Music Cataloging Institute: A blog post by Celia Gavett

Editors note: This post was written by Celia shortly after the cataloging institute in June. We are sorry for the delay in posting.


June 12th-16th I had the great fortune to attend the Music Cataloging Institute hosted at Willis Library on the University of North Texas’s Denton campus. I’ll cut to the chase – if you have any interest at all in cataloging music materials (or other special formats, for that matter), mark your calendars for next June 2018, and go!

The week was a treasure trove of informative seminars, demonstrations, and hands-on practice exercises. Jean Harden, Coordinator of Music Technical Services and the head instructor of the Institute, is a consummate teacher and has a knack for creating an atmosphere in which all questions are welcome. All students’ knowledge and experiences, whether beginner or expert, are greeted as interesting and pertinent to everyone else’s learning too. As if one talented instructor weren’t enough, Janelle West, Music Catalog Librarian, and Ralph Hartsock, Senior Music Catalog Librarian, also gave excellent special lectures and personalized assistance as the course progressed.

Eleven students attended the 2017 Music Cataloging Institute, and we represented rich and varied backgrounds: from current library school students like myself, to catalogers and other professionals already working in libraries or information services, to library directors looking to brush up on cataloging skills due to personal interest or evolving job duties.

Our first three days were primarily occupied with lectures, class discussions, and demonstrations, supplemented by group and individual exercises to apply what we were learning. Jean took us all the way from a refresher on conceptual structures like those spelled out by FRBR, to getting acclimated to the RDA Toolkit, to navigating print and online resources when constructing access points. For the final two days, we were turned loose with all our newly acquired knowledge to create original MARC records for whichever music-related items we wished. Among the items I cataloged were a piano vocal score (a natural fit for my background in classical singing and piano), and a couple audio CDs. Nothing could substitute for this concentrated practice time spent hunting up all the contributing guidelines from RDA, MLA Best Practices Documents, LC Authorities, and LC Classification Web, and neatly tying it all up within the correct MARC fields, indicators, and subfields!

Beyond taking my cataloging skills to the next level, the Music Cataloging Institute also gave me the chance to meet colleagues from all around the country, and to catch a glimpse of a renowned academic music library’s efficient, elegant operations. I would encourage all MLStEP readers to consider attending if your schedule allows in future years!

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