Volume 55, no. 3, 2017



Cataloging News, Violet B. Fox, Editor


Original Articles

The "Wicked Problem" of Neutral Description: Toward a Documentation Approach to Metadata Standards
Kara Long, Santi Thompson, Sarah Potvin & Monica Rivero

ABSTRACT: Increasingly, metadata standards have been recognized as constructed rather than neutral. In this article, we argue for the importance of a documentation approach to metadata standards creation as a codification of this growing recognition. By making design decisions explicit, the documentation approach dispels presumptions of neutrality and, drawing on the "wicked problems" theoretical framework, acknowledges the constructed nature of standards as "clumsy solutions."

Metadata standards, electronic theses and dissertations, institutional repositories, descriptive cataloging

Providing Cognitively Just Subject Access to Indigenous Knowledge through Knowledge Organization Systems
Heather Moulaison Sandy & Jenny Bossaller

ABSTRACT: This article explores cognitively just, reliable subject access to indigenous knowledge through knowledge organization systems (KOSs). Cognitive justice requires that indigenous people be able to access materials in a way that respects their worldview, yet dominant KOSs are based on positivist, Western approaches that are fundamentally incompatible. Alternatives to universal systems include the creation of new KOSs and the adaptation of universal ones. Going forward, emerging web technologies are presented as key to moving away from universalist schemes and toward specialized access.

KEYWORDS: indigenous knowledge, cognitive justice, information ethics, knowledge organization systems (KOSs)

Advancing Professional Learning in Libraries: An Exploratory Study of Cataloging and Metadata Professionals' Experiences and Perspectives on Continuing Education Issues
Jung-ran Park & Yuji Tosaka

ABSTRACT: Based on a set of web survey data, this study examines cataloging and metadata professionals' perspectives on issues surrounding continuing education. The results show that emerging data standards such as the Semantic Web and BIBFRAME, as well as metadata and digital library-related topics, are subject areas currently central to their professional concerns, in addition to RDA, for professional development. Topics such as ontologies, social tagging, and automatic metadata generation were rarely reported. Meaningful interactions were often found to be lacking in online education. The results provide evidence of the need to expand the pool of shared expertise to meet our collective needs for continuing education in the cataloging and metadata community.

KEYWORDS: Continuing education, catalogers, metadata professionals, Semantic Web, BIBFRAME, RDA, metadata

Cataloging News

News Editor

Welcome to the news column. Its purpose is to disseminate information on any aspect of cataloging and classification that may be of interest to the cataloging community. This column is not just intended for news items, but serves to document discussions of interest as well as news concerning you, your research efforts, and your organization. Please send any pertinent materials, notes, minutes, or reports to: Violet Fox via email at violetbfox@gmail.com, phone: 320-363-3032. News columns will typically be available prior to publication in print from the CCQ website at http://catalogingandclassificationquarterly.com/ .

We would appreciate receiving items having to do with:

Research and Opinion

  • Abstracts or reports of on-going or unpublished research
  • Bibliographies of materials available on specific subjects
  • Analysis or description of new technologies
  • Call for papers
  • Comments or opinions on the art of cataloging


  • Notes, minutes, or summaries of meetings, etc. of interest to catalogers
  • Publication announcements
  • Description of grants
  • Description of projects


  • Announcements of changes in personnel
  • Announcements of honors, offices, and so on


AIB-CILW 2016 Conference: Revamping Information Resources: Granularity, Interoperability, and Data Integration
Roma, Biblioteca nazionale centrale
October 21, 2016
Conference report submitted by Roberto Raieli, AIB-CILW Study Group chair

The mission of the AIB-CILW Study Group (the Study Group on Cataloguing, Indexing, Linked Open Data and Semantic Web [CILW] of the Italian Library Association [AIB]), which organized the Conference, is the comprehensive theoretical and technical study for the development of information principles and methods related to new technologies. As a consequence, the Group aims to attempt the coordination and consolidation of the community of scholars in the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) or LAMMS (Libraries, Archives, Museums, Monuments, and Sites) fields, which sometimes duplicates tasks unnecessarily, not taking shared benefits from the exchange of experiences. The Study Group's ultimate goal is to have a significant impact on the definition of the technological methodologies for qualification and dissemination of information and knowledge, for the benefit of the cultural needs of citizens and for welfare development, as described in the Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development.

