- About Connections
- Latest issue
- Previous issues
- Issue 84 2013
- Issue 83 2012
- Issue 82 2012
- Issue 81 2012
- Issue 80 2012
- Issue 79 2011
- Issue 78 2011
- Issue 77 2011
- Issue 76 2011
- Issue 75 2010
- Issue 74 2010
- Issue 73 2010
- Issue 72 2010
- Issue 71 2009
- Issue 70 2009
- Issue 69 2009
- Issue 68 2009
- Issue 67 2008
- Issue 66 2008
- Issue 65 2008
- Issue 64 2008
- Issue 63 2007
- Issue 62 2007
- Issue 61 2007
- Issue 60 2007
- FEATURE ARTICLE
- regular features
- print complete issue
- Issue 59 2006
- Issue 58 2006
- Issue 57 2006
- Issue 56 2006
A music department's approach
Elizabeth Greef describes one school's solution to managing a separate collection within the school.
Music resources can include a massive collection of sheet music, orchestral pieces, CDs, videos and other music items including instruments. Any Head of Music who has searched their collection until 2 am to find a particularly elusive piece of sheet music would welcome a solution to their resource dilemma. Could the school library assist the Music Department to organise and locate these items? What sort of organisational and computer systems might help?
Our school, St Andrew's Cathedral School in Sydney, has a very strong musical reputation and possesses a substantial (previously uncatalogued) music collection housed in its very active Music Department. Two years ago the Music Department approached the school library about adding their items to the library catalogue, using ex-students as cataloguers. Library staff did not see this as a good solution to the problem, due to concerns about the integrity of the catalogue, and so we explored other software possibilities for a music catalogue.
In looking for a useful software alternative for the Music Department, two possible dedicated music catalogues were located. The manager of our library software company was also consulted. They generously agreed to give the school a new copy of an empty database, the same as the one used for the school library resources. A member of the library staff spent a few afternoons with the main music cataloguer - an ex-student of the school, Huw Belling - and together they negotiated a classification structure and authority files for the music catalogue. The librarian also showed Huw how to use the catalogue when the new empty database was installed. It was helpful that Huw was very familiar with both databases and music, and understood the needs of the Music Department.
The primary need of the Music Department was not so much circulation as accurate and speedy location of resources. The music cataloguers have now catalogued and processed several thousand items and are very happy with the result.
Developing a classification structure
For the music catalogue we decided to use an alphanumeric system (V0001, V0002 and so on), rather than the Dewey Decimal Classification, in order to easily locate and distinguish different types of music. The classification structure is comprised of broad categories, dividing up the types of resources:
- O for orchestral music
- C for chamber music
- V for vocal music
- S for solo music
- B for band
- R for reference
- T for teacher resources
- D for DVDs and videos
- M for videos/DVDs/movies
- CD for CDs.
Part of the call number includes the composer's name and a running number for items by that composer. For example:
- S AMEB001 (solo music - AMEBfor violin)
- C BAC 009 (chamber music - Bach, J.S. - Brandenburg Concerto No. 1)
- BEE ARR 002 (vocal music - Beethoven, Ludwig Van - Ode to joy)
- O BRA 005 (orchestral music - Brahms, Johannes - Hungarian dances 5. 6. 7.)
- BUL001 (band music - Bullock, Jack - Twenty-first century band method).
Using subject fields
The library staff attached a sample list from SCIS Subject Headings to provide a consistent range of subject headings. It was also suggested that the music cataloguers consult the Conservatorium Library to ask what subject headings and system they use. To break down orchestral music into searchable groupings, it was suggested that Symphony Orchestra, Intermediate Orchestra and SACS Community Symphonia become local subject headings for the relevant pieces. This required a fairly deep knowledge of the purpose and ability level of the music. The same process was used for breaking down the other main groupings. For this reason, it has worked very well to have former music students as cataloguers.
Identifying location fields
The library staff and Huw decided together on location and sub-location fields that related to where the items were stored in the school or the Cathedral. Most of our chamber music and orchestral music is housed in a compactus. The vocal music is kept in shelves in a room off the compactus area. Older choral sets of music belonging to the Cathedral are stored in an orchestral room in labelled boxes with detailed labels and barcodes on the spine.
