. Mullin

Western Washington University
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Author:Mullin, Casey A.
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2019
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