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Music cataloguing in Europe and RDA: current practises challenge by new rules.


When I agreed to write an article about "Music Cataloguing in Europe" I at first never thought anything special about that. It ought to be an interesting topic to focus on the state of music cataloguing in my continent as opposed to what is happening elsewhere and maybe in particular in the Anglo-American world, a part of the cataloguing world that usually gets most of the attention. However, when I started looking a bit under the surface, going through the rules and practises in different countries I soon realised that there is actually no such thing as "European Music Cataloguing". Europe consists of a number of independent countries with independent cataloguing traditions that have their backgrounds in various facts and decisions. To describe each and every one of these would be an enormous task, so I have decided to focus on some differences in a few countries and how these countries manage to interact, but also what is happening to them now that the developments on the web and the needs of our users in some way force us all to live in the same bibliographic universe, and possibly use the same, or at least compatible, cataloguing framework(s).

The new rules that are "up and coming" are chiefly the present Anglo-American attempt to create internationally accepted rules for everyone, the Resource Description and Access (RDA) (2), but also the latest developments within the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), such as the Statement of International Cataloguing Principles (3) and the Consolidated Edition of the International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD) (4). Will the realities we are facing force the cataloguing world to unite, or will it be possible, and if so, can we hold on to national practises despite the unification of the world? Will we adhere to the same cataloguing standards across the continent, or will national standards and practises prevail?

In this essay, I present some of the differences in the cataloguing field in Europe, focusing on some selected countries: Germany, France, Spain, and finally my own part of the continent, the Nordic countries. I also try to include some comments on the situation in Eastern Europe. Having done that I will see if these various rules are compatible with the new up and coming RDA and, if not, what can be done to make the various sets of rules at least able to communicate and transfer data with each other. Ultimately, I will attempt to answer the question: will RDA unite the cataloguers of Europe?

The Present Situation in some European Countries

Germany, Switzerland, Austria

Germany and the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) have long traditions of federal states where each has its own rules and regulations. This is also reflected in their cataloguing practises. Several different cataloguing rules existed for a long time. However, after World War II, these three countries managed to agree upon one common set of rules, rules that have the German cataloguing tradition as their foundation, but with a strong ISBD influence. The rules are called RAK (Regeln zur alphabetischen Katalogisierung) (5) and the particular part of the rules dealing with music is called RAK-Musik (Regeln fur die alphabetische Katalogisierung von Ausgaben Musikalischer Werke) (6).

As a separate publication, the German rules do not vary that much from the AngloAmerican Cataloguing Rules, AACR (7). Rules for describing the title "the way it is found on the title page or its equivalent" are very similar, even if some rules for capitalisation and abbreviation are different. The ISBD punctuation standard makes the records very easy for a cataloguer to read and understand. A few matters are different, however, such as the Music Presentation Statement Area. That is included in the edition statement in the German rules, something that has actually been discussed very often when dealing with the AACR rules as well. In the edition and the publication statements, abbreviations for the distribution areas are much more common than in AACR. For a non-German user this may look a bit confusing. The abbreviations, however, follow standardised lists, so a computer program should be able to translate them into understandable text, or into other languages, as desired. The physical description area in RAK-Musik is probably more specific than in AACR. The exact medium, more or less, is specified, whereas in AACR a general term is given in this area, the more exact term specified in a note. More abbreviations than in AACR are used here as well. But everything is based on ISBD and an AACR cataloguer will definitely "feel at home" using these rules. In the notes area, abbreviations are used to a much greater extent than in AACR, something that makes the RAK records look somewhat more compressed than the AACR ones, e.g., "Ital. Orig.-Fassung mit dt. Untertiteln", as compared with "Original Italian version with German subtitles". Not many abbreviations exist in the AACR notes area.

The largest difference in the German rules as compared to AACR is the field of uniform titles. Uniform titles, or Einheitssachtitel as they are called in German, do exist in RAK also, and are just as logically organised as in AACR. However, they look somewhat different. For independent titles the treatment is quite similar with just a few differences, mostly when it comes to parts of works, e.g., L'elisir d'amore <Ouverture> as compared to Elisir d'amore. Overture. The part is added within brackets, and the definite article has been kept (as is also done in most of the AACR-based cataloguing rules in Europe). When the uniform title starts with a form of composition as initial element, the difference is substantial. More or less the same elements are added, with the exception of key, but they are recorded differently. The German rules have a strong preference for abbreviations and this is also evident in the uniform titles (see Illustration 1). Medium of performance is abbreviated according to standard abbreviation lists, making them very short, but sometimes more difficult to understand. In some instances, a different thematic catalogue is being used for a composer, or the same thematic catalogue as in AACR, but with a different code for the catalogue. As with the independent titles above, parts of works are registered with brackets and not after full stop, which might be a deviation from the ISBD rules. The ISBD, however, does not have any rules for headings, and the uniform title is a part of the heading.

