Encoding Standards Subcommittee: MLA Report 2020

Minutes, Cataloging and Metadata Committee

Encoding Standards Subcommittee Business Meeting

February 27, 2020, 3:30-4:55 PM

Salon H, Hilton Norfolk The Main, Norfolk, VA



Members in attendance: Karen Peters (Chair), Jim Alberts (taking notes), Margaret Corby, Ethan D’Ver, Matt Ertz, Rahni Kennedy, Casey Mullin, Tomoko Shibuya, Amy Strickland, Damian Iseminger (LC representative), Jay Weitz (OCLC representative).

Members not present: Chelsea Hoover, Nancy Lorimer, Felicia Piscitelli.

1) Welcome and Introductions

The Chair welcomed attendees to the meeting and asked the Subcommittee members to introduce themselves.

2) Adjustments to the Agenda


3) ESS Chair’s Report (Peters)

The Chair briefly outlined items of particular note from ALA Annual 2019 and Midwinter 2020 (see the Agenda for pertinent links); acknowledged new (since the last meeting) Subcommittee members Jim Alberts, Ethan D’Ver, Rahni Kennedy, and Casey Mullin; and thanked outgoing Subcommittee members Margaret Corby, Nancy Lorimer, and Casey Mullin for their past service.

4) Library of Congress Liaison Report (Iseminger)

Damian Iseminger reported that the latest Voyager upgrade at LC will, pending formal LC approval, permit full use of the latest subfields in the MARC Bibliographic and Authority formats. He also outlined current BIBFRAME activity at LC, including the focus on cataloging in vernacular scripts with limited Romanization; and efforts underway to convert BIBFRAME descriptions to MARC records: it is expected that some organizations will not adopt BIBFRAME and LC will continue to provide MARC records for these as a result. Future goals for BIBFRAME include the creation of full authority records in BIBFRAME, improvements in BIBFRAME searchability, the importation of data from sources other than the LC ILS, and aligning BIBFRAME with LC’s post-Voyager ILS. Damian also reported that in the future, will contain bibliographic as well as authority records, in part because it is anticipated that distinctions currently made between bibliographic and authority data will change due to the adoption of IFLA-LRM.

5) Metadata for Music Resources Task Group Report (Ethan D’Ver, TG Leader)

Following a long period of dormancy, the Task Group was reformed/revitalized and has spent the last year evaluating the categories on the MMR website and going through its contents item-by-item; planning a user experience test, execution of which has been on hold pending the (now-completed) redesign and unveiling of the CMC website; improving coverage through the addiition of new content, including BIBFRAME and the Performed Music Ontology; fixing broken links; and removing or revising some resource descriptions. Ethan also noted that the TG has been pondering the site’s underlying and outdated assumptions regarding the distinction “MARC vs. Metadata.”

6) MARC Cataloging Inefficiencies Task Group Report (Matt Ertz, TG Leader)

After initial ESS discussions on the Wiki, the MCI Task Group was formed and began work in August 2019 identifying inefficiencies and potential solutions, which the members recorded on a spreadsheet. By December, the TG had noticed that there were fewer recommendations than had been expected due to a number of factors, including use of the OCLC Music Toolkit, and the current environment of changing content and encoding standards. Also, many of the recommendations involved changes or additions to MLA’s Cataloging Best Practices rather than to the MARC format itself. The TG therefore recommends postponing further work until the environment becomes more settled, and to consider making the reconvened Task Group a joint ESS/CSS Task Group.

TG member Casey Mullin suggested that since some MARC fields are often used out of “tradition or culture” (for example, Fields 047 (Form of Musical Composition Code) and 048 (Number of Musical Instruments or Voices Code)), the TG could go ahead and recommend that the coding of these fields be optional, without waiting for the environment to settle. It was similarly recognized that other of the TG’s suggestions might be appropriately recommended at this time. It was then suggested that the TG prepare a survey for music catalogers and heads of cataloging departments in order to gauge the impact of these sorts of recommendations, after which those still deemed appropriate could be presented during a session at MLA Annual in 2021.