Stamping items with a school or Music Department stamp was recommended as well as attaching any required copyright notices at the time of working on the collection to save handling.
Copyright sites recommended for relevant publications were provided:
- for various information sheets on music - http://www.copyright.org.au/page3.htm
- on music and performers, etc - http://www.copyright.org.au/page5.htm
The school library ordered the barcodes on behalf of the Music Department so that they form part of the school run of barcode numbers and there will be no confusion. This also makes merging the catalogues in the future a possibility.
The music cataloguers have found that the best way to store items, particularly sheet music, is in large plastic envelopes with a Velcro seal. The barcodes and printed labels are attached to the envelope and covered with contact. These envelopes are stored like books on their side edge in the compactus or on the shelves, and multiple copies are kept together.
Facing the reality
How the Music has moved on with this is very interesting, although not quite as we first expected. After cataloguing about 600 items on the database, the music cataloguers realised the enormity of the task and decided, in Huw's words, 'to favour quantity over quality'. As a result, an Excel spreadsheet is now used to record all items. Entering in the spreadsheet has become the first phase in the task of establishing the music library. Full cataloguing in the database will be the second phase, when time and finances permit.
In the spreadsheet, fields recorded are:
- Field A - classification (eg S AMEB001)
- Field B- composer
- Field C - title of the piece
- Field D- method of storage (eg 1 box/2 boxes/F for folder)
- Field E - location.
Other fields are used for indicating instrumentation.
The music cataloguers physically process the resources as they are entered in the spreadsheet. They also attach the barcode to the item, in preparation for the second phase when the resources will be entered into the database. Another option would be to give a library technician student on work placement the project of entering the spreadsheet data into the database; however, it would demand someone with considerable skill and musical knowledge. It may also be possible for the database supplier to write a programming patch that would allow the import of all the spreadsheet data into the database.
Issues arising from this project
The initial consultations worked well but, in hindsight, it would have been preferable to have more regular ongoing consultation as the process developed to refine the classification structure. The music cataloguers have outlined their call number procedure in an extensive memorandum. This includes giving each composer a distinctive three letter alphabetical code that is close to their surname, but often not the same. One observation about this further refinement of the classification system is that it would have been preferable to use the first four or even five letters of the composer's surname to achieve clearer distinctions between composers.
One drawback of maintaining a separate collection is the amount of time needed to reshelve items, especially after a busy phase of music engagements. This means that a large number of resources may be sitting in a shelving pile for quite some time as there is no dedicated person to do this task.
Using former music students as cataloguers and using a separate copy of the same database as the school library has worked well. It has allowed the music cataloguers to take advantage of the expertise of the library staff in setting up the music library.
Discovering the benefits
Enumerating the value of the music library, all staff were sent this enthusiastic email by Huw Belling - principal music cataloguer - on 13 August 2005:
'For the literate, and musically literate - exciting news!
Since its inauguration, the Music Department library has now grown to over 2,000 catalogued items of music.
The library has allowed us to quickly find and track music, and has turned up a lot of items we never knew we had. The short and long-term benefits of such a vital organisational structure are already beginning to show. It is an important step towards an integrated library of all the school's information resources. Thank you to all those (especially … the school library) who have helped us get this far.'
One more potential use of the developing music catalogue was considered. Many music students participate in school-organised tours. The possibility of 'loaning' all the many pieces of equipment out to the flight and 'returning' them as they were located was considered. This system of checking did not eventuate, but it is a possibility for future tours.
Other related developments
The school library at St Andrew's also included the English Department's book room books on the library catalogue. In consultation with the English Department and database supplier, we obtained a third copy of the database. The database supplier then separated the library and the English resources, and the English Department now manage their own resources.
Currently under discussion is the possibility of obtaining a fourth copy of the database to use for the school archives. This is being considered by the school Archives Committee. As the amount of information we hold continues to explode, and the pressure to locate it efficiently increases, a more widespread approach to managing information services and knowledge in the school is needed. The skills and expertise of the teacher librarian can be of great service to their schools in facing these pressures.
St Andrew's Cathedral School, Sydney, NSW
In consultation with Huw Belling