One of the first activities of the Group inspired by the work program, and by international collaboration, has been the making of the essay Old wine, new bottle? Principles and methods for a true innovation in LIS perspectives. The essay of interviews with Marshall Breeding, Mauro Guerrini, David Weinberger, Paul Gabriele Weston, and Maja Žumer is available at http://aibstudi.aib.it/article/view/11384/10616. Through this article, the Group wanted to focus on the evolution of theories and practices of description and organization of information and resources. If the underlying principles are not adequate, updated and simultaneously durable, it serves no purpose to try to propose a new methodology as real innovation.

The Group's next activity of international scope, the AIB-CILW 2016 Conference, has been oriented by some considerations on the state of cultural heritage in general and that of the bodies that are concerned with its protection and enhancement. Rapid technological changes, the growing information overflow, and ever-smaller funding to sustain cultural institutions limit the management and curation of information resources. The risk to underinvest in information and knowledge resources is very high. Nonetheless, business and technology means can be directed towards the creation of new chances for the revamping of information resources that meet the growing needs of the information society. Two of the priorities of this new course are cooperation and convergence of tools and intents among cultural institutions.

Despite the differences between administrations, cultural institutions that manage and mediate knowledge resources are implicitly coping with similar problems due to "digital convergence", for example when they curate their collections (while describing, cataloging, creating metadata, indexing, disseminating, preserving them for access). Moreover, the goal they pursue has always been the same: to offer a service and to enhance culture and knowledge for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole. In this respect, Semantic Web and Linked Open Data (LOD) have been acclaimed as long-waited solutions to the issues raised by projects of cooperative management of resources, and open up new hope for an actual integration among data of any type and provenance.

The AIB-CILW 2016 Conference started from these specific issues, and their possible solutions, inviting scholars and professionals of Library and Information Science (LIS) and related disciplines to meet and discuss these topics, with focus on technologies and projects based on LOD and Semantic Web. Inside the Web of Data, what kind of convergence is to be implemented among the different cultural institutions that are in charge of the organization and curation of knowledge resources? Are there sufficiently convergent historical, theoretical, and practical bases to build on and rethink information strategies? Among GLAM/LAMMS projects, which is the current state-of-the-art? And yet, is it enough to critically evaluate the possibilities for dissemination and operation of the semantic system? Or is it necessary to specify the reasons for, and interest in, this reorganization of the way we produce and disseminate data? Finally, what are the historical and theoretical backgrounds for the convergence of library, archive and museum studies? Admitting that there is a historical vocation and a theoretical assumption for the convergence, what are the technical and administrative tools that can really enable the realization?

The Conference was structured in three Sessions, and each gave different answers to these questions. First of all, however, the Conference wanted to put together experiences, research, and studies, and also to provide a chance for scholars and professionals to make interdisciplinary contacts so they can exchange, at the international level, the results of their experiences. The overall aim was to create new ways to discuss and organize, so that theoretical, historical, practical, professional, cultural, social, and interdisciplinary aspects come together and promote cooperative projects to the benefit of actual cultural information needs of the people.

First session: From OPACs to Semantic Web browsing: History, theory, and practice of convergent information highways

In the first Session, chaired by Alberto Petrucciani (Sapienza University of Roma), the Group wanted to focus on a thorough theoretical and innovative reflection on the convergence of information resources through linked data, in order to clarify the main theme of the Conference, through the voice of the invited speakers.

Maurizio Vivarelli (University of Torino) presented a paper entitled "See the Information: Data, People, Documents Mediation." He took into consideration some essential characteristics of representation and retrieval in digital information environments created by libraries, archives, and museums, with particular reference to the LOD technology. But, about the possible integration of the descriptive models, he noted that in-depth studies on issues of the different disciplinary traditions do not seem to have produced significant outcomes. Referring to some classic Marcia Bates studies, Vivarelli proposed some considerations relating to the actual presence of data of different types, that all combine to realize the "model" of the so-called Web of data. Then he discussed the aesthetic and cognitive configuration of interfaces, through data visualization and data storytelling, concluding that it is possible to try to identify a perceptive and cognitive infrastructure, able to promote the adoption of adequate and effective information behaviors by users.