Personal and institutional headings sometimes look different in the German-speaking world than in the English one. This question is at present becoming less and less important. The rules in the German-speaking world are different, transcription from non-Latin scripts is different, but that is no longer a problem. There are intelligent systems keeping all that in order for us. The main system for this is the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) (8), a project that began with the Library of Congress and the Deutsche National-bibliothek, but that now has more members. The VIAF links together not only authority files, but also compares all headings in bibliographic records to help systems decide what headings in the various authority files should be linked together. (See Illustration 2.)

No matter which heading is chosen for the above composer, the system will help the user to keep them all together.


The French cataloguing tradition maintains focus on adhering to and developing international standards. France has always advocated the use of IFLA standards to as great an extent as possible. The most important standard here is the ISBD, and in France the rules are clearly based on ISBD with continuing references to that standard. French descriptive cataloguing closely follows the rules stipulated in ISBD, which for music means the ISBD(PM), now replaced by the ISBD Consolidated Edition. As AACR is also very strongly based on the ISBDs, this makes the French descriptive rules and AACR quite similar.

When there is no international standard to follow the French cataloguing practise is to create a national one that will adhere to other international standards as closely as possible. This is something that is especially applicable to uniform titles. Since uniform titles are not included in the ISBD (it only deals with descriptive cataloguing), the French have created their own set of rules for these called NF Z 44-079, Forme et structure des vedettes titres uniformes musicaux (9).

Just like in the AACR rules and the German rules, the French rules base the uniform title on the composer's original title in the language it was first presented, and as in the German rules, definite and indefinite articles are included in the uniform title. This is actually a field where European rules most strongly contradict the Anglo-American rules. The reason is very simple: in English it is easy to remove an article without causing any important change in the meaning of the word or sentence following the article. In other languages this is often not the case. The article has to stay and library systems have to be built to be able to cope with the article. Library systems in the English-speaking world often ignore the problem with articles and leave that to the cataloguers to solve.

In some ways the French rules for uniform titles resemble the AACR ones. They lean a bit more toward regarding titles as distinctive, when AACR prefers the solution of regarding them as forms. Numbers related to the title are included in the French uniform titles, but not in AACR ones. As such, the number then makes the work title distinctive in the AFNOR rules (see Illustration 3).

ILLUSTRATION 1 Differences in Uniform Titles Under AACR2 and RAK-Musik.


Beethoven, Ludwig van

[Sonatas, piano, no. 23, op. 57, F minor]


Beethoven, Ludwig van

[Sonaten, Kl, op. 57]


The treatment of uniform titles for works that are only made up of form names is also quite similar to AACR2. One difference is that the AFNOR rules prescribe a full stop between each element in the uniform title. The French rules also allow for alternative settings in the medium of performance part of the uniform title, e.g., "flute ou violon". Another difference is that the French rules allow for adding numbering from a thematic catalogue, or opus number, even when the title is a distinctive one. As with the German rules, different thematic catalogues have sometimes been employed, rather than the ones used in under AACR. However, as long as everything is registered in a way that the works can be clearly identified, there should be no great worries for the differences between the French rules and the German and AACR ones. The VIAF solution does not yet cover uniform titles, but they are on the VIAF agenda and hopefully there will soon be a solution even for these.

ILLUSTRATION 3 Differences between AACR2 and ANFOR Uniform Titles

Brahms, Johannes, [Letzte Lieder] (AACR2)

Brahms, Johannes, [Vier letzte Lieder] (AFNOR)

Albinoni, Tommaso, [Cantatas, op. 4] (AACR)

Albinoni, Tommaso, [12 cantates. Voix, basse continue. Op. 4] (AFNOR)


Like most European countries, especially in the south, Spain is very much committed to following valid IFLA and other international standards. Therefore the ISBD standard is always present in their cataloguing rules, the Reglas de catalogacion (1999) (10). The Anglo-American cataloguer will feel at home looking at Spanish bibliographic records. Descriptive cataloguing is very similar and even uniform titles are constructed in a way that is similar to the Anglo-American practise.

