Vocabularies Subcommittee/Genre Form Task Force: MLA Report 2016

Vocabularies Subcommittee and Genre/Form Task Force Joint Business Meeting
Friday, March 4, 2016, 1:30-3:00pm
Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel (Salon H/I)

Members present:

Vocabularies Subcommittee: Casey Mullin (Chair), Rebecca Belford, Kirk-Evan Billet, Reed David, Emma Dederick, Matt Ertz, Kenneth Kauffman, Kevin Kishimoto, Jacob Schaub, Ann Shaffer, Hannah Spence (via Skype), Jennifer Vaughn, Janelle West, Brad Young, Maarja Vigorito (LC Representative), Jay Weitz (OCLC Representative)

Genre/Form Task Force: Nancy Lorimer (Chair), Ralph Hartsock, Beth Iseminger, Marty Jenkins,
Casey Mullin, Karen Peters, Sheila Torres-Blank, Hermine Vermeij

Absent: Marc McKnight, Thomas Pease

Visitors present: approximately 30

Mullin thanked outgoing VS members Emma Dederick, Kenneth Kauffman and Kevin Kishimoto for their service.

VS Chair’s report (Mullin)

Mullin alerted the meeting to his ALA liaison reports from Annual 2015 (San Francisco) and Midwinter 2016 (Boston), both available on Google Drive.

Annual 2015:
Midwinter 2016:

Mullin summarized the past year’s work, which utilized a working group system, and he deemed it a success. Each working group (hereafter designated as a “task group,” per new CMC nomenclature) is led by either the chair or a coordinator from within the subcommittee, and focuses on a particular maintenance or project area. Reports of particular groups’ activities during the past year are summarized below. Each subcommittee member is required to serve on at least one group; additional group assignments are encouraged so long as the member can commit to the additional work. Assignments carry over from year to year until the member’s term ends, or a re-assignment is requested by the member (this should ideally occur only during the transition time around the Annual Meeting). For the coming year, each group will have vacancies, to be filled by new subcommittee members and continuing members seeking new/additional assignments.

Genre/Form Task Force Chair’s report and business (Lorimer)

Lorimer summarized the final year of work for the Task Force, which is given in greater detail in its final report ( The remaining music genre/form terms held over from original release (in February 2015), whose final disposition was not yet resolved by the time of the 2016 Annual Meeting, will be proposed through the SACO Music Funnel by Lorimer—or dismissed from consideration if appropriate—in consultation with the Vocabularies Subcommittee. Further LCGFT project areas will be taken up by the VS vocabularies maintenance task group as soon as the moratorium on music genre/form term proposals is lifted later in 2016.

Lorimer and the Task Force members were heartily thanked for their more than seven years of dedication in bringing the music portion of LCGFT to fruition. The Task Force was officially discharged at the 2016 MLA Annual Meeting.

LC Liaison’s report (Vigorito)

Vigorito reported that LC music catalogers are “merrily” applying the new music LCGFT terms in current cataloging. The lack of terms for experimental and avant-garde musical genres does present a problem. Lorimer acknowledged the existence of this problem in the development of the music terms, and VS will monitor this as an area for future vocabulary development.

Types of Composition List Task Group (West, and all)

Janelle West, who coordinated the work of the TOC task group, gave a report summarizing the group’s activities over the past year. The group (with the help of the CMC Webmaster) added nine new entries and cross-references to four entries in the TOC list. The group also prepared a number of minor editorial changes to the document, including those stemming from recent renumbering of the RDA instructions.

The subcommittee, with ample input from visitors in the room, then engaged in a discussion regarding the need for an operational definition of the term “cognate,” for the purposes of applying RDA and thereby determining in which cases an English-language term for a type of composition should be prescribed by the TOC list. Two primary factors have led to the current situation: a lack of codified procedures bequeathed from previous groups who maintained the TOC list; and, the ambiguity of the meaning of the term “cognate” in RDA (it is not defined in the Glossary).