The argument discussed by Paul Gabriele Weston (University of Pavia) was entitled "E pluribus unum? The Authority Data, a Key Element of Interoperability." The author premised that authority files, used to uniquely identify various entities, are crucial for providing adequate information retrieval and analysis in the digital age: computers, even more than humans, are poor at handling ambiguity, therefore each entity and each step has to be thoroughly and precisely defined, allowing computers to navigate from identifier to identifier. Stressing the possibility of a wide adoption of LOD, Weston noted that experts are claiming that controlling permanent and unique identifiers is more crucial than organizing and validating strings within authority work. In many cases a cluster of identifiers can facilitate the creation of systems made of data differing in structure, language, and format. So, identifiers can be part of a strategy aiming at preserving the original context of the record, as well as enhancing what is known as cross-fertilization and the creation of new dynamic e-reference tools.

Maria Teresa Biagetti (Sapienza University of Roma) discussed "Ontologies for Semantic Interoperability in Heterogeneous Sources of Cultural Heritage." The aim of her paper was to provide an overview of the opportunities offered by the technologies of the Semantic Web to create tools devoted to the exchange and the integration of information among heterogeneous sources of cultural heritage. Given particular consideration was CIDOC-CRM (the Conceptual Reference Model of the International Council of Museums' Documentation Committee), used in the fields of History of the arts, History, and Archeology, which offers a conceptual model to define the semantics underlying the schemes and the document structures used in cultural heritage. Biagetti presented its classes, its structural properties, and the basis of the formal ontologies: description logics, underlining the role that ontologies elaborated by international cultural organizations can hold in the realization of semantically qualified relationships in LOD creation.

Paola Castellucci (Sapienza University of Roma) presented the paper "Virtual or Virtuous Ants? Towards an Ethic for the Access", discussing ACO (Ant Colonies Optimization), a collaborative information retrieval technique belonging to the wider area of Artificial Intelligence (AI). ACO aims at improving search engines' performances by exploiting users' behavior. Bookmarks, comments, and tagging are processed in an algorithm which makes the search engine work in order to recommend the "best way" to users with similar information needs. The metaphor of ant colonies foraging for food was used by the author for stimulate further "alarming" questions: the optimization of information seeking could reveal a controlling attitude, urging everybody to seek for the same target, minimizing individual choice, freedom, and awareness. Castellucci wondered: "could ‘ants' be easily exploited by single-minded ideological thinking or by a market-oriented society?" That was what Norbert Wiener predicted in far-off 1950…

The presentation "Linked Data in European Libraries Projects" was given by Mauro Guerrini and Carlotta Vivacqua (University of Firenze). They talked about projects in four countries: France—data.bnf.fr; Great Britain—the bnb.data.bl.uk ; Germany—Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (DNB); and Spain—the datos.bne.es. Then they analyzed the French project, conducted by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), that uses LOD to publish and make better use of its data on the Web: BnF library catalogs and the data of the Gallica digital library. In conclusion, the authors offered some reflections: the FRBR model is strongly recognized in all projects; they push the limits of existing data, transforming them into linked data; the same philosophy is in all projects; huge financial investments are needed; the language of LOD is often accomplished in concert with RDA (Resource Description and Access) and BIBFRAME (the Bibliographic Framework Initiative initiated by the Library of Congress).

The paper by Klaus Kempf (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) was entitled "Beyond the Catalog: The Practice of Standardized Metadating and Linked Open Data in the World of the German Language." Kempf began by presenting an essential "preinvestment" for LOD: the complete and consequent production of standardized metadata and the usage of the relevant authority files by all the institutions of memory. In Germany, he continued, the standardized output of metadata and the development of the authority files is much more advanced in the library world than in the areas of archives and museums. The German authority file—Integrated Authority File (Gemeinsame Normdatendatei)—is growing as a result of long standing cooperation between the DNB (German National Library), the six regional/interregional library networks, and the Austrian Library Network (ÖVB). Relevant authority files are increasingly applicable in interdisciplinary projects outside the library world. As one future objective, Kempf mentioned the visualization of search results by various aspects.

Second session: The universe of cultural resources: Between eurekas and concrete actions

The second Session, coordinated by Andrea Marchitelli (CINECA), was organized through a call for proposals, and was structured as a series of five-minute "lightning talks." Thus, the CILW Group wanted to give to any scholar/student/professional the opportunity to disseminate ideas and experiences on the Conference topics.

