Provider-Neutral Cataloging for Digital Scores (March 3, 2021)

Keith Knop (University of Georgia)

Chuck Peters (Indiana University)

Summary by Chelsea Hoover (Syracuse University)

In this presentation Chuck Peters, the head of music cataloging at Indiana University, and Keith Knop, the head of music cataloging at the University of Georgia, discussed the process of creating provider-neutral bibliographic records for digital scores, as well as policies and guidelines to consider when creating such records. Chuck opened the presentation by discussing the challenges cataloging digital scores has presented. Among the challenges of cataloging digital scores has been the lack of music-specific guidelines. Furthermore, Chuck noted that various methods of discovery and acquisition, such as vendor supplied or composer supplied scores, as well as various licensing, circulation, and access decisions, have impacted how these scores have been processed and cataloged.

Chuck observed that while the music-specific documentation for creating provider-neutral records for digital scores has been lacking, general cataloging guidelines and procedures, such as the PCC Provider-Neutral E-Resource MARC Records Guide and the OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards, could serve as helpful documentation. In fact, Chuck noted that he would discuss later in the presentation how he had applied these procedures and guidelines to cataloging a digital score.  

Chuck went on to describe the PCC Provider-Neutral E-Resource MARC Records Guide’s policies for creating provider-neutral records. He stated that in the introduction, the guidelines define the provider-neutral model as a model in which “single bibliographic records are used to describe multiple online manifestations of a resource regardless of which publisher or aggregator is making the content available”. Chuck added that these guidelines state that the provider-neutral model should apply only to equivalent manifestations of the same expression. Therefore, differences in manifestations that may indicate a different expression (such as differences in edition) merit a separate bibliographic record. He continued that the provider-neutral model is intended to encompass the following types of resources: online resources simultaneously issued in physical format and online, online digital reproductions of physical format resources, and online born digital resources. Furthermore, these records created under the provider-neutral model are only meant to be used as base records on which libraries can add provider-specific information locally.

Chuck noted that the PCC guidelines only allow certain provider-specific information in provider-neutral bibliographic records. This acceptable provider-specific information includes the following: additional titles specific to the aggregator; field 588 “description based on” notes for born-digital resources; publisher or aggregator URLs that do not contain institution-specific components (such as proxy-server data); and additional ISBNs or other identifiers for monographs. The PCC guidelines, however, do not allow the following provider-specific information: provider names in edition or publication statements; distribution, manufacture, and series statements; notes about access restrictions, file formats and sizes, subscription information, or system requirements specific to particular providers; information about individual database names, e-package names, or third-party aggregators; and field 533, a field used for descriptive data about a specific reproduction, except for when it is used for digital preservation projects such as HathiTrust Digital Library. Chuck stated that keeping such provider-specific information out of bibliographic records from the outset of cataloging was pertinent, even if a single provider initially provided the resource, because multiple providers could end up providing that same resource later.

Chuck also briefly discussed the special guidelines for provider-neutral cataloging in chapter three of the OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards. These guidelines mirrored the ones from the PCC Provider Neutral E-Resource MARC Records Guide and contained separate sections for creating provider-neutral records for online digital resources and photocopies and print on demand reproductions. 

Next Keith examined how the PCC Provider Neutral Guidelines apply to MARC fields. He noted that elements in some MARC fields, such as the leader and fixed fields, are mandatory and look the same in every record. In the “form” fixed field, for instance, either code o (for online resources) or code q (for a direct electronic resource such as a CD-ROM) will always be recorded, while subfield $m (for computer file) will always be recorded in the 006 field, and the subfield $a in the 007 field will always use code c for electronic resource. The 040 field will also have two subfield $e, with the first subfield $e indicating that the record is in rda and the second subfield $e indicating that the record is provider neutral.

Keith next discussed essential MARC fields in provider-neutral records that will vary from record to record depending on the nature of the resource being cataloged. The 3XX fields (which describe the physical nature of the resource) were one such MARC field he mentioned. Another varying but essential field he touched on was the 588 field, which references notes about the source of the description, including the date on which the resource was viewed. 

Keith additionally mentioned MARC fields that could be included if a print version of the digital resource existed. Keith cited the 02X fields as one such example and noted that including identifiers such as the ISBN, ISNM, or publisher and plate numbers for any corresponding print version of the resource has not been an uncommon practice in digital score records. If these identifiers are included, however, he noted that they must include elements such as subfield $z (if recording ISBN or ISNM numbers) or subfield $q to indicate that these identifying numbers only describe the print versions of the resource. Keith also added that a 776 field, which links to the OCLC record of an existing print resource, must be included if the print version of a digital resource is referenced anywhere else in the digital resource bibliographic record.

Finally, Keith added that the 856 fields could also be included, but per PCC Provider-Neutral guidelines, the urls would need to omit any institution-specific information.

Before showing the sample provider-neutral bibliographic record he had created of a digital score, Chuck briefly remarked that the score and part(s) for digital scores may exist together in the same PDF file or be provided in separate PDF files. He said that the local cataloging practice at Indiana University has been to record “1 score and part” in the 300 field if the score and part(s) are in the same PDF file and to record “1 score + parts” in the 300 field if the score and part(s) are in separate PDF files. He then showed his catalog record for Matthew Tommasini’s “Towards the Wall: for Contrabass and Piano” as an example of such a composition in which the score and contrabass part existed in separate PDF files. He noted that he had also included a 500 note that indicated that the score and part were in separate PDF files. Furthermore, since his institution circulated the print version of the score, he had included a 776 field with a link to the OCLC print score record. While showing those fields, Chuck also pointed out other fields he had applied to this record per PCC Provider-Neutral guidelines, such as the 588 field. 

Chuck mentioned that he had determined the print score’s page size by looking up the page size measurements in the PDF file’s document properties. He said he did this because Indiana University’s in-house bindery has based their binding decisions for such PDF print scores on this formatting information. He asked whether anyone thought this was legal cataloging practice, as the PCC Provider-Neutral Guidelines indicate that he should ignore the page size. But no one had a definitive answer.

Keith concluded the presentation by observing that because much of the content in provider-neutral records is similar, both he and Chuck recommended applying constant data in OCLC to streamline the process for creating records or converting derived physical records into electronic records. He said applying constant data to records could be done through Connexion Client, Connexion Browser, or Record Manager, and the OCLC links in their presentation slides provided guidelines on how to proceed with this application. 

When applying constant data, Keith recommended utilizing asterisks in fields catalogers wished to retain, especially when deriving a record, as resulting blank fields from constant data application would overwrite anything not retained. In variable fields, Keith noted that repeatable fields would be added when applying constant data, while nonrepeatable fields would fully replace fields currently in the record. Because there is no way to replace or retain specific blank subfields, Keith suggested adding in bracketed placeholder text.

Following the presentation, one question was brought up that inquired whether there were best practices underway that would help establish more consistent community-wide cataloging of digital scores. Keith and Chuck affirmed that the Electronic Scores Cataloging Task Group within the CMC Content Standards Subcommittee is currently working on provisional best practices. They added that the task group is furthermore collaborating with the larger Music Library Association Electronic Scores Working Group, as issues outside of cataloging such as varying methods of acquisition, as well as varying licensing and access decisions, can significantly affect how these scores are processed and cataloged. While no concrete guidelines have been established yet, Keith and Chuck seemed optimistic that both the task group and the larger MLA Working Group would come up with more consistent, community-wide guidelines for cataloging and access of these digital scores that would later become widely available.