Friday, April 08, 2005

Another cataloging annotation

Smiraglia, Richard P. Describing Music Materials: A Manual for Descriptive Cataloging of Printed and Recorded Music, Music Videos, and Archival Music Collections, 3rd ed. Lake Crystal, Minn.: Soldier Creek Press, 1997.

A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Library Science, Richard P. Smiraglia has been at the forefront of cataloging issues for music-related materials. The majority of Describing Music Materials illuminates the bibliographic description process: for printed music, sound recordings, music videorecordings, interactive multimedia packages, and archival collections of musical documents. This volume also covers choice of access points (author only), which is an especially confusing choice in the area of sound recordings, the construction and use of uniform titles and cross-references in authority records. Smiraglia’s monograph ends with a helpful reference bibliography that should be use by anyone who catalogs music.

The sections which were of primary importance for me this semester were the description of sound recordings, choice and form of entry, and uniform titles sections. Helpful guidance on recording from the chief and prescribed sources of information is provided, as well as useful examples and often, parts or the whole of modifications made by the Library of Congress Rule Interpretations and the Music Cataloging Decisions. The book is geared towards the content and syntax of a catalog record, not the machine-readable formatting language as illustrated in Jay Weitz’s book Music Coding and Tagging.

Smiraglia’s examples are illustrative and plentiful. He doesn’t refrain from listing complex ones, and they serve the purpose of the rules he is trying to amplify. There are twenty-two individual examples in the description of sound recordings section, which range broadly from country, rock ‘n roll, motion picture music, to a range of classical music examples (collective titles, collections, operas, discs with many composers and works).

Perhaps one of the best sections of each of the description chapters is the beginning: the technical reading. In order to clearly understand the item in hand, one must first investigate every piece of the item: the disc, its label, the container and insert, and any enclosure or documentation which accompanies it. One does this reading to ascertain the chief source of information. In sound recordings, this source is usually the label affixed or printed on the disc or tape. There are a number of sources that should be taken account when determining other areas of cataloging, besides the title proper and statement of responsibility. Smiraglia describes these places, and makes the point that a cataloger should use every piece of the item to gather descriptive data from it.

I used Smiraglia’s book in my training to music cataloging. Often, I would refer back to it if I was unsure of a certain situation when cataloging. Describing Music is more of a ready reference tool than his 1989 book Music Cataloging: The Bibliographic Control of Printed and Recorded Music in Libraries. I find all of his works to be helpful and enlightening in the practice of cataloging sound recordings.


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