Ricardo Eito Brun (University Carlos III of Madrid) presented some "Criteria for the Selection of a Semantic Repository for Managing SKOS Data." He spoke about the adaptation of an existing knowledge representation system to Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS), converting and tagging data, but stressing that institutions need to offer the capability for exploring and using these systems in different ways, e.g., direct search by end-users. To do that, entities need to select and deploy software tools for storing, managing, and querying SKOS tools using the SPARQL standard (the standardized query language for RDF [Resource Description Framework] specifications). The complexity of the SPARQL language makes necessary to develop ways to make querying easier for end-users. As an example, he showed a project that assessed two semantic repository tools—GraphDB and Virtuoso—in order to manage SKOS-based vocabularies and design two alternative query interfaces to help users interact with SKOS tools when doing complex queries.

Angela Bellia (University of Bologna) spoke about "Communication Patterns for Archaeological Research Data: The Case of the Getty Vocabularies as Linked Open Data." She presented a video showing the methods and tools developed within the Getty vocabularies project, in order to improve the discovery and interpretation of cultural heritage through the application of LOD technology for digital archives bringing greater visibility to the rich and diverse network of connections. For this reason, the project was presented as a case study in LOD creation practices for libraries, archives, and museums, referencing the field of archaeology.

Federico Morando spoke on behalf of the CoBiS (Coordinamento delle biblioteche speciali e specialistiche dell'area metropolitana torinese) study group about the report "Coordination of the Special and Specialized Libraries of Turin: Linked Open Data Project." This LOD project of the CoBiS was presented as a pilot to endow the Coordinamento with an infrastructure to publish LOD, using open source technologies, such as RML (Report Markup Language), the mapping language that uses linked data to describe the transformation of XML (eXtensible Markup Language), JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), or tabular data into RDF. The first challenge for the project was the reconciliation of several heterogeneous data sources, produced by three different pieces of software: Erasmo, SBNWeb and BIBLIOWin. The kind of linked data is diverse: cataloging data, multimedia content, and archive data managed using xDams. Interlinking this data with external data sources will involve Wikidata, VIAF (the Virtual International Authority File), and the Nuovo soggettario (subject indexing) of the National Library of Florence.

Silvia Tichetti spoke on behalf of the authority files working group from CEI (Conferenza Episcopale Italiana), and presented the talk "United They Stand, Coherently: Reflections on an AF-based Cross Domain Approach in Documenting the Italian Catholic Church Cultural Heritage." The speaker presented BeWeb, the portal that makes it possible to explore the cultural heritage of the Italian Dioceses through cross domain research, thematic in-depth examinations, and the constant authority work on entities, in various ways related to the goods and the other information contents of the portal. The main challenge is to identify the access points to browse across databases, and to strengthen connections between objects making them not only capable of interworking but also of illustrating and introducing themselves mutually, in a synoptic and integrated way.

Marilena Daquino (University of Bologna) illustrated the "The Zeri Photo Archive in Linked Open Data." The Zeri Photo Archive was presented as one of the first main actors in the domain of photographs of artworks that transformed its heritage in linked open data. In the first phase of the Zeri & LODE (linked open data enhancer) project, a subset of 30,000 catalog entries for photographs has been transformed into RDF, according to relevant ontologies like CIDOC-CRM and SPAR (Semantic Publishing and Referencing) Ontologies. A couple of ad hoc ontologies, OA Entry Ontology and F Entry Ontology, have been realized to represent the heterogeneous scenario provided by the two Italian metadata content standards OA Entry and F Entry. The next step has been the publication of the first comprehensive RDF dataset, according to a suite of integrated ontologies.

Susana Medina (University of Porto) presented the talk "U. Porto Digital Museum: Towards Convergence in University's Heritage Resources Management." She showed the University of Porto Digital Museum as a program to aggregate existing digital collections (archives, libraries, and museums) by developing and maintaining an information system with a single online discovery point. The project also contemplates the development of a dynamic and scalable technological platform—the OpenLab—which will enable the academic community and external players to participate in the process of co-creation and (re)using. It also ensures interoperability between different technological platforms and a long term digital preservation repository, using standards such as CIDOC-CRM for metadata and SPECTRUM 4.0 for museum procedures, and an interdisciplinary theoretical approach which joins Museology, Information Science, and information systems.

