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  • Music Description and Access: Solving the Puzzle of Cataloging by Jean Harden
  • Casey A. Mullin
Music Description and Access: Solving the Puzzle of Cataloging. By Jean Harden. (Music Library Association Technical Reports Series, v. 34.) Middleton, WI: Music Library Association and A-R Editions, 2018. [xviii, 354 p. ISBN 9780895798480 (paperback), $100.] Illustrations, bibliography, index.

In my review of the fourth edition of Richard P. Smiraglia's Describing Music Materials (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017) in last year's volume of Notes (vol. 75, no. 1 [September 2018]: 118–21), I lamented that a comparative analysis of that and the present work (published just one year later) was beyond the scope of the review. Happily, the opportunity has now arrived to evaluate the present work as yet another robust tool for practitioners of music cataloging. Like Smiraglia, Jean Harden is a cataloging instructor in a postgraduate setting (at the University of North Texas). To this she adds her experience as a music cataloger in her own right (since the early 1990s) and as a supervisor of countless student assistants to whom she has taught the art of music cataloging—many of whom have gone on to professional careers in music librarianship. She also brings to bear expertise gained from her direct involvement in the development of Resource Description and Access (RDA) through service to the Music Library Association and the RDA Steering Committee's Music Working Group.

As Harden notes in the preface, this work is primarily a textbook on music cataloging but can also serve as a ready-reference tool for practicing catalogers. The book divides into two main parts. Part 1, "Setting the Stage," lays out the purposes and underlying concepts of music cataloging and traces the history of cataloging practice (and music cataloging specifically) from the early modern period at the Bodleian Library, through the work of Charles A. Cutter and Seymour Lubetzky, to Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR, now superseded by the Library Reference Model (LRM)) of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and RDA in the present era. In addition, she includes several "historical asides" that treat a specific aspect of music cataloging in the context of the topic (for example, "Title proper" and "Inaccuracies," both on p. 59). This robust historical treatment is not strictly critical to the purpose of the book, but its presence adds a layer of polish. After all, a fully formed music cataloger needs not only to address the question What? (to do) but also Why? (it is done this way).

Part 2, "Practical Cataloging," addresses in turn the various bibliographic entities described in FRBR (and now LRM): manifestation and item (the usually published "things" being cataloged), works and expressions (the intellectual or creative essence of [End Page 309] the content), and persons and corporate bodies (agents associated in some way with the above). Subsequently, access points and relationships are described; these are the structured descriptions of bibliographic entities and their interrelationships, allowing precise retrieval in a library catalog. Along the way, Harden gives detailed guidance on encoding attributes of these entities in the Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC21) formats. Whereas Smiraglia gives full MARC21 bibliographic examples in his appendix without commentary, Harden describes each MARC21 field in detail, employing numerous interstitial examples to illustrate the ornate practices called for by the standard; that said, she does not give full-record examples.

Another welcome component that is lacking in Smiraglia's book is Harden's discussion of the function of authority records (encoded in the MARC21 authority format) in music cataloging. Music catalogers are heavy users of authority records, which describe and disambiguate persons, corporate bodies, and (most especially) musical works and expressions. To wit, Harden addresses authority records in both chapter 6 ("Manifestation, Item, and Carrier in MARC") and chapter 7 ("Works and Expressions"). In fact, much of chapter 7 presumes that the MARC21 authority format will be used to record information about these entities; the use of textual access points (e.g., "Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756–1791. Nozze di Figaro") to identify them in bibliographic records is treated later, in chapter 9. The section in chapter 9 on determining the preferred title for a...


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