Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Jay Weitz's "Music Coding and Tagging"

Got the first of my nine annotations for my cataloging internship done--eight to go!

Weitz, Jay. Music Coding and Tagging: MARC 21 Content Designation for Scores and Sound Recordings, 2nd ed. Belle Plaine, Minn.: Soldier Creek Press, 2001.

Weitz’s Music Coding and Tagging is an extremely useful reference tool for music catalogers. This second edition, written over a decade after the first, updates the first edition by incorporating changes made since format integration, new Library of Congress Rule Interpretations, new Music Cataloging Decisions, and often, clarifications made by Jay Weitz himself in the course of his work at the Online Computer Library Center in Dublin, Ohio. It begins with a brief synopsis of the development of music cataloging practices within the library community and with the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR), and the Machine Readable Cataloging format (MARC). It covers standard practice for cataloging scores and sound recordings within the MARC 21 communications format, particularly standard practice by the Library of Congress. Also, it gives best practice for interpreting the rules for fixed field elements, control fields, and variable fields. There are three useful appendixes: the first covers obsolete and pre-AACR2 fields (which one might uncover as they are editing older catalog copy), the second defines the differences between OCLC and RLIN formats for MARC, and the third includes many helpful full record examples of scores and sound recordings in both OCLC and RLIN formats.

He also appropriately notes which fields are mandatory, and which are optional. Several fields (or subfields, such as those in field 007) that are not needed by libraries, are marked for archival use only. Most helpful for sound recordings catalogers are the extended discussion of the importance of standard numbers and publishers numbers issued by record labels. Field 007 describes the physical characteristics of an item (in coded form, vs. the descriptive version done in field 300, subfields a-c), and he talks at length about what the options are for each subfield. Those unfamiliar with physical formats of audiovisual materials will find elucidation in this area of the text.

One of the other sources for the book was Weitz’s own Q & A column, published in the periodical, Music OCLC Users Group (MOUG) Newsletter. The breadth and depth of his knowledge related to music and audiovisual cataloging serves him well, in giving examples that relate to everything from scores and commercial recordings to unpublished/archival manuscripts and sound recordings. The book is meant to be a complement to existing cataloging manuals and standards, such as AACR, 2nd edition, 2002 revision. It uses examples for illustrative purposes, even though “cataloging by example is a practice generally frowned upon…, because it falsely suggests that the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of cataloging can be safely ignored.” Still, it is very helpful in cases that are out of the ordinary.

I will use this manual in the course of my internship often as a quick reminder as to what one of a field’s subfield or indicator means, or to understand the applicability of a content designator. Part of why it’s so useful is that it is not as terse as MARC 21 Bibliographic Formats or OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards. A comparison to biblical interpretation might be appropriate here, for the manuals mean what they say, but they often do not say what they mean. Why should we trust one cataloger’s judgment? One need not in theory, but Weitz always clearly states the rationale and context of each decision and clarification he makes.


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