Nordic Countries

For someone outside of the Nordic countries, the impression may be that these countries are very similar and that their cataloguing rules look alike. This is far from being true.

Sweden is maybe one of the most AACR-friendly countries in Europe. The Swedish cataloguing code, Katalogiseringsregler for svenska bibliotek (KRS) (11) follows AACR to a large extent, both as far as descriptive cataloguing and uniform titles are concerned. The only main difference in the uniform title field is with forms and genres: in the Swedish rules these are given in the singular, not plural, form.

Finland has chosen a more southern-Europe approach. The rules for descriptive cataloguing in Finland are made up of the Finnish translation of the ISBD. Finland has separate rules for uniform titles that resemble the AACR rules, but are somewhat more elaborate. For example, different numbers in thematic catalogues are both given in the uniform title. The arrangement statement is also more elaborate (see Illustration 4). (This last elaborate arrangement possibility also applies to Swedish uniform title rules.)

ILLUSTRATION 4 Arrangements of Works: Uniform Titles

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

[Sonaatit, piano 4-kat., KV186c = KV358, B-duuri; sov., sello, piano, F-duuri]

Norway also strongly follows what is happening in the Anglo-American world and tries to make its rules as close to international standards, in this case AACR, as possible.

A country that has chosen a somewhat different, and more radical, approach to cataloguing is Denmark. In 2009, the Dansk Bibliotekscenter (DBC), a private company that, among other duties, produces the Danish National Bibliography for the National Library, presented a rationalisation proposal that had been prepared together with the National Library. According to this proposal the statement of responsibility would be considered unnecessary in most catalogue records. Instead of registering the statement of responsibility every added entry is equipped with a relator code explaining what function the entry has in the record (see Illustration 5)

This new way of looking at cataloguing raised quite a few eyebrows when it was presented at an IFLA conference two years ago and a lot of criticism was expressed, but also a few words of admiration for a country that dared to do something so new and "revolutionary". But in the end maybe this will be seen as a necessary step. The model has now been tested for almost two years in Denmark and is more or less being used permanently by the DBC, at least for book materials. Rationalisation is a strong issue in Denmark and the cataloguing process is considered one that needs to be speeded up and simplified.

New Developments


In October 1961 a Conference on Cataloguing Principles was held in Paris, France, a conference that produced a statement of fundamental principles for cataloguing (12), principles that ever since have governed most of the world's cataloguing rules. These principles state among other things that the function of the catalogue is to ascertain whether a library contains a particular book as specified by:

a) its author and title;

b) if the author is unknown by its title;

c) if author and title are inappropriate or insufficient for identification, a suitable substitute for the title; and

d) which works by a particular author, and, which editions of a particular work are in the library.

ILLUSTRATION 5 Statement of Responsibility: Danish Rules

Old Cataloguing Record (DanMARC format):

100 00 *a Lindgren *h Astrid

245 00 *a Pippi Langstmmpe i Humlegarden *c billedbog *e [tekst]

ved Astrid Lindgren *e og [illustrationer ved] Ingrid Nyman *f

pa dansk ved Erik Stig Andersen

700 00 *a Nyman *h Ingrid Vang

New Cataloguing Record (DanMARC format):

100 00 *a Lindgren *h Astrid *4 aut

245 00 *a Pippi Langstmmpe i Humlegarden *c billedbog

700 00 *a Nyman *h Ingrid Vang *4 ill

720 00 *o Erik Stig Andersen *4 trl

The principles also state that there may be several entries to a catalogue record: main entries, added entries, and references, and at least one entry for each book catalogued should be made. Quite obvious rules, one might think today!

