Content Standards Subcommittee: MLA Report 2024

Music Library Association
Content Standards Subcommittee Business Meeting
Thursday, March 7, 2024 12:00pm-12:55pm EST, virtual

The annual meeting of the Content Standards subcommittee was recorded and registered meeting attendees may watch the recording through the CVENT platform.

Members in attendance: Anne Adams, Linda Bagley, Emily Colucci, Reed David, Chelsea Hoover, Chris Holden (Library of Congress), Keith Knop (chair), Morris Levy, (OCLC), Casey Mullin (BIBCO Music Funnel), Karen Peters, Daniel Ray, Mark Scharff (NACO Music Project), Anthony Sharp, Amy Strickland. Not present: Amanda Scott.

Minutes: The minutes of the previous meeting were approved without modification.


  • Three people’s terms conclude in March 2024: Linda Bagley, Reed David, and Keith Knop. Additionally, Jay Weitz concluded his tenure as OCLC representative to CMC and its subcommittees with his retirement.
  • Six members were added in 2023: Anne Adams, Karen Peters, Dan Ray, Anthony Sharp, and Amy Strickland. Additionally, Morris Levy assumed the role of OCLC representative.
  • Chelsea Hoover is the incoming chair of the subcommittee.

Update on the MLA/OLAC Best Practices for Media Devices Task Force (Bruce Evans):

  • The remit of the task force covers the creation of best practices for cataloging digital media storage devices (e.g, USB drives, DVD-ROMs) and portable media devices (e.g, Playaways, Wonderbooks).
  • A revised draft, written for original RDA, has been submitted to advisors; the next step will be to convert it for official RDA with the intent of eventually folding the content into OLAC’s unified best practices document and incorporated in the RDA Toolkit.
  • OLAC would like to have continued MLA representation.

Updates on ongoing work:

  • RDA File Type vocabulary
    • There is a long-standing issue where there is no clearly appropriate RDA File Type term to describe files containing notated music. CSS submitted a discussion paper to CC:DA, the outcome of which was a suggestion that “image file” might be appropriate in most cases, though a separate term for music might be needed for some use cases.
    • Damian Iseminger noted that if the intent of the vocabulary is to identify the file MIME type, many common file types (including PDF) have a file type of “application,” which in RDAFT would be “program file.” He has submitted an inquiry to the RDA Technical Working Group to investigate whether this vocabulary is actually redundant, given the apparent overlap with both content type and encoding format. He suggested that submitting a further discussion paper to the RSC would be helpful.
  • Serial, opus, and thematic index numbers that are specific to particular expressions, rather than works
    • In parallel with the Encoding Standards Subcommittee’s proposals to modify field 383 to accommodate serial, opus, and thematic index numbers that are specific to particular expressions, CSS prepared a discussion paper on creating expression elements to parallel the existing work identifier elements in RDA. Much of that was rendered moot by advice that the RSC would be unlikely to approve new, more granular identifier elements.
    • These situations are broadly supported by the Expression element identifier for expression, and it would be up to CSS how best to provide guidance. One option would be to incorporate guidance into the Best Practices for the Work identifier elements, possibly with links out to more detailed documentation. Another option would be to build out our own refinements of the identifier for expression element within the community resources section of the RDA Toolkit.
    • Damian Iseminger pointed out that building refinements in the Community Resources section could hypothetically make it easier to link to them as refinements of RDA in other applications or registries.
    • The chair suggested this topic might also be worth covering in the forthcoming NACO Music Project guidance documentation, and Mark Scharff concurred.
    • RDA Form of Musical Notation
    • A fast-track proposal for new terms has been prepared and will be submitted after this meeting. The terms included are chord symbols, chord diagrams, figured bass notation, and shape-note notation.
  • RDA Format of Notated Music
    • Another long-standing issue is the lack of an English-language term that succinctly identifies the instrumental parallel to a vocal score. The Vocabularies Subcommittee had also struggled with this. There was considerable brainstorming of terms both spoken and in the meeting chat, which was recorded for future reference.

NACO Music Project/Content Standards documentation task group:

  • A new joint task group has been set up with the goal of developing and maintaining guidance documentation for creation of music-related authority records in the LC Name Authority File. This would include both RDA guidance and documentation of practices that are specific to work in the NACO environment. Much of the rest of the meeting was devoted to discussion of topics people would like to see addressed.
    • Mark Scharff pointed out there are a lot of small issues that come up repeatedly as a reviewer that could be listed explicitly as things to watch out for. Also, to what extent do we want to continue practices that have continued on from AACR2?
    • Hermine Vermeij requested more advice on when to add 4xx fields.
    • Amy Strickland raised the issue of 4xx vs 5xx, particularly in the context of sound recordings for things like rap music where often an artist will use names that vary slightly from album to album. Hermine also pointed out the issue of artists who use one name for performance and another for songwriting on the same album, which by a strict reading of the PCC documentation would be set up as
      pseudonyms, which is questionably desirable both from a user and a cataloger perspective.
    • Chris Holden suggested guidance on the types of older practices one might expect to see in the authority file and when a cataloger might be expected to update them, e.g. when a large number of records use numbering practices that are no longer current.
    • Anthony Sharp raised the question of URIs in authority work.
    • Thom Pease pointed out there is still a lot of good guidance in the Library of Congress Rule Interpretations for AACR2, which are now not as easy to search and are no longer.
    • Casey Mullin noted there is some conflicting information about dates in the NACO Participants Manual and the Descriptive Cataloging Manual section Z1, which might warrant some additional discussion.
    • Kathy Glennan asked about guidance related to names, and if that might run the risk of conflicting with regular NACO guidance.
    • Mark Scharff noted there are a lot of conventions that have been adopted by the NACO music community that are not requirements of general NACO, which are not all documented in one place.