Byline: Sarah Long
After Thanksgiving I initiated a search for our collection of holiday music on compact disc. By standing on my head and using a flashlight, I found them in a small, inaccessible cupboard along with other CDs I had forgotten we owned. I said to my husband, who is also a librarian: "We should organize our CD collection so that we can use and enjoy it. Since we're both librarians, this shouldn't be too hard." He smiled at me benignly, hoping, I think, that this was only another of my fleeting ideas.
While cataloging and classifying was never my forte in library school, I began to be interested in how libraries organize their collections of music CDs. There is much variation, but many public libraries use a very simple system called ANSCR and pronounced, "answer."
I talked to Susan McGowan, reference coordinator at the Morton Grove Public Library and she told me that ANSCR stands for Alpha- Numeric System for Classification of Recordings.
"It was developed as a way to organize music recordings in categories that users would recognize," she said.
So for example there is a category for popular music designated "M" with general popular music being "MA," jazz noted as "MJ" and rock as "MR." McGowan explained that a full ANSCR call number has four parts or terms. The first term is the type of music such as "popular music" cited above. The second term is for the composer or performer, the third is for the title of work or album and the fourth is for the performer or label number. For my small collection, I had the idea that I needed: organize music CDs by rough categories.
My next step was to clear off the dining room table and sort our CD collection of about 150 items into groups. For us, this meant there was a group of movie music and show tunes, a …