As years went by much has changed in the library world and many new types of media emerged; in the 1990s the Internet provided an opportunity to have documents published in digital form instead of as physical objects. The old Paris Principles were still going strong, but they were not quite sufficient to meet current needs. Therefore, in 2002, an attempt to create new and more valid principles for cataloguing was begun within IFLA, led by Barbara B. Tillett of the Library of Congress (U.S.). A single conference on this topic was not sufficient, but instead five different meetings of experts were held around the globe, thereby allowing every country and culture to have its say. The meetings were occurred in the following countries and dates:

* IME ICC1, Frankfurt, Germany, 2003 (13)

* IME ICC2, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2004 (14)

* IME ICC3, Cairo, Egypt, 2005 (15)

* IME ICC4, Seoul, South Korea, 2006 (16)

* IME ICC5, Pretoria, South Africa, 2007 (17)

The meetings led to a proposal for modernised principles which were accepted by the IFLA Cataloguing Section at its meeting in Milan in August 2009, and subsequently published in the IFLA Series on bibliographic control (18). These principles still adhere to what was stated in the Paris Principles, but go far beyond. The fact that entries should exist is discussed here, but also what the headings should look like. They should be authorised according to a system decided upon by the country using them. There should also be subject access according to standards defined by the country in which that subject system is being used. Both of these should of course be standards that can easily be converted to standards used in other countries. By adopting these principles, full regard was given to the world being international and the various catalogues being accessible on the web. Standardisation is more important than ever and is highly stressed in the ICP.

Within IFLA another modernisation project has also taken place. In the late 1960s and the early 1970s the different ISBDs (International Standard Bibliographic Description) were developed. As every cataloguer knows these standards regulate the way in which we create the bibliographic description according to IFLA and these standards have to a very high extent governed the creation of cataloguing codes over the years. An immense problem, however, was that so much new media and material types emerged, and a new ISBD for these was needed. Why not create one complete ISBD that would cover everything that now exists, but which also cover future, not yet available types? This project was more or less simultaneous with the ICP-project and in 2011, after many meetings and worldwide review a new consolidated ISBD was published (19).

Last, but by far not least, another IFLA standard was first developed in the 1990s with more additions made to it in the last few years. This is of course the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) (20), a model that tries to help us organise our bibliographic universe now that we can no longer rely on different levels of catalogue cards in a library catalogue. The model relates tasks of retrieval and access in online library catalogues and bibliographic databases from a user's perspective, and is made up of several entities divided into three groups:

* Group 1 entities are work, expression, manifestation, and item and represent the products of intellectual or artistic endeavour.

* Group 2 entities are person and corporate body, responsible for Group 1's intellectual or artistic endeavour.

* Group 3 entities are subjects of Group 1 or Group 2's intellectual endeavour, and include concepts, objects, events, places, plus all entities from Group 1 and 2.

During the last decade, two additional models have been created with which FRBR needs to interact: the Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD)21, and the Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data (FRSAD)22, both also developed within IFLA.

Since its appearance in 1998, the impact of FRBR has been enormous. Today hardly any library system is developed without the FRBR model forming some part of its basic structure. FRBR is being taught in library schools and is spread throughout the library community via conferences and seminars. More importantly, FRBR serves as an important foundation for the new cataloguing code RDA.

The Anglo-American Cataloguing Community

The Anglo-American cataloguing community with its cataloguing rules, AACR, has influenced the cataloguing world since the 1960s, and many countries, as already mentioned, have decided to base their rules, more or less, on AACR, which were based on the Paris Principles and the ISBDs. However it became apparent in the Anglo-American world that new cataloguing rules were needed. The last edition of AACR was its second edition, the 1998 revision (23) which was somewhat out of date already when it was published. In 1997 there had already been a conference in Toronto, Canada, dedicated to the problem of the not so up-to-date rules (24). This conference led to intensive work within the Anglo-American cataloguing community in general and the Joint Steering Committee for the Revision of AACR in principle. At first the creation of an AACR3 was decided upon, but that was later abandoned for plans to create something completely new.

Fifteen years after the conference in Toronto the Anglo-American Cataloguing community is now finally ready to move into a new cataloguing environment. As of 1 January 2013 the new cataloguing code RDA, Resource Description and Access (25), will be adopted. This new set of rules still uses the old AACR texts to some extent, but the structure of the rules is very different. The old way of organising the rules according to media type is gone, and instead the focus has turned to making the catalogued material more easily accessible. FRBR serves as a solid foundation for the rules, whose structure is consistently based on this conceptual model.

RDA strongly focuses on describing every resource "as it is". The bibliographic description should follow the resource catalogued more or less exactly. Do not leave anything out, do not abbreviate, do not invent any rules that only cataloguers will understand. This is also an important change for those who want to import records directly from a publisher into a library catalogue. Should this be possible, less strict rules will be needed. One rule that is not included in RDA is the "rule of three", which limited the number of authors mentioned in the responsibility statement to only the first three. From now on all authors mentioned may be stated. The RDA rules also focus on authority work and the new IFLA standard Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD), has been worked into the rules. Standardisation of names has become very important in our international world. There are also placeholders for rules for subject access which have also become increasingly important.

