Directions in Music Cataloging

By Freeborn, Robert | Library Resources & Technical Services, October 2012 | Go to article overview

Directions in Music Cataloging


Freeborn, Robert, Library Resources & Technical Services


Directions in Music Cataloging. Edited by Peter H. Lisius and Richard Griscom. Middleton, Wis.: Music Library Association: A-R Editions, 2012. 173 p. $50.00 (ISBN 978-089579-719-3). MLA Technical Reports Series.

Although this book is officially titled Directions in Music Cataloging, it could easily have been called Why Ralph Papakhian Mattered. Arsen Ralph Papakhian, who passed away in 2010, was a music cataloging librarian at Indiana University (IU). He played a pivotal role in the direction of music cataloging for three decades, and served as an educator, mentor, or colleague to most music catalogers in the United States. Editors Peter Lisius and Richard Griscom have brought together a group of authors to pay homage either directly or indirectly to Papakhian and his influence on the music cataloging community.

The book is divided into three sections. Part 1, "The Foundations of Music Cataloging Today," features articles reflecting Papakhian's impact on scholarship and the professional community. "Music in the OCLC WorldCat, A Replication," was written by noted cataloging educator Richard Smiraglia with students from one of his library science classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It is a modern-day recreation of the original 1981 study published by Papakhian and Smiraglia. The two had searched the relatively new OCLC WorldCat online union catalog for music-related bibliographic records. Their results concluded that records for more than 90 percent of the recommended musical monographs were available, while the percentages for scores and sound recordings were noticeably lower. Results from the replicated study by Smiraglia's library students proved similar. WorldCat held cataloging records for almost 99 percent of the recommended books and popular sound recordings, while percentages for scores and classical sound recordings hovered in the 60s and 70s. Following this chapter is Smiraglia's "'Theoretical Implications Arising from the Study of Personal Name Headings in the Indiana University Music Library Card Catalogs," another homage to an earlier work by his late colleague and friend. In 1985, Papakhian wrote an article on the frequency of personal name authority records in the Indiana University Music Library. The study mad subsequent paper were done in rebuttal to a series of earlier articles in the field promoting the concept of Lotka's Law, which argues the majority of authors in a union catalog have written only one work. Papakhian showed empirically that in a music library, where the majority of holdings feature works by a handful of composers, Lotka's Law did not hold. Smiraglia's chapter looks again at the findings of Papakhian's work and its subsequent impact on the field, demonstrating just how important it had become since its publication. The final paper in this part of the book is Jay Weitz's fascinating, "Furthering Access to Music: A History of the Music OCLC Users Group." The contribution is a wonderfully insightful look into the User Group's formation, growth, and distinguished board members.

Part 2, "Cataloging Theory in Transition," opens with Damian Iseminger's "Works and Expression in RDA: Problems and Solutions." Iseminger provides a brief history of RDA: Resource Description and Access, as well as a basic introduction to its main concepts. (1) He then notes some problems with the new cataloging rules--one of the biggest being the decision to be backward-compatible with the older Anglo American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd edition (AACR2). (2) Damian concludes by providing a series of possible solutions that could aid music catalogers when working in RDA. Next is "The Music Genre/ Form Project: History, Accomplishments, and Future Directions," by Beth Iseminger. …

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