Agnese Galeffi (Vatican Library School) spoke on behalf of the group elaborating "Coming AUTH: A Project for Authority Data Enrichment and Deduplication in SBN." The project will have both a professional procedure and a social one. Thanks to the cooperation between ICCU (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico) and AIB Lazio, the first one involves young professionals to enrich data. The second one will take advantage of services like Wikimedia Mix'n'match, and will be open to anyone who registers and then tries to match the names of different entities. In doing so, the working group will be able not only to clean and enrich the authority data, but also to improve the visibility of the SBN (National Library Service) catalog and the participation of users to its improvement.

Third session: Linked Open Data and Semantic Web: Existing projects and experiences of convergence

In the third Session, chaired by Simonetta Buttò (Central Institute for the Union Catalogue of Italian Libraries – ICCU), advanced projects and experiences were presented by other prominent invited speakers, exemplifying potential applications of LOD and Semantic Web.

In her presentation, "Because the Web of Data Doesn't Organize Itself: OCLC Research's Contributions to Linked Data in the Library Community," Titia van der Werf (OCLC Research, Leiden) gave a brief update of what OCLC Research is doing in the linked data space, discussing some of the experiments which OCLC data scientists are carrying out: mining WorldCat and liberating entities from MARC data; trying out the challenges of publishing, consuming, and visualizing linked data resources; extending the scope of authority control and leveraging the wealth of multi-lingual bibliographic structures. She also shared the results of an international survey which her colleague Karen Smith-Yoshimura carried out among linked data implementers in the library community and published as "Analysis of International Linked Data Survey for Implementers."

Laura Crociani and Elisabetta Viti (National Central Library of Firenze – BNCF) spoke about "Nuovo Soggettario and Italian WebDewey: Mapping and Integration Strategies," explaining BNCF's efforts to develop semantic indexing tools usable in libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions. About this, the interoperability between Nuovo soggettario and other knowledge organization systems, accessible for free on the Web, has increased significantly. One of the most interesting experiences has been the mapping between Nuovo soggettario Thesaurus's concepts/terms and Dewey Decimal Classification system's concepts/notations (in WebDewey Italian version) established and maintained by the BNCF. Thanks to collaboration with AIB, the interaction between the two tools is visible not only in the record of Nuovo soggettario terms but also in WebDewey (IT) notations in which the Nuovo soggettario verbal equivalents are paired with Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH).

Loredana Cerrone and Patrizia De Martino (University of Sannio and University of Salerno) presented "Academic Libraries: Linked Open Data and Web Integration with SHARE Catalogue." SHARE Catalogue is part of a wide project named SHARE (Scholarly Heritage and Access to Research) aimed at promoting local cooperation and sharing library and documental services between seven universities. In the SHARE Catalogue, all the data from the bibliographic catalogs of the accredited library systems are converted to LOD according to RDF. Through a single navigation interface, organized according to FRBR, the final user can easily utilize a new tool, enriched by the connection with external projects, mainly related to online authority files and encyclopedias, such as VIAF, the LC Name Authority File, ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier), Wikipedia, or Wikidata.

The argument discussed by Giovanni Michetti (Sapienza University of Roma) was "Linked Data in the Archival Domain: Dangers and Opportunities," and showed "two facets" of linked data in the archival domain. The latter is easy to recognize: enhanced usability, better searchability, increased adaptability, etc. About the first he warned: when information is fragmented into tiny pieces, the risk is that "we cannot see the forest for the trees." Context may vanish in the background in the multiplicity of relationships. Therefore, it is key to balance granularity against context when implementing LOD in the archival domain. As a consequence, Michetti argued, the LIS community should further investigate the sort of paradox raised by the linked data model. On one hand, it provides a foundation for the interoperability and convergence of different GLAM communities; on the other hand, each community has a fundamental role in providing information with an adequate context, which pushes for specialization.

Enzo Borsellino (Roma Tre University) presented his opinions about "Museums and MAB after Franceschini ‘Reforms'." The contribution took into account the recent Italian legislative decrees on the reorganization of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage. In particular, Borsellino focused on the decision of the autonomy of museums, from so many years invoked, and progress realized for only 20+10 monumental complexes and museums. From the distinction between "state" and "national" museum, to the absence of an organic design among museums, archives, and libraries, the "reform" in action seems to concentrate more on how to increase the visitors in the "super museums" and to cut the staff, in a short-sighted vision to review spending. On the contrary, it would be better to really invest in the expansion of the action of guardianship on the whole Italian territory and in the museums with staff suitable to the real necessities, to establish an organic relationship with school and university and other cultural institutions.