As previously mentioned, the road to RDA has been a very long and cumbersome one, with many obstacles to overcome. Quite a few of these have been addressed, but many more are waiting to be solved. The rules will be adopted by the national libraries of the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. as of 1 January 2013, but are already being used in some databases on a test basis.

The rules claim to be not only for the Anglo-American library community, but intended for use by every community that is interested and, as such, may be translated into other languages for this purpose. Translations into French, German and Spanish are already on their way.

Since most library cataloguing codes in the world are to a greater or lesser extent based on the old AACR rules this of course raises some questions. It is clear that AACR will no longer be updated, but be replaced by RDA. These other cataloguing rules will also need to reach a decision as whether to follow the Anglo-American cataloguing community into this new world, or to do something else-or possibly just wait and see. In early 2012, this is the state in which most European countries are today.

What will RDA mean to the Music Cataloguing Community?

For music cataloguers the main question is of course what the implications will be for music cataloguing? What are the advantages, and will there be any disadvantages? Will the changes be substantial?

In general one can say that there are quite a few changes, most of which are not so big, but a few affect cataloguing to a greater extent. As far as music cataloguing is concerned, these changes will not affect it more than any other kind of cataloguing. A few of the pertinent issues are discussed below.

One of the greatest changes in RDA is the fact that the General Material Designator (GMD) disappears and is replaced by three new elements, Content type, Media type, and Carrier type. This is something that will influence all cataloguing, since these types will be registered for all kinds of materials. Just an example: A music sound recording on a compact disc (CD) would in AACR2 get the GMD [sound recording] and that is it. In RDA it will instead have Content type: Performed music, Media type: Audio, and Carrier Type: Audio disc. New fields have already been added to the MARC21 format for this. This may lead to more work for the cataloguer, but, of course, also better cataloguing records and improved possibilities for retrieval systems.

In RDA the edition statement will grow and encompass statements that were previously scattered over many places in the catalogue record, e.g., Score and parts; statements of responsibility relating to the format of music, e.g., vocal score by N.N.; voice range statements, e.g., High voice.

As for the statement of publication, RDA distinguishes between ordinary publishing details and copyright details. Therefore they are now being registered separately, something that will better uniquely identify a publication.

Another important change is in the physical description statement. What formerly was transcribed as 205 p. of music will now instead become 1 score (205 pages) or even 1 online resource (1 score (205 pages)). Of course the term pages will no longer be abbreviated.

New terminology is also introduced in RDA, with four new terms which need to be kept in mind:

Heading -> Authorised access point

Reference -> Variant access point

Collection-> Compilation

Uniform title -> Preferred title

The concept of uniform title is being abandoned in RDA and instead the concept of "preferred title" is being introduced. The difference is not so great, the elements are the same, but maybe the preferred title will be somewhat less dominant in the catalogue record, than the uniform title was.

When making access points for uniform titles one always has to keep the FRBR structure in mind and decide whether the access point is one for the work or for the expression of the work. In the MARC21 format quite a few new fields and tags have been added to accommodate these changes.

Another important change which has been mentioned before is the move away from using abbreviations, e.g.,

acc. -> accompanied

arr. -> arranged

unacc. -> unaccompanied

ca. -> approximately

Some very well-known abbreviations remain, however, like op. for opus and no. for number.

Some minor changes take place in the field that identifies types of composition. The medium of performance is no longer limited to three instruments, but all instruments can be named, e.g., Concertos, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, harp, orchestra.

There are quite a few other minor changes as well for which there is no space in this article to address. Many of these have already been addressed in other articles and presentations in recent years. One more important change, however, deals with combining access points with uniform titles. Previously, if a publication, for example consisted of two works by the same composer, the access point for the composer was given together with the uniform title for the first work and an access point for the composer plus the uniform title of the second work was given as an added entry. In RDA the title of the compilation will form authorised access points together with the composer and the two works will both be given as added entries (see Illustration 6).

ILLUSTRATION 6 Added Entries under RDA.