The Vocabularies Subcommittee will need to determine whether “cognate” should be understood by its dictionary definition (i.e., a term “descended from the same language or form” as another term (per, or by the connotation more commonly construed by music catalogers (i.e., a term that bears graphic and semantic similarity to a term in another language). Accordingly, VS as a whole will undertake a project in the coming months to articulate this operational definition, and further to prepare a complete set of working procedures for maintaining the TOC list and vetting proposed additions and modifications.

Another ongoing task for the group is to review the TOC list regularly for needed revisions that stem from updates to RDA, the LC-PCC PSs and MLA Best Practices, as well as from other revisions within the list itself.

West was thanked for her report and for her leadership of the task group.

LCMPT Maintenance Task Group (Kishimoto, and all)

Kevin Kishimoto, who coordinated the work of the LCMPT Maintenance task group, gave a report summarizing the group’s activities over the past year. The group undertook 3 projects:

  1. Revision of terms for electronic media.
    Status: SACO proposals were submitted on February 28, 2016
  2. Revision of terms for clarinets.
    Status: SACO proposals were submitted in October 2015 and approved on List 1512 (January 26, 2016)
  3. Revision of and possible additional terms for jazz ensembles.
    Status: SACO proposals were submitted on January 14, 2016

LCGFT project areas will be taken up by VS as soon as the moratorium on music genre/form term proposals is lifted later in 2016. Accordingly, the group has been renamed the “LCMPT/LCGFT Maintenance Task Group.” Priorities for the coming year include:

  • Addressing the “flute problem,” that is, terms that stand for all instruments of a type AND for the most common member of that family. This is a common feature in thesaurus construction and most likely cannot be avoided; however, scope notes can and should be clarified and re-worded as appropriate
  • Adjusting the voice/singer hierarchy in LCMPT
  • Adjusting the Part songs hierarchy in LCGFT
  • Harmonization of performance terms with pre-existing sound recordings hierarchy in LCGFT
  • Vetting and preparing proposals for music genre/form terms “held over” from initial release in LCGFT and deferred by the Genre/Form Task Force

Kishimoto was thanked for his report and for his leadership of the task group. As he is rotating off the subcommittee, Kirk-Evan Billet has been appointed the new coordinator for this task group.

Thematic Indexes List (MLATI) Task Group (Schaub, and all)

Jacob Schaub, who coordinated the work of the MLATI task group, gave a report summarizing the group’s activities over the past year. The group (with the help of the CMC Webmaster) added eight new entries to MLATI. Four of these permit thematic index numbers for variant access points only; the other four will permit index numbers in both variant and authorized access points, once LC grants authorization for AAP use. One pending addition (for Gaetano Brunetti) will require access point cleanup, which LC will tend to.

Two discussion items followed the report. The first concerned the desired protocol for publicizing modifications to MLATI. In the past, LC reported new thematic catalogs to the Music Cataloging Bulletin. Ray Schmidt (former chair of the Authorities Subcommittee) sent reports to MCB during the period when that group maintained MLATI. Going forward, VS will report MLATI changes to MCB as they are made, in a manner similar to how TOC updates are reported. Whereas Schmidt would wait on publicizing a new entry until LC issued its decision on AAP usage, VS will publicize a new entry even when AAP usage is pending. It was questioned whether MLA should still seek LC approval on AAP usage, as MLATI is solely maintained by MLA. However, the National Authority File is hosted by LC, and given the authority file maintenance that can result from index numbers being added to AAPs, LC’s buy-in is still desired when the content of AAPs are in question. VS will reconsider this issue periodically as it gains more experience as the maintaining body of MLATI.

The second discussion item concerned the treatment of newly-published thematic indexes. Should VS wait until a community member makes a proposal, or can it be more proactive in adding new indexes to MLATI as soon as they are published and therefore available for use as a reference source? A question was raised about the need for determining literary warrant of new thematic index numbering system; do publishers and reference sources cite the index numbers? While this is an important factor to consider, it is not seen as absolutely essential. Rather, physical access to the new index by a member of the MLATI task group is what is always required in order to properly vet the catalog and verify a supplied citation. By default, a new entry (however its existence is brought to VS’s awareness) will permit VAP usage, but AAP usage will still require LC authorization (see preceding paragraph).