Luca Martinelli (Wikimedia Italia) presented a paper entitled "Wikidata: Linked, Open, Structured Data—The Wikimedia Way," reporting on the main goal of Wikidata to centralize access to, and manage structured data on, every subject covered by Wikipedia and its sister projects. Data are organized into "statements"—property-value pairs—with optional qualifiers and with their original sources (such as books, reviews, and authority databases). He stressed that Wikidata is run by a community of volunteer editors, who are eager to collaborate with GLAM, and pointed out some interesting collaboration that have already been ongoing for years with many institutions, such as BNCF, ICCU, New York Museum of Modern Art, Tate Gallery, Rijksmuseum, and the Human Genome Project.


Briefly, we can make some comments on the overall feel of the AIB-CILW 2016 Conference. It seems that no revamping or rediscovery of knowledge resources is really necessary. Optimistically, we can state that it is necessary just for a "transfer" of those resources. Knowledge resources are alive and well for all those who have interest in or are passionate about them. It is, then, only for the various GLAM/LAMMS bodies to ensure these resources have a true presence in the new Web of data.

It is, in short, to bring out data from the various "silos" of the traditional Web—in which they are located in large amounts, but not always with high quality—and present them inside the new Web in the form of LOD and available to any cultural community, and above all promoting them for the wider society that presently may remain excluded. The world of libraries appears to have been the first to take the initiative, valid for all actors in the cultural universe, with recent programs as BIBFRAME and FRBR-LRM (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records-Library Reference Model).

This is an urgent time for all experts of the GLAM or LAMMS to take stock and share knowledge. The goal of the Conference, indeed, has been to create a new opportunity for discussion and organization, to outline a shared development project and practice, for the benefit of the true cultural needs of the people… and I mean all the people, to which we have a great responsibility. In a nutshell—and the issue is also becoming old—we need to hurry to organize and conclude conferences like this to discuss what we still have to discuss and take action. Much remains to be discussed on a purely theoretical level, but the theory is often strengthened and reaches its "provisional certainties" by observing feasible practice.

Further information about the AIB/CILW conference can be found at: http://www.aib.it/attivita/congressi/c2016/giornata-studi-aib-cilw-2016/aib-cilw-2016-conference/

ALCTS/LITA develops Principles for Evaluating Metadata Standards

In August 2016, the ALCTS/LITA (Association for Library Collections & Technical Services/Library Information Technology Association) Metadata Standards Committee released the Principles for Evaluating Metadata Standards for use by the library, archives, and museum (LAM) community. The principles are intended to inform and support the development, maintenance, selection, and assessment of metadata standards. They may be applied to metadata structures (field lists, property definitions, etc.) and with content standards, controlled vocabularies, and standards intended for both system- and machine-created metadata.

The nine principles listed below are intended to help guide the refinement of current metadata standards, and the creation of new metadata structures and vocabularies. The principles are aspirational and may not be fully implementable as a pragmatic concern for all standards.

  1. Metadata standards should be part of a shared data network.
  2. Metadata standards should be open and reusable.
  3. Metadata standards and creation guidelines should benefit user communities.
  4. Metadata standards should support creative applications.
  5. Metadata standards should have an active maintenance and governance community.
  6. Metadata standards should be extensible, embeddable, and interoperable
  7. Metadata standards should follow the rules of "graceful degradation" and "progressive enhancement."
  8. Metadata standards should be documented.
  9. Metadata standards should be inclusive and transparent about historical and cultural biases.

For more information about the Principles for Evaluating Metadata Standards, visit: http://metaware.buzz/2016/08/04/principles-for-evaluating-metadata-standards/

RISM releases Muscat cataloging program

Muscat, the central cataloging program for musical sources (manuscripts, printed music, libretti, and treatises) available to RISM (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales) contributors, was released on November 14, 2016. Muscat includes sources from the various RISM series A/I, A/II, and B/I, which are in one database for the first time after having previously been managed in separate places. At the time of its release, the new Muscat program contains in total 1,076,244 musical sources, 108,563 authority records for personal names, 73,527 institutions, and 32,983 records for secondary literature.

