Frequently Asked Questions & Help

How do I get help or advice when I have a music cataloging question?

Ask a music cataloger! A member of the Cataloging and Metadata Committee will respond to your question by email. We want your music cataloging to be the best it can be, and we are eager to help you apply the various rules, best practices, and norms that pertain to music materials. We also encourage you to subscribe to MOUG-L, the electronic discussion list of the Music OCLC Users Group (MOUG), where those who catalog music ask and answer detailed music cataloging questions in a collaborative, supportive environment. Topics include RDA, MARC, LCSH, LCGFT, LCMPT, and more. Anyone may subscribe to the list, read the discussions, and post relevant messages. Finally, for self-service, see MOUG’s list of cataloging resources, including Music Cataloging at Yale.

What does the MLA Cataloging and Metadata Committee do?

A lot! CMC subcommittees develop and maintain vocabularies for use in music cataloging (such as LCMPT for musical medium of performance terms and LCGFT for musical form and genre terms), assist in augmenting the MARC standard to accommodate music materials, develop and maintain music-specific “best practices” documents to supplement cataloging standards like RDA, sponsor three music-specific PCC funnels, and much more. CMC also convenes task forces and working groups as needed to work on certain focused projects in a concentrated time. See our Groups page and PCC Funnels page for more information.

How do I join one of the subcommittees of the MLA Cataloging and Metadata Committee?

Write to us and let us know you are interested! We accept applications for subcommittee membership (a four-year term) in the month or two leading up to the MLA meeting each year (which is usually in February), and we make decisions on assignments during a closed session at the end of the meeting. Watch MLA-L for the call for applications each winter. Applications consist of a brief statement of interest and summary of your relevant background and are typically due to the CMC Chair by the Friday evening of the MLA meeting. Earlier is better. See the CMC Handbook on our Groups page for more information.

How do I keep up with developments in the world of music cataloging and metadata?

So many ways! CMC shares information pertinent to the music cataloging and metadata community via MLA-L, the MLA Newsletter, the Music Cataloging Bulletin, the CMC blog (which you can subscribe to or simply bookmark), occasional webinars and screencasts, and CMC-sponsored forums and presentations at the annual MLA meeting.

What should I do if I have an idea for a program session at MLA that is related to music cataloging or metadata?

Let us know! CMC sponsors a few program sessions at the MLA meeting each year, so contact the CMC Chair with your ideas, big or small. CMC develops and submits proposals for content during the month or two after the MLA meeting for the following year’s meeting. However, you may share your ideas at any time.

How do I suggest a revision to the RDA Best Practices?

Send your ideas – Suggestions submitted through this form will be considered by the Content Standards Subcommittee (you can also check the status of submissions). RDA Best Practices revisions usually appear quarterly in sync with the RDA Toolkit update cycle. The RDA Supplements documents are published separately and are available at the CMC website.

How do I suggest a revision to RDA?

Send your ideas – The Content Standards Subcommittee works with ALA Core’s Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA) to develop music-related discussion papers and revision proposals regarding RDA. These papers and proposals are then forwarded to the North American RDA Committee, which formally presents them to the RDA Steering Committee for action.

How do I suggest a new or revised LC-PCC Policy Statement or an update to LC-PCC Metadata Guidance Documents?

For simple changes, the PCC RDA Communications Committee maintains a feedback form for suggestions for additions or revisions to LC-PCC policy content. The status of submissions is also tracked. For more complex, music-specific revisions, use the MLA RDA Best Practices suggestion form, noting a need for LC-PCC updates, so that the Content Standards Subcommittee can coordinate with the Library of Congress and PCC.

How do I make a suggestion or ask a question about music vocabularies or specific terms

Send your suggestion. We welcome LC vocabularies (LCSH, LCMPT, LCGFT) questions, project ideas, questions about the process, and specific proposals.

How do I propose a new or revised music subject heading, genre/form term, or medium of performance term?

You are encouraged to develop proposals for new and revised music LCSH headings, LCMPT terms, and music LCGFT terms through the SACO Music Funnel. A good starting point is contacting the SACO Music Funnel Coordinator with ideas and questions. For more information, see the SACO Music Funnel page.

How do I report a problem or unexpected result encountered using the Music Toolkit, or submit other feedback about the Music Toolkit?

Send your suggestion. The Vocabularies Subcommittee’s coordinator and Gary Strawn welcome questions about the Music Toolkit, which assists in automated application of faceted data in bibliographic records, and will use your reports of unexpected behavior in order to improve the Toolkit, refine the underlying Algorithm, or both. You may also want to check for updated versions of the Music Toolkit, Music Toolkit documentation, and other Music Toolkit documents. Additionally, see the MLA technical report, Retrospective Implementation of Faceted Vocabularies for Music, for background information.

How do I propose new or revised terms on the Types of Compositions list?

Send your proposal. The Vocabularies Subcommittee’s coordinator for the Types list welcomes terms for consideration or questions about terms or titles.

How do I propose new or revised entries on the Thematic Indexes list (MLATI)?

Send your proposal. The Vocabularies Subcommittee’s coordinator for MLATI maintenance welcomes suggestions for new or revised entries in the MLATI list, and any questions on existing entries.

How do I suggest a revision to the LCMPT or LCGFT Best Practices?

Send your suggestion. Revisions to the LC Vocabularies Best Practices (currently for LCMPT and LCGFT) are made periodically as needed and as community practices evolve with these emerging vocabularies.

How do I make suggestions for changes to MARC21?

Send your suggestion. The Encoding Standards Subcommittee will discuss your ideas and can develop discussion papers and proposals to submit for consideration by the MARC Advisory Committee.

How long does it take to make a change to the MARC21 format?

It depends. Very simple corrections to MARC21 documentation can be handled by the Encoding Standards Subcommittee Chair in consultation with the Library of Congress’s Network Development and Standards Office (NDMSO). These changes would then be published in the next update to the MARC formats, something that happens at least twice a year. There is also a “fast-track” process to accommodate smaller changes to the formats when they aren’t likely to be controversial, or when they would not impact users outside of a domain such as music. The total turnaround time from proposal to publication for fast-track proposals could be several months to less than a year.

More complex changes are often a two-step process that begins with a discussion paper drafted by the Encoding Standards Subcommittee, which is then submitted for formal review by the full MARC Advisory Committee, followed by discussion by the MARC Steering Committee. The successful discussion papers return as formal proposals that go through the same review process. Minimally, this process takes a year, though eighteen months would be a more realistic minimum time period. Full implementation of the published standards by OCLC and others would take even longer.

How do I suggest resources for the Metadata for Music Resources page?

Send your suggestion. The Encoding Standards Subcommittee will examine the resource and and add it to the appropriate category on the next scheduled update to the page.

What if I have suggestions for changing or developing other encoding standards?

Expertise within the Encoding Standards Subcommittee is broad, but its membership may not be expert on the encoding standard you would like to improve. Share your suggestion with the Chair of the Encoding Standards Subcommittee, and the subcommittee will take it on if we feel that we can deal with it properly. BIBFRAME is definitely in development as a potential successor to MARC, though formal mechanisms to contribute to its evolution aren’t fully developed. Still, feel free to share your ideas or concerns.