Lastly, Kathy Glennan (ALA Representative to the RDA Steering Committee) suggested registering MLATI as an RDA vocabulary. The first iteration of MLATI (created by Damian Iseminger and the Authorities Subcommittee, and hosted on the old BCC website) did feature Linked Data-friendly RDFa markup. Registering an RDA vocabulary will require similar marking up of MLATI’s current content. VS agreed to undertake this endeavor as a long-term project.

Schaub was thanked for his report and for his leadership of the task group.

LCMPT/LCGFT Best Practices Task Group (Mullin)

Mullin reported on the activity of this task group over the past year. In a remarkably productive year, the group prepared: the first version of the document Best Practices for Using LCGFT for Music Resources (released June 2015); and, an extensive revision and expansion of the document Best Practices for Using LCMPT (released February 2016), dropping the qualifier “Provisional” from the title.

Mullin has been in contact with Janis Young, LC Policy and Standards Division, regarding how MLA’s best practices will dovetail with forthcoming LC manual content. Its Genre/Form Terms Manual ( has been released, with a placeholder instruction sheet for music. A separate Medium of Performance Terms Manual is anticipated. The best practices task group will remain in a holding pattern while LC PSD prepares its music content. It is likely that VS will follow a 1-2 year revision cycle for each of its documents, assuming separate MLA documents are desirable and necessary after LC content is available.

Though not music-specific, a draft of the LC Demographic Group Terms Manual is available at Mullin gave a brief introduction to LCGFT at the CMC Town Hall during the MLA Annual Meeting. Music catalogers are encouraged to begin applying LCDGT in current cataloging.

Working Group on Developing and Refining Algorithms to Derive LCGFT/LCMPT from LCSH (Mullin)

Mullin reported on the activity of this working group over the past year. Following on the preliminary work done by the former Subject Access Subcommittee just prior to the 2015 MLA Annual Meeting, the current VS group evaluated several iterations of a program written by Gary Strawn (Northwestern University) to derive LCMPT terms in 382 fields from LCSH music form/genre/medium headings in 650 fields. The latest version (and associated natural-language documentation) was completed by Strawn in May 2015, and the documentation and test results are available on Google Drive. The VS group was in a holding pattern for much of the rest of the year, while other more pressing business (e.g., the best practices documents) occupied its members‘ attention.

During the coming year, the retrospective faceted term project will move back to the “front burner,” focusing on LCGFT terms. Concurrently, the ALA Subcommittee on Genre/Form Implementation is beginning work in this area across disciplines. They will prepare a mapping of LCSH form subdivisions to their corresponding LCGFT (and possibly also LCDGT) terms. Similarly, the VS group will prepare a mapping for music LCSH subdivisions. The two groups will collaborate as needed, with Mullin as liaison. As suggested at last year’s SAS business meeting, a white paper arguing the case for pursuing programmatic generation of LCMPT and LCGFT (and other controlled terms as appropriate) from existing LCSH headings should be prepared and submitted to PCC–with copy to LC and OCLC as well—in order to solicit PCC’s support for a large-scale (national) conversion project similar to the conversion of the LC/National Authority File to RDA. Based on the aforementioned developments at the ALA level, and on the universal desire to enhance faceted access to library resources, it was decided that MLA should be a signatory to any such white paper prepared by the appropriate ALA body, rather than authoring it itself.

Also discussed at last year’s meeting is the need to articulate “functional requirements,” “possibilities and parameters” and other assumptions about how the new faceted genre/form/medium metadata should be utilized in discovery environments for users seeking music resources. There are strong tie-ins with best practices, further development of the vocabularies, retrospective efforts, and broader efforts to advocate for and articulate music discovery requirements. All of these aspects will inform the VS project group in its ongoing work.

The status of this group as a “task group” (internal to VS) or “working group” (CMC-wide, but anchored within VS), is to be determined. The need for participation by non-MLA members (Strawn in particular), suggests the latter. The group has been provisionally renamed the “[Task/Working] Group on Deriving Faceted Music Terms from LCSH.”

Respectfully submitted,
Casey Mullin