Schubert, Franz, 1797-1828

[Symphonies, D. 200, D major]

Two symphonies [Sound recording] / Franz Schubert

Added entry:

*Schubert, Franz, 1797-1828

[Symphonies, D. 485, B[flat], major]


Schubert, Franz, 1797-1828

Two symphonies [Sound recording] / Franz Schubert

Added entries:

*Schubert, Franz, 1797-1828

[Symphonies, D. 200, D major]

*Schubert, Franz, 1797-1828

[Symphonies, D. 485, B[flat], major]

This seems like a big change for the cataloguer, but probably will not even be noticed by the user. For the user we still have the same access points as before, composer plus uniform title for the two works.

RDA in Europe?

As mentioned earlier, RDA has been developed by the Joint Steering Committee ( JSC) for the Development of the AACR, with a new name: Joint Steering Committee for the Development of RDA. This committee is made up of representatives from the Anglo-American cataloguing world, i.e., the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. If RDA is intended for use outside this community, it does not seem wise to leave the rest of the cataloguing world out of this committee. There have been several worldwide reviews, but that is the only influence the global cataloguing community has had so far. The non-Anglo-American cataloguing community has not, until recently, been let inside the inner sanctum of the JSC. Steps have now been taken to let some non-English speaking countries provide input into the work of the JSC, predominantly those countries that have shown the greatest interest and represent the largest populations: Germany and France.

In Europe the fear of being outmanoeuvred by the Anglo-American community has led to the creation of an interest group which specifically deals with issues regarding Europe's interaction and potential inclusion in the future development of RDA. The name of this group is The European RDA Interest Group (EURIG)26. The first members of this group were identified at an ALA meeting in Chicago in 2009, but it was not until December 2011 that the group was officially founded. EURIG exists to promote the common professional interests of all users, and potential users of RDA in Europe. The group will arrange meetings focused on issues regarding RDA for European countries and will also act as one of the negotiating partners when discussing rule issues with the JSC.

As far as the European countries are concerned, Germany has by far shown the greatest interest in RDA. This interest has gone on for a long time and even before adopting RDA the German-speaking countries have already translated AACR2 into German (without adopting all of the rules however), and the data exchange format in Germany has also recently been changed from the national DAB format to MARC21, which is the main follow-up to the MARC dialects that previously existed in the Anglo-American countries. In Germany, the work of translating RDA is already happening, and it is a strong desire of the German National Library to be ready to start using RDA at the same time as the Anglo-American community.

In France there is also translation work going on, but the French are not so willing to take the rules exactly as they are. The French wish to maintain the international and national standards that they already follow, and are not willing to just surrender everything. The same goes for several other European countries, including Spain.

The Nordic countries are following this development with great interest, but have so far not started any translation projects. They will, more or less, like many other small countries, wait and see, but with eager interest. As previously mentioned Denmark has chosen its own path, which is somewhat more radical than RDA, but to some extent still compatible. Recently Finland has made the decision to now start using both the ISBD Consolidated Edition as a national cataloguing code, but also intends to move to RDA by 2014.

Translating RDA is a very big project that many small countries cannot afford and because of this other solutions will need to be figured out. Some countries, particularly countries in Eastern Europe, are resigned to take the rules in English as they are, more or less meaning that they will start cataloguing in English. Other countries strive to find a middle path, translating the vocabulary, but not the complete text.

Specific problems

One issue that has been mentioned quite often is the somewhat contradictory fact of rules prescribing everything being written "as it is", and at the same time rules being more international. The intention is for RDA to be applicable to all countries and all languages, but there are some issues that make this very difficult. The rules go from transcribing statements formerly given in coded or abbreviated form to writing them as a phrase, so far in English as RDA currently stands. In Europe, we have many languages and librarians use each other's databases quite frequently. Despite the fact that we use different languages in catalogue records, we still manage to understand the records from other languages, due to the ISBD of course, but also due to some coded statements and some abbreviations made according to these standards. For example, if I record [S.l.: s.n., 189-?] any cataloguer would understand that this is a publication from an unknown place by an unknown publisher, probably published in the 1890s. But if I instead write it according to RDA in my own language (Swedish) it will be: [Utgivningsort okand] : [Utgivare okand], [Ugivningstid inte identifierad]. Not everyone outside of Sweden could easily understand this. Of course the various long sentences could be registered as fixed phrases to allow for automatic translation, but then absolute correct spelling is needed in the records. Another example is the way access points are entered in the MARC21 format. Up to now the function of the person or institution behind the access point was registered with a code according to MARC21, e.g., "edt" for editor, "prf" for performer. Now these functions will be registered in full text making the automatic translation of information into other languages more cumbersome. Is this really a step forward, particularly if you want to make the cataloguing code language independent?