Muscat is a multilingual, open source, web-based program. It uses MARC 21 and thus has an internationally widespread and standardized data model at its core. Additional features include:

  • built-in version control to identify changes;
  • ability to leave comments for sources and authority files;
  • intuitive management of digital objects;
  • ability to create folders to organize your work;
  • link to VIAF to import personal name authority files;
  • custom-built module to display incipits;
  • expanded ability to add guidelines in different languages; and
  • integrated full online catalog search.

The launch of Muscat is an opportunity for people—whether at universities, libraries, archives, or interested individuals—to directly contribute to RISM. If your library has holdings in RISM that need to be updated, if you are working on sources related to a specific composer, if you are in a position to add sources to RISM, email RISM at: contact@rism.info.

New version of the Slavic Cataloging Manual released

The Slavic and East European Section of ACRL is pleased to announce the launch of a new and fully revised version of the Slavic Cataloging Manual, available online at: https://sites.google.com/site/seesscm/

The Slavic Cataloging Manual (SCM), the main cataloging tool for Slavic catalogers, traces its origins to a paper-based manual put together in 1992 by James Weinheimer, at that time a Slavic cataloger at Princeton University. In 1994, the manual was mounted on the Princeton University website. In 2001, administration of the manual was transferred to the Slavic and East European Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL SEES), which has maintained it ever since. Until recently, the SCM was hosted at Indiana University.

The revision of the Manual was an international collaborative effort of the Slavic Cataloging Manual Task Force, formed by the Automated Bibliographic Control Committee of ACRL SEES in 2015, chaired by Larisa Walsh (University of Chicago). The task force included 14 catalogers from leading research libraries in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom as well as 15 consultants from different countries.

The new Manual is now revised according to Resource Description and Access (RDA), and includes over 100 chapters pertinent to the cataloging of materials in Slavic languages as well as some other East European and Eurasian languages used in former Soviet bloc countries. Examples of some of the new chapters include transliteration of Church Slavic and Glagolitic, subject headings for transnational areas of Eastern Europe, and handling of multiple statements of responsibility.

ISMN (International Standard Music Number) Report 2016
Report submitted by Hartmut Walravens, ISMN Chairman

Annual General Meetings

Last year's Annual General Meeting (AGM) was perfectly organized by the Indonesian ISMN agency which is part of the National Library of Indonesia. The venue was the island of Bali. The meeting was once again aligned with that of the International ISBN Agency. It was a most enjoyable and efficient meeting, and the participants were treated with overwhelming hospitality and gained insights in the Indonesian music situation.

This 2016 AGM in Vienna, Austria, was again aligned with the ISBN Panel meeting. This was of mutual benefit, saving organizational efforts and also travel costs. The ISMN Meeting was hosted by the German Music Publishers Association (Deutscher Musikverlegerverband) which is responsible for ISMN in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and the participants enjoyed its splendid hospitality. The event took place in the celebrated Musikvereinshaus known for its outstanding concert halls, the Great Hall (Golden Hall) and the Bach Hall.

It was announced that the 2017 AGM would take place on Wednesday, September 13th in Ottawa, Canada, by kind invitation of the Canadian ISBN and ISMN agencies. Canada was one of the early supporters of ISMN; it was the venue of the crucial ISO (International Organization for Standardization) meeting which led to the creation of the ISMN standard: two proposals were competing, a "dumb number" versus a "bibliographic" number. A positive result was reached when Arnold Broido, then president of the International Music Publishers Association agreed to the less elegant solution, the "dumb" number which was more easily processed by computer systems.


Currently there are 58 member agencies, the latest members are PYI Zone in Myanmar and the National Library of Montenegro. Both also run the local ISBN agencies. Interest in ISMN membership has recently been shown by Albania, Algeria, Botswana, Rwanda, South Pacific, and Uganda. The Spanish ISMN agency intends to hand over its tasks to another institution. Negotiations are underway. China seems to be making the last preparations for joining the ISMN system. Since the Netherlands quit their membership a year ago, due to heavy budget cuts in the country, Donemus is still functioning as an agent but is no longer a member. So far, there is no replacement.

