Academic journal article Notes

An Internet Primer for Music Librarians: Tools, Sources, Current Awareness

Academic journal article Notes

An Internet Primer for Music Librarians: Tools, Sources, Current Awareness

Article excerpt

In "Electronic Information and Applications in Musicology and Music Theory" Mary K. Duggan observes that "the impact of electronic information goes beyond research on music and writings about music to the processes of creating, notating, printing, performing, and recording music."(1) Recognizing the importance of network resources, Duggan discusses various means of electronic communication--electronic mail, discussion lists and journals--as well as databases of digitally encoded music notation and sound. Since the publication of her article, network resources have grown at a phenomenal rate. New electronic journals are created seemingly each week; discussion groups are born; databases are uploaded and made available for searching or transferring to remote computers; software programs to help access this information are created for both the mainframe and personal computer; guides are written to facilitate network use. Music librarians must master the skills needed to use this virtual library as its resources become more prevalent and consequently more in demand from our constituents.

The difficulty lies not in mastering the number or kind of electronic resources--the librarian has always managed to create order out of the chaos of resources available to our patrons. Rather, the difficulty lies in understanding the arrangement of resources, how they are accessed, and how to keep current with the appearance of new resources. Unlike the world of printed information, there is yet no commonly shared paradigm upon which one might draw to develop an overview of this world of networked information. Our standard reference sources, in spite of all they offer, cannot help locate archives of MIDI files, or databases of lyrics, or indexes of popular song available for searching online.

This article must include the caveat found in all print communication regarding the Internet: by the time it is read, some of the details will be out-of-date. While the sources (discussion groups, databases, etc.) may change, the tools used to access these sources will still be valid. Consequently, this article does not try to catalog all music sources available on the Internet, but rather discusses tools (basic and advanced) and introduces a representative number of sources. Emphasis is placed on those sources and tools that allow a network user specifically interested in music to keep current. By consulting the relevant footnotes, those already familiar with network tools will find instructions for accessing specific resources mentioned in the article's text. Neither does this article purport to teach basic network skills. The novice is urged to consult the list of references at the conclusion of this article for publications that provide a comprehensive introduction to networks and networking.

Outside of Duggan's article, little has been written on the Internet or network communication with the music library community in mind. Richard Griscom's "Bibliography for MLA Networkers," offered in conjunction with his presentation at the 1991 Music Library Association national meeting in Indianapolis, emphasizes BITNET (a logical emphasis considering the Music Library Association Mailing List is a BITNET LISTSERV list) and, while many of the cited sources are still useful, others have been superseded.(2) The 1992 issue of the annual Computing in Musicology: A Directory of Research contains "Using Networks in Musical Research: Tutorial and Forum."(3) For the novice, the information offered in the tutorial will not be a sufficient introduction to network use. The authors try to fit too much information into the allotted space and the result is confusing; in places the discussion itself is confused.(4) However, the charts devoted to musicology-related discussion lists and data archives may be of use. Finally, several articles have appeared in the MLA Newsletter, most notably "Online Catalogs Available on the Internet."(5)


Creative metaphors have been designed to help us better envision the [virtual] reality of the Internet. …

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