Coded information does not necessarily need to be something negative, not if the codes can be interpreted by our systems and instead used to create understandable information in the language desired by the user. This is something that many European cataloguers ask for right now. For example, in Denmark, the current trend is, as we have seen, to go toward even more coded information that then can be understood by clever library systems.


The title of this article, "Music Cataloguing in Europe and RDA", implies that there is such a thing as a unified, standardised way of cataloguing in Europe, but this is not the case. Europe is, unlike the U.S., made up of still very independent countries that make their own decisions in various matters, including cataloguing. Most countries also have their own language and traditions. The Anglo-American cataloguing tradition is quite predominant in the world, and that tradition is rapidly growing stronger. One might say that there is a German or Central European tradition with its roots in former Prussian ways of thinking and finally there is the southern-European way of thinking which tries to hold on to whatever international standards are available. Every university, national library, and public library has its own tradition, now trying to grow together into something more standardised. But growing together takes time, hard work and long negotiations. To many the natural place to develop and maintain new rules would then be IFLA, and IFLA has taken a strong approach here with the ICP, the ISBD, and the FRBR family of models. However IFLA has not interfered in the national rule-making procedures, apart from the guidelines in ICP. From several countries, especially European ones, there has been a wish that IFLA should take that role as well and develop an international cataloguing code. Given the fact that RDA has advanced as far as it has now, I, however, doubt that this will happen.

IFLA has formed the foundation for creating international rules, through the International Cataloguing Principles and through the ISBDs and last but not least the FRBR family of models. If a country adheres to these much has been gained on the path to international catalogue compatibility. Through RDA, the Anglo-American cataloguing community attempts to go one step further and unite us even more. This might succeed, but it is still too early in the process to say how everything will end. Most likely several European countries will join RDA, to a greater or lesser extent. The smaller countries will probably be swept away with the big RDA wave and whether they want it or not be part of the new system. The world in which we live is international, we share and exchange data constantly. Therefore it is impossible to believe that any one country could keep its old way of thinking. We will all be influenced and I believe that we will all need to be more open to catalogues that are not as strict according to one set of rules as before. We will see very mixed catalogues with records imported from many systems, without much modification when imported. This will be a great change for us, but hopefully modern library systems can manage all these different ways of cataloguing so that the end user does not need to see the underlying differences. The user always comes first and no matter how the structure of our databases is created, the user should always be presented with what he/she is looking for in as structured a way as possible, something that is also clearly stated in the International Cataloguing Principles.

We are on our way into a completely new bibliographic world where catalogues and library systems interact with each other and with the rest of the information community in ways that we never thought possible. It is indeed a very interesting future, one in which there will be some very exciting years ahead.

Anders Cato (1)

(1.) Anders Cato is Head of the Biomedicinska biblioteket of the Goteborgs universitetsbibliotek, Goteborg, Sweden.


(3.) IFLA Cataloguing Principles: The Statement of International Cataloguing Principles (ICP) and its Glossary : in 20 Languages, ed. by Barbara B. Tillett and Ana Lupe Cristan (Munchen: K. G. Saur, 2009); online at < -of-international-cataloguing-principles>

(4.) ISBD: International Standard Bibliographic Description. Consolidated ed. IFLA series on bibliographic control, v. 44 (Berlin: DeGruyter, 2011); online at < standardbibliographic-description>

(5.) Regeln fur die alphabetische Katalogisierung in wissenschaftliche Bibliotheken, RAK-WB. 2., uberab. Ausg. (Frankfurt am Main: Deutsche Bibliothek, 2002); online at <>

(6.) Regeln fur die alphabetische Katalogisierung von Ausgaben musickalischer Werke: RAK-Musik:/rak_4_erg.p>

(7.) Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR. Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, ed. by Michael Gorman and Paul W. Winkler.2. ed. rev. (Chicago: American Library Association, 1998).


(9.) Catalogage: forme et structure des vedettes titres musicaux, Z44-079 (Paris-La-Defense: AFNOR, 1993).

