Starting the year off – Instruction

This week marked the first week of class at IU, and the first official week of my Instruction internship with Misti Shaw at the Cook Music Library at IU Bloomington. Since IU’s music history instructors need their students to know how to use the libraries on campus as soon as possible, many want to have an instruction session with the music librarian within the first few weeks of class. While this is understandable, and certainly commendable, it made for a crazy first week! The first class that wanted instruction was MUS-M 401 History and Literature of Music I. The many sections of M 401 were divided among myself, Misti, and several other students and librarians, in order to successfully instruct all of the students. I taught three classes, pretty much back to back on Thursday morning. We had several preparation sessions during the week leading up to this, including a mock teaching session a couple of days before. I was very grateful to be able to try out some of my wording and explanations before heading off to class! Each class was 50 minutes long, and included time for discussion and practice activities on a music encyclopedia, IUCAT, a journal database and citation formatting. The classes all went very well. I felt like I successfully explained the different topics at an appropriate level of understanding for the students. They even laughed at some of my jokes which made me feel like a super cool, hip librarian! The one thing that I struggled with was explaining citations to them. I was surprised at how little they knew about Chicago Style citation, and had to backtrack my explaining a couple of times to keep them with me. Even then, I think that several students left class still confused about the topic. I am hoping that with follow-up, I will be able to help them eventually understand these concepts this semester. After class, they were all assigned a take home assignment that I will grade and send back. Throughout the semester, they are encouraged to meet with me one-on-one to discuss any research struggles they may be experiencing. I am really looking forward to these chances to get to know the students individually, and teach them more about libraries and music research.
On Monday, I am teaching an instruction session with Misti Shaw to graduate students, and I am looking forward to that challenge as well. The material is slightly more advanced and specific than the 401 class, which has made preparation a fun challenge.
Overall, it was a hectic week of preparation and execution, but I am pleased with how the internship is going so far.

Cataloging: Week 14

As my cataloging internship ends, I would like to take a moment to reflect on all that I have learned in the past semester. I truly had no idea that I would learn so much in this internship! Starting with all of the readings laid a great foundation of knowledge for the semester. I especially enjoyed being able to read the entirety of Jean Harden’s Music Description and Access: Solving the Puzzle of Cataloging. Her history of music cataloging was very informative; it is helpful as I look at records and see bits of AACR and AACR2 to know where they come from and when they appeared in the history of this field. I also really appreciated how she explained the different types of formats that one commonly sees as a music cataloger. That has always been something that I have felt unfamiliar with, and now I have a good knowledge base. I worked on cataloging my frontlog CD’s for most of the internship, and working through them bit by bit was very informative as well. It was nice to switch between reading and cataloging on a daily basis. This also gave me a chance to put what I was learning into practice. My favorite part of the semester was attending MOUG and MLA. It was great to be in a room full of others who were passionate about music cataloging, and who want to make sure they are doing it as well as possible. Lately I have been working on the Library of Congress’ NACO training modules and applying what I learn to the authority records that I have been making. I am excited to continue to learn more about authority work, and feel that this has been a very solid start.

Overall, I think that I have reached all of the goals that I set out for myself in this internship. I have filled in many knowledge gaps, and I think that I am slowly becoming better at speaking knowledgeable about cataloging. As always, I wish I had time to practice on more records. I learned so much from the records that I made, and I am sure that the more I do it the more I will learn.

Cataloging: Week 12 and 13

One special project that I get to work on in my internship is straightening out the records for two series of CPE Bach Keyboard music that we have at the Cook Music Library. One series is CPE Bach keyboard concertos, and the other is his keyboard music. For some reason, the series records listed in the bibliographic records have been confused in IUCAT, and some volumes of one series list the other series as an access point. There are also problems with the format of the 245 fields, and there is not much uniformity across each series. To make matters worse, MDPI has digitized some of the volumes, but not all of them. This makes creating a series-level record a bit tricky. Right now, the keyboard music series has both a series-level record and individual volume records in IUCAT. While it is understandable why a librarian would create both, the records are not linked together, so it is hard to search for a volume, come across the series record, and get to the volume from there. My job as the intern is to assess the problem, and make recommendations to Michelle about what is broken and how to fix it.

Cataloging: Week 11 and 12

For the past week or so, I have been working my way through the Library of Congress’ NACO Training Modules. This is typically an in-person or online class that catalogers take when they want the certification to contribute authority work to OCLC, but I am “taking” them now to learn about authorities. The best part of this is that the information is very thorough. There are eight modules: NACO Foundations, Describing Persons, Describing Families, Describing Corporate Bodies (useful for music for describing orchestras and other ensembles), Describing Place, Describing Works and Expressions, Describing Series, Changes to NARs, and NACO Administration. Each module is hundreds of slides long and comes with exercises for practice. Going through these modules has given me far greater confidence in authority work. Since the modules go so far into depth, a typical authority record looks simple in comparison. I have especially appreciated Module 2: Describing Persons, and the one I am going through now, Module 6a: Describing Series. Series are something that I have always halfway understood, but now I am completely learning what they are and how to make authority records for them. I have been able to put all of this learning into practice by making several different kinds of authority records in OCLC, including name and name-title. When I finish the Series Modules, I will get started making some of those records as well.

Cataloging: Week 10

This week I mostly worked with creating records in OCLC from start to finish. In the past, I have been creating my records in Excel, with one row for every different subfield in the record. Now that that is complete for my first set of records, I have gone through and inputted that data into OCLC record templates. This has come with several challenges, the biggest of which is punctuation. In the subfield-by-subfield records that I was previously creating, I did not have to deal with punctuation, because every subfield was in its own cell in Excel. Now, subfields are combined in to one row, and I have to know what punctuation goes in between so that the computer can read the file correctly and transfer the data from the database to the user in a readable manner. There are some functions on OCLC that can self-check the punctuation, but not enough to make it completely automated. Now that this set of records is in OCLC Save Files, I can start working on new records which is a new challenge for me. It will be nice to go through a full CD at a time, instead of going through 9 CD’s, but field-by-field. I am at the part of the internship where it is starting to feel more like real cataloging that practice.