7) Updates on MARC Development This Year (Peters)

Before giving details on select MARC papers and proposals of special interest, the Chair pointed out general trends observed in the past year, particularly the beginning of work towards accommodating beta RDA in MARC, as well as that towards accommodating the needs of BIBFRAME-to-MARC conversion.

  • MARC Proposal No. 2019-05: Noteworthy in this Proposal (now approved) for changes in Field 041 (Language Code) is the distinction made between the definition of librettos ($e) and the newly-added accompanying transcripts for audiovisual materials ($t), a matter on which the ESS was consulted by OLAC during the Proposal’s drafting.
  • MARC Discussion Paper No. 2020-DP03: The Chair pointed out potential issues regarding the proposed addition of $q (Sound Content) to Field 340 (Physical Medium), which could have implications for the cataloging of sound recordings. It has been recommended that both MLA and OLAC be consulted before this Discussion Paper moves forward.
  • MARC Discussion Paper No. 2020-DP05: Reinstatement of Field 241 (Romanized Title) as proposed in this paper would help facilitate cataloging in vernacular scripts with minimal romanization, which could have implications for the cataloging of music materials as is done currently. At the Marc Advisory Committee meeting at ALA Midwinter 2020, however, the paper’s authors clarified that the proposal is intended to facilitate BIBFRAME experiments in this direction by the Library of Congress and would not preclude continuation of current Romanization practices by other institutions.

8.) Possible Changes to MARC for Consideration

  • It has been suggested that Form of Notation should be moved from $b of Field 546 (Language Note). Field 348 (Format of Notated Music) might be a more appropriate location for this information, and $c could be used to record an RDA-controlled term. Since these terms have been registered as an RDA value vocabulary with the RDA Registry (RDA Form of Musical Notation: ), source of the term could be recorded in $2 with a link to its corresponding URI in $0 (note neither $2 nor $0 is available in Field 546). This would require repeating Field 348, as the Format of Notated Music terms recorded in $a come from a separate registered vocabulary. The Subcommittee agreed that a MARC discussion paper should be written for presentation at ALA Annual in June.
  • Possible changes to Field 300 (Physical Description) were discussed, specifically the implementation of $f (Type of unit) to replace the recording of this information in $a (Extent), a move that might also have implications for the current practice of recording of duration in $a. Little to no interest in implementing $f was expressed, particularly since it would also imply moving the item’s Dimensions from $c to $g (Size of unit in $f). There was nevertheless some interest in the possibility of recording duration somewhere other than $a, either relying on Field 306 (Playing Time) to convey this information or determining a more comprehensible (to humans) mechanism instead. Kathy Glennan recommended that we refrain from proposing any changes to Duration at this time, as extent in beta RDA will be soon be undergoing revision. As a result, the Subcommittee agreed to revisit the issue of duration after these revisions have been completed.
  • The Subcommittee next discussed the possibility of expanding the terminology in Field 384 (Key) beyond key and mode (major or minor). It was noted, however, that while key and mode can be used to identify/distinguish among works, terms like “atonal” or “maqam hijaz” are generally not used for this purpose. Damian Iseminger clarified that the origin of the issue was a failed attempt to establish 12 tone music as a genre, suggesting that another way need be found to indicate works as 12 tone. No solution to this complex problem was devised at this time; the issue will be revisited at the ESS meeting in 2021, if not sooner.
  • Regarding the possible implementation of Field 758 (Resource Identifier), raised as New Business during the 2019 ESS Business Meeting, the Chair noted that a decision will not be made until the PCC Linked Data Best Practices Task Group makes its recommendation on the matter.
  • The question of a need to record the structure/nature of the parts of a musical work in MARC was raised. Recognizing that there was no time left for discussion, the Chair asked Casey Mullin, who brought up the issue during the last year, to briefly explain his thought on the matter. In the interest of time, Casey noted that the (then) BCC Working Group on Work Records for Music had investigated the issue more than a decade ago, and that its conclusions were included in its final Report: . ESS will revisit the issue at its 2021 meeting, if not before.


9) New Business


10) Adjournment


Respectfully submitted,

Jim Alberts and Karen Peters