The International Agency is losing a major supporter as the Berlin State Library is giving up its membership owing to budget cuts. About ten years ago, the International ISMN Agency had to leave the premises of the State Library owing to major construction work. The State Library had been kind enough to support the Agency with EUR 5000 per year as a member.

ISMN Standard revision

The ballot regarding the systematic revision of the ISMN Standard left the issue open, with no majority for either action. The International ISMN Agency confirmed that there was no urgent need for a revision. In addition, the current ISMN standard follows the latest ISO pattern for standards and contracts. Small adjustments are being made in the ISMN Users' Manual which is available online. There will be an official resolution at the TC46 SC9 meeting in Pretoria 2017. In a few years, the standard will automatically come up for revision.


The ISMN newsletters and the ISMN Users' Manual , 5th revised edition (2016) are available on the International ISMN Agency website, http://www.ismn-international.org/international.html.

Advantages of the ISMN in small countries

It is sometimes questioned whether the ISMN is really useful to countries with only a small music production. There are indeed advantages.

  • Complete bibliographical control over published material. It is necessary to list and preserve the national production of publications—usually the responsibility of national libraries which issue national bibliographies. If notated music is left out a possibly small but probably significant part of the publications would be neglected and not be preserved. Bibliographic resolution is usually managed by international standard numbers, and this is done by ISMN in the case of music.
  • Making music publications internationally more visible. While music publications from large publishers and organizations are easy to find, those from small music countries would not be included in databases and bibliographic catalogs without the ISMN to provide easy record management. If these are not to be found in such catalogs, the publications are considered non-existent or not available.
  • Facilitating identification, especially in less common languages. ISMN allows easy identification and overcomes the obstacles of foreign languages and scripts and can be read and used by anybody.
  • Allowing inclusion of titles in music catalogs and music in print publications. As the ISMN is designed for notated music it filters out music items from the huge amount of other publications and makes searches fast and manageable.
  • Facilitating ordering and distribution, especially internationally. International standard numbers are the identifiers used by the trade for ordering and distribution. Items without these numbers cannot be processed automatically and are neglected.


J. McRee (Mac) Elrod (1932–2016)
Submitted by Richard Violette, Chief Cataloguer, Special Libraries Cataloguing, Inc.

Mac Elrod, President of Special Libraries Cataloguing, Inc. (SLC), died peacefully and painlessly on June 16, with his loved ones at his side.

Born in Gainesville, Georgia, on March 23, 1932, Mac was bitten by the cataloging bug early. Shortly after he married, he reorganized his wife's spice rack alphabetically, much to her consternation. Officially, however, his career as a librarian began in South Korea, at Yonsei University in Seoul, where he organized the library's collection and introduced modern cataloging techniques. Two of his six children were born there, and in later life he would startle young Koreans by speaking to them in their own language—no doubt with a Southern drawl.

When Mac returned to the United States in 1960, he obtained a master's degree in Library Science from Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt University), where he subsequently taught. Stints as librarian at Central Methodist University and as head cataloger at Ohio Wesleyan University followed. In 1967, he became Head of Cataloguing at the University of British Columbia. While there, he spotted librarians copying information from the card catalog for libraries of local firms. He started photocopying unit cards to distribute for this purpose, which eventually led to his founding SLC in 1979, after working briefly as librarian of the Vancouver School of Theology.

Although he officially retired from cataloging in 1998, he continued on as president of SLC, and increased his presence on AUTOCAT, as well as several other email lists, where he became almost an oracular figure, if only by the sheer volume of his postings and the vehemence with which he expressed his opinions. He was, as we now say, the "brand" of our company. With Mac's name on the masthead, who needed marketing?

In March, Mac was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia. He spent the last three months of his life under palliative care at his beloved home, Ty Mynydd, outside of Victoria, B.C. Too weak and visually impaired to continue in his email correspondence or read, he listened to music most of the day, and particularly enjoyed being read to. Until the night before his passing, we were enjoying Miranda James's No Cats Allowed, whose hero is a cataloger in an academic library in Mississippi. He was moved by the dozens of messages of praise and appreciation from catalogers all over the world.

He is survived by his wife, Norma; companion Michael Rees; son Matthew; daughters Lona, Cara, Christine, and Laura; eight grandchildren; one great-grandchild and many loving friends and loyal colleagues.



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