Cataloging: Week 8

This past week I got to experience an interesting example of professional development with emerging technology. It turns out that OLAC (Online Audiovisual Catalogers) and MOUG (Music OCLC Users Group) do monthly TwitterChats on various topics of interest to the two groups. This month, they were discussing different ILS interfaces, and the pluses and minuses of each. I was able to take part in the conversation, and watch other experts in the field explore this topic. It was very interesting to see Twitter as the preferred space for this sort of engagement, and it definitely had pluses and minuses of it’s own. For one, it was a space where people already share their thoughts, and where these two organizations were already present. It is a method that is open-source and accessible to anyone with a computer or a phone. The mobile version is extremely friendly and easy to use. On the other hand, Twitter wasn’t really built to handle group chats like this, so some adjustments had to be made to make it work. Everyone who commented had to use a common hashtag, and if you forgot, your comment wasn’t included the right way.All in all, I think that it is good for these groups to be trying out new technologies and ways to access each other from a distance. I think that with more planning and organization in future implementations, this will be a very easy and neat way to have virtual talks.

Cataloging: Week 7

This week I traveled to St. Louis, MO to attend the Music Librarian Association conference. As a part of this, I attended MOUG (Music OCLC Users Group), which is mostly a music cataloger’s conference. It lasted a day and a half, and I learned so much about cataloging and got to meet a bunch of really great people in the field. One of the most exciting lectures that I heard was on updates to the new RDA (RDA 2.0). I had heard about this in classes a little bit at IU, so it was really neat to get to hear what it was going to look like straight from the sources. It seems like there will be a lot of changes, especially in the interface and how the user interacts with the software. I think that this will be really helpful for someone like me who is still pretty new to RDA. The way that the Toolkit is laid out is very un-intuitive, and it looks like the new RDA will be laid out in a more intuitive way. Although this may be frustrating for those that know the old toolkit well, for me it was good news!

I also got to hear lectures on different projects that catalogers are working on in their libraries, such as extensions to OCLC that make life easier for music catalogers, and new way to shelf list materials. While the rest of the conference certainly was enjoyable, I enjoyed these first days at MOUG the best!

Week 6

This week I continued on with cataloging the sounds recording that I started at the beginning of the semester. I worked on adding 382 to records, which is medium of performance. This is something that I have done a bit in the past, so it is not a completely new experience for me. I read up on the field by reading MLA’s Best Practices for lcmpt and lcgft. A lot of this really helped me to make the most appropriate cataloging decisions when filling out this field in my records.

Most of it is pretty straightforward, there are a lot of different subfields that one can use to convey the instrumentation to the reader. As I continue on these records, I am updating them on OCLC as well. The end goal is that I will have records on OCLC that are publishable. 

Cataloging: Week 5

This week I was focusing on Subject Headings and Genre/Form terms in my cataloging. I read several sources about this particular matter within the record, including MLA Best Practices form lcft and lcmpt. Here are some things I learned:


Rule of three: apply up to three subject headings in each of the following categories:

  1. Form of composition
  2. Medium of performance
  3. Other facets (EX: Christmas music)

Broad headings – if item includes works for various forms, assign broad heading. Level of specificity – don’t assign redundant SH’s. Get as specific as possible.


I then applied these new principles to the materials that I have been working on up until this point in the semester. It is difficult for me to determine what all needs to be included in the subject headings. There are many different levels of description that are happening in these fields, and they often overlap with the genre/form terms. Fortunately, I was able to add a lot of these successfully to my record, and them go over with my instructor where I did things differently from what she would have done.

Cataloging: Week 3 and 4

The past couple of weeks I spent time learning about describing carriers and more about notes. This mostly takes up the 3xx and 500 fields in MARC. I read about the fields from a conceptual point of view and tested out my skills on nine different CD’s from the music library’s frontlog. I found out about several different sources for cataloging sound recordings that helps greatly with the carrier description fields, and I was successfully able to navigate through the carrier description describing media and carrier types, as well as sound characteristics. Within the Music Librarian Asssociation, there is a CMC, Cataloging and Metadata Committee. They provide all sort of resources that are helpful for these sort of cataloging situations. Knowing where these sources are, how to find them, and the fact that they actually exist is a big part of being a successful cataloger.

For the Notes fields, I spent time looking through Notes for Music Catalogers by Ralph Hartsock for various examples of what Notes can look like, and what sorts of things are referred to. I discovered that there are many different notes that one might put into a record, but that a lot of them are very standard and repeatable, so the format is predetermined in sources such as the Hartsock.

Cataloging: Week 2

The second week of my cataloging internship has been full of learning new things. This week I started cataloging 9 different frontlog CD’s, and filling out a spreadsheet that goes through how each MARC field relates to the RDA description. I got through the 2XX’s, as well as some 500’s. These cover title statement, publication and copyright dates, as well as any notes that may need to be added to the record. Along with this has been a lot of RDA Toolkit reading, which is better this time around that what I have experienced in the past. We had to read some of RDA for the Cataloging course that I took last spring, and without direct application is is lofty and dense to parse through. However, directly applying it to the metadata that I was pulling off of the CD’s made it much more useful to read. I also finished up some of the readings that I didn’t get through during the first week, including the beginning of Maxwell’s Handbook for RDA. Most of what I have read so far is history and background on cataloging, which I can already see directly applying to what I am working on in the internship. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next in creating these records.