(10.) Reglas de catalogacion. Ed. nuevamente rev. (Madrid: Ministerio de Educacion y Cultura, Centro de Publicaciones : Boletm Oficial del Estado, 1999); online at < /ReglasDeCatalogacion/Docs/00000022.pdf>

(11.) Katalogiseringsregler for svenska bibliotek : svensk oversattning och bearbetning av Anglo-American cataloguing rules, second edition, 1988 revision / utgiven av SAB:s kommitte for katalogisering och klassifikation ;redaktor: Bodil Gustavsson.--2.(Uppl. Lund: Bibliotekstjanst, 1990).

(12.) International Conference on Cataloguing Principles (Paris: 1961). Report. -London : International Federation of Library Associations, 1963, 91-96. Aven tillganglig i: Library Resources and Technical Services 6 (1962): 162-167; samt International Conference on Cataloguing Principles (1971). Statement of principles adopted at the International Conference on Cataloguing Principles, Paris, October, 1961. Annotated ed. (London: IFLA Committee on Cataloguing); online at < standardisierung/pdf/paris_principles_1961.pdf>

(13.) IFLA Cataloguing Principles: Steps towards an International Cataloguing Code: report from the 1st IFLA Meeting of Experts on an International Cataloguing Code, Frankfurt, 2003, ed. by Barbara B. Tillett, Renate Gompel and Susanne Oehlschlager. IFLA series on bibliographic control; v. 26 (Munchen : K. G. Saur, 2004).

(14.) IFLA Cataloguing Principles: Steps towards an International Cataloguing Code, 2: report from the 2nd IFLA Meeting of Experts on an International Cataloguing Code, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2004, ed. by Barbara B. Tillett and Ana Lupe Cristan. IFLA series on bibliographic control; v. 28 (Munchen : K. G. Saur, 2005).

(15.) IFLA Cataloguing Principles: Steps towards an International Cataloguing Code, 3: report from the 3rd IFLA Meeting of Experts on an International Cataloguing Code, Cairo, Egypt, 2005, ed. by Barbara B. Tillett, Khaled Mohamed Reyad and Ana Lupe Cristan. IFLA series on bibliographic control; v. 29 (Munchen : K. G. Saur, 2006).

(16.) IFLA Cataloguing Principles: Steps towards an International Cataloguing Code, 4: report from the 4th IFLA Meeting of Experts on an International Cataloguing Code, Seoul, Korea, 2006, ed. by Barbara B. Tillett, Jaesun Lee and Ana Lupe Cristan. IFLA series on bibliographic control; v. 32 (Munchen : K.G. Saur, 2007).

(17.) IFLA Cataloguing Principles: Steps towards an International Cataloguing Code, 5: report from the 5th IFLA Meeting of Experts on an International Cataloguing Code, Pretoria, South Africa, 2007, ed. by Barbara B. Tillett, Tienie de Klerk, Hester van der Walt, and Ana Lupe Cristan. IFLA series on bibliographic control; v.35 (Munchen : K.G. Saur, 2008).

(18.) IFLA Cataloguing Principles: The Statement of International Cataloguing Principles (ICP) and its Glossary: in 20 Languages, ed. by Barbara B. Tillett and Ana Lupe Cristan (Munchen: K.G. Saur, 2009); online at < -cataloguing-principles>

(19.) ISBD: International Standard Bibliographic Description. Consolidated ed. IFLA series on bibliographic control; v. 44 (Berlin: DeGruyter, 2011); online at < publications/international-standardbibliographic-description>

(20.) IFLA Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records: Final Report ; approved by the Standing Committee of the IFLA Section on Cataloguing, September 1997; as amended and corrected through February 2009 (< /cataloguing/frbr/frbr_2008.pdf>)

(21.) Glenn E. Patton, ed. Functional Requirements for Authority Data: A Conceptual Model (<http://www.ifla .org/publications/ifla-series-on-bibliographic-control-34>)

(22.) Marcia Lei Zeng, Maja Zumer and Athena Salaba, eds. Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data (< -bibliographic-control-43>)

(23.) Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR, Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, ed. by Michael Gorman and Paul W. Winkler. 2 ed. rev. (Chicago: American Library Association, 1998).

(24.) Jean Weihs, ed. The Principles and Future of AACR: Proceedings of the International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR: Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 23/25, 1997 (Ottawa: Canadian Library Association ; London: Library Association Publishing; Chicago: American Library Association, 1998); online at <>.

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Author:Cato, Anders
Publication:Fontes Artis Musicae
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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