Yesterday, I posted:

<Date:    Tue, 16 Nov 2004 13:42:02 -0500
<From:    digest Peter Hirsch <[log in to unmask]>
<Subject: Looking for form/genre term
<I'm hoping that those of you cataloging archival collections (as opposed
<processing and creating finding aids) may be able to help me out.
<I just posted this over on MLA-L and then realized that maybe it is at
<least as logically targeted at sound archivists as to music librarians.
<Sorry for any duplication.
<- Peter Hirsch
<We have an important collection of papers generated by a record producer.
<There is some correspondence and other papers, but the huge bulk of the
<collection are files devoted to recording sessions and each of these
<contains a log that lists takes, personnel, etc. We try to affix
<appropriate 655 Form/Genre headings to our records and our two primary
<thesauri for these headings are LCSH and the Art and Architecture
<(AAT) form the Getty Foundation. Neither of these have yielded a term that
<seems to fit. AAT has "logbooks" but the usage note seems to indicate that
<these are more likely to be found in a nautical setting than in a
<Since these are the primary reason that we imagine most researchers will
<benefit from consulting these papers, it would be nice to have a term for
<them more focused than something like "business records".
<Any suggestions?
<Thanks in advance,
<Peter Hirsch
And got these suggestions and queries:

<Date:    Tue, 16 Nov 2004 14:34:57 -0500
<From:    Aaron Luis Levinson <[log in to unmask]>
<Subject: Re: Looking for form/genre term
<Track sheets and session notes are if you will the terms of art for the
<documents you are describing.
<Date:    Tue, 16 Nov 2004 15:38:02 -0500
<From:    "Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]>
<Subject: Re: Looking for form/genre term
<Hello, Peter,
<Here is where I fall down on my knowledge of cataloging, etc.,
<But...and you've probably thought this all thorugh...
<A thought occurred to me. This is invaluable metadata about specific
<recordings. Presumably these recordings are in the NYPL collection as well
<(either at Donnell or Lincoln Centre?--it's been years since I've been in
<It would be very useful if somehow a tie could be generated between this
<information and the recording. Then, someone researching the recording
<would find the specific data.
<Also, somehow indexing it by the personnel would be very useful. I'm
<wondering if it would be useful to an external resource like the All Music
<Thanks for listening.
<Audio tape restoration
<Aurora, Ontario
<Date:    Tue, 16 Nov 2004 11:13:08 -1000
<From:    David Lewiston <[log in to unmask]>
<Subject: Re: Looking for form/genre term
<Hello Peter
<You've aroused my curiosity. Are these materials the late Tracey Sterne's
<Nonesuch papers? I know she gave them to the Library in the late '90s.
<Salutations, David Lewiston
<The Lewiston Archive, Recordings & Documentation of the World's

To respond; first, thanks for your feedback. Now (and out of order in
relation to the postings above):

The papers are those of Teo Macero, though I did supervise the processing
of Tracey Sterne's Nonesuch session papers (also including a small amount
of personal papers) a couple of years ago back when I was in charge of the
processing of such materials and not as deeply involved with the cataloging
of the processed collections. Both of these collections have catalog
records and EAD encoded finding aids searchable on the NYPL web site -
<> and I hope you take a
look at them if such matters are of interest to you - there is lots of cool
stuff there.

Aaron's suggestions of terms seem to be right on the mark, though the
constraints of MARC format cataloging, at least as far as they are applied
here, would seem to limit me to terms from authorized thesauri like the
Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) or Getty Foundation's Art and
Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) and the like. That I can't find the means to
adequately catalog sound recording related material is a long-standing
problem going back to the genesis of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules
(AACR) and probably even further. The thrust of these cataloging rules was,
naturally, to deal with published monographs. As long as collections of
music, sound recordings, moving images, archival materials, etc. maintained
their independent catalogs and databases and little of this information was
being made available outside the walls of the institution with the
materials, this did not present a big problem. As things like online union
catalogs (RLIN, OCLC) grew and MARC format made electronic sharing of
records more or less inescapable, different ways have been attempted to
catalog formats other than print, but they have always had to start from
the blank that was established with books in mind. The thesauri (or at
least the codes for them that appear in MARC field 655 sub-field 2) that
cover specialized areas are listed at
<> if you are

Richard's suggestions are well taken and definitely point towards what is
technically possible at this time. Cataloging detail and enhancements of
this sort would probably not be approved in most cataloging departments
simply because of the time it would take away from cataloging the
ever-present and ever-growing backlog that is endemic to all institutions
whose collections are vital, growing entities. Linking to outside,
commercial, sources is something that is understandably controversial at
public and academic institutions and also involves the issue of how you
maintain the integrity of these ever-changing links.

Frankly, almost all of the best and most comprehensive discographically
related work is generally done by individuals who are not constrained by
the limits imposed by an employer and/or existing bibliographic utility.
This is an area that puts my professional, cataloger sphere in considerable
conflict with my personal recording collecting and discographically
obsessed other sphere. No one who has spent several decades of their life
researching and tracking down recordings and simultaneously trying to keep
track of the information relating to the creation the recording, the
performers, the music (or whatever else is recorded) being played on a
track by track basis could possibly be fully satisfied by what results from
currently accepted cataloging practice (IM-less-than-HO).

I have been a member of ARSC for a few years now. Other commitments have
kept me from being actively involved, but this is the primary area of
interest for me and I hope that the organization and this list can have
some positive effect on narrowing the gap between what most of us see as a
need and what is offered by existing, mostly AACR-based, cataloging. I know
I'm not the first one raising this issue and that important work has
already been done to address this; I just hope that the ball can keep on
rolling and hopefully give it a little nudge to speed things up.

Well, I didn't mean to get so long-winded or so didactic.


Peter Hirsch