Academic journal article Notes

Faceted Vocabularies for Music: A New Era in Resource Discovery

Academic journal article Notes

Faceted Vocabularies for Music: A New Era in Resource Discovery

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus (LCMPT) and the music portions of the Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT) are long-anticipated products in a history of problem-solving approaches toward faceted access to music resources. MLA's Cataloging and Metadata Committee has collaborated with the Library of Congress for the past several years in a multiphase endeavor to design and build out these new vocabularies. Implementation within the Anglo-American music cataloging community began in 2014, and retrospective implementation (the programmatic assignment of faceted terms to legacy metadata) is currently being studied and pursued.

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The new faceted music vocabularies, the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus for Music (LCMPT), and the music portions of the Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT), are long-anticipated products in a history of problem-solving approaches toward descriptive terms for music. (1) These approaches have evolved from the early days of modern music librarianship, through more recent efforts to establish a thesaurus of music terminology. MLA's Cataloging and Metadata Committee has collaborated with the Library of Congress for the past several years in a multiphase endeavor to design and build out these new vocabularies. A detailed account of this work, as well as challenges for implementation of the vocabularies in library metadata, will be discussed.

EARLY WORK

The early work on music subject headings took place in the print-only environment of card catalogs and reference sources, which ultimately forced decisions about entry points in the catalog. Should musical works be listed primarily under their form or their instrumentation? The answers could vary, for example, according to the type of use, research, or performance. In the card catalog, form typically won over medium of performance, because all works have a medium, while form provided a more specific qualifier. (2)

Consistency was a major concern in early subject analysis. Librarians sought uniformity in subject terminology across libraries, particularly in terms of heading construction. A standard print list could also serve as a training tool, to assist catalogers in applying headings for specific subjects with which they were not as familiar. In 1933, the Music Library Association (MLA) compiled such a list of subject headings for musical compositions based on Library of Congress catalog cards; and in 1935, the association published a list of subject headings for books about music. (3) These endeavors provide early illustrations of how music librarians conceived of a music thesaurus as a set of descriptors that would include headings applicable to all types of musical resources. (4)

THE 1980S AND 1990S: TOWARD A MUSIC THESAURUS

The advent of computer technology, online catalogs, and database tools provided an impetus for developing more fully structured music vocabularies. Inspired by the success of the Art & Architecture Thesaurus, published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1990), as well as the well-designed RILM Thesaurus: Subject Headings for Cumulative Index of RILM Abstracts (1976), MLA formed the Music Thesaurus Project Working Group in 1985. The group envisioned a comprehensive thesaurus covering the entire discipline of music that could be used not only in cataloging all formats of music materials for libraries, but for book and periodical indexing as well. (5)

Following the report of the working group in 1989, Harriette Hemmasi (then music librarian at Rutgers University; currently university librarian at Brown University) began development in 1991 of a prototype music thesaurus. Through a grant from the Council on Library Resources, she worked with two partners from Rutgers University, Dr. …

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