note to self and world: music index, ebsco, and harmonie park press

This kind of info tends to slowly disappear, so I’m recording it here.

I wish there were a way to include this kind of information with or attached to a bibliographic record (or statement, in the free-from-the-tyranny-of-records future) as justification/clarification. Cataloger’s metametadata. But there isn’t a place or way to do that yet…

From Harmonie Park Press’ About Us page on 8 December 2010:

The Music Index: A Subject-Author Guide to Music Periodical Literature. Print and Online

After more than 60 years of producing The Music Index, Information Coordinators, Inc., d/b/a Harmonie Park Press, announced the sale of Music Index ONLINE to EBSCO Publishing, Inc.

The Music Index in PRINT ceased publication with Volume 61, 2009, Annual Cumulation.

From EBSCO press release dated 21 January 2010 (pdf) (local copy of pdf):

EBSCO Publishing Acquires The Music Index Online™ from Harmonie Park Press

~ Acquisition of Comprehensive Subject-Author Guide to Music Periodical Literature Complements the Collection of Music Databases Available on EBSCOhost® ~

IPSWICH, Mass. — January 21, 2010 — Continuing a strong commitment to music research, EBSCO Publishing (EBSCO) has acquired The Music Index Online™ from Information Coordinators, Inc., d/b/a Harmonie Park Press, an international leader in music reference publishing.

The Music Index Online has been available on the EBSCOhost® platform since 2005. EBSCO Publishing President Tim Collins says the acquisition makes sense given the depth and breadth of the current music resources available on EBSCOhost®. “EBSCOhost has become the leading platform for music research and it is the most-used platform for The Music Index Online. The acquisition allows EBSCO to invest in and enhance the database while continuing to offer libraries a comprehensive package of music databases.”

EBSCO press release dated 14 Jan 2005:

EBSCO Publishing Partners with Harmonie Park Press
~ EBSCOhost® Interface to Provide Access to The Music Index ~

EBSCO Publishing, a leading producer and distributor of online research databases, and Harmonie Park Press, an international leader in music reference publishing for over fifty-five years, have agreed to make The Music Index available through the EBSCOhost® platform in the coming months. Published since 1949, The Music Index is the single most comprehensive annual subject-author guide to music literature.

According to Mark Herrick, vice president of business development at EBSCO Publishing, “We are thrilled to be able to offer our customers online access to The Music Index. This database fits very well with our growing collection of resources covering the Arts & Humanities”. EBSCO Publishing continues to make available niche databases that represent the definitive reference resource for a given area of study. Nearly 150 databases are now offered via the EBSCOhost platform.

The editor-librarians at Harmonie Park Press have surveyed data from more than 725 international music periodicals from over 40 countries in 23 languages. Topics concerned with every aspect of the classical and popular world of music are thoroughly categorized and organized according to the framework of an internal Subject List which includes both Subject and Geographic headings. Covering all styles and genres of music, The Music Index duly cites book reviews, obituaries, new periodicals, and news and articles about music, musicians, and the music industry. The thoroughness of indexing and subject heading research, along with comprehensive coverage of the music field, makes The Music Index an invaluable resource for both the novice scholar and the experienced academician.

Elaine Gorzelski, president of Harmonie Park Press, said, “We look forward to working with EBSCO to make The Music Index Online available through the popular EBSCOhost platform. This decision is based on our commitment to enhance the usefulness of The Music Index Online. Users will benefit from having additional access to full text articles.” EBSCOhost’s inherent linking capabilities allow subscribing libraries to establish links from citations in The Music Index to corresponding full text found in their other EBSCOhost databases as well as e-journal collections.

EBSCO will communicate more information about the release of The Music Index database on EBSCOhost in the coming months.

EBSCO Publishing, EBSCO Subscription Services, and EBSCO Book Services form the EBSCO Information Services group. EBSCO is a worldwide leader in providing information access and management solutions through print and electronic journal subscription services, research database development and production, online access to approximately 150 databases and thousands of e-journals, and online book purchasing. EBSCO has specialized products and services for academic, medical, government, public and school libraries as well as for corporations and other organizations. EBSCO maintains a comprehensive database of more than 282,000 serial titles and upholds active relationships with more than 60,000 publishers worldwide. 2004 marks EBSCO’s 60th year of serving the library and business communities. For more information, visit

Catalog in the smog report: 18 records for this in WorldCat today. 11 of them English language of cataloging.

sinking in.

Hmm. I’m starting to understand the state of cataloging a bit better. Reading Autocat today, it dawned on me…

Cataloging is heavily rule-based. You can learn the rules and apply them without glimpsing the underlying reason for each rule. People could conceivably make an entire career out of cataloging without ever taking that step backward to understand the underlying logic, reasoning, and principles of the work.

Yes, this is true of a lot of work. And yes, I am slow sometimes.

Now much of the freaking out that happens every time something changes makes a whole lot more sense.

I may have thought about this more than a lot of people because I have taught intro cataloging for years now, and students always ask, “Why?” My goal as a teacher is to instill in them a sense of the “Why.” I have not always done a good job of helping students understand this, but I aim to get better at it ever semester. Not only will this help them be better catalogers (if they choose or fall into that role), but my hope is it will make for public service and administrative librarians who have a bit more of a sense of why the catalogers do what they do and the value of it.

Well, one can dream anyway.

why punctuation matters.

James Weinheimer somewhat recently (on my timescale, anyway) defended the terrible, cryptic abbreviations of cataloging.

I particularly liked this bit:

I think it is absolutely vital for librarians and catalogers to stop thinking that the text that is entered into a database or a web page is static and cannot be transformed. That is card thinking. Today there are incredible things that can be done using all kinds of tools from scripting to style-sheets to browser add-ons and who knows what else? Look at Google Translate, and think about how a much simplified tool could reformat abbreviations. And not just for English speakers, but properly done, such a tool could work for all languages who could look and work with exactly the same records.

Anything in a webpage can be transformed if you want it to be transformed and there are lots of possible ways of doing it. It can be done on the server, or it can be done on each client’s computer. This is a basic change in how people can work with our records (and how I hope they want to work with our records, if we’re lucky) that has yet to be thoroughly understood and addressed.

Yes. And now, in the same spirit, I will defend our cryptic, senseless attachment to punctuation. My claim is that punctuation in a catalog record is still important, and that we should continue to pay attention to it and do it correctly.

Ideally, we would not need to type in the punctuation. Ideally we’d have a more modern standard for encoding cataloging data. For now, in real life, we are stuck with crap ILSs and MARC for a while longer. And so the way we can manipulate our data is perhaps a bit less elegant than it could be. But encoding our data using the standards we have (MARC and ISBD punctuation) in the correct, standard way, would greatly simplify things.

That is kind of the point of standards, after all.

When I started in my current position, the 300s were being deleted from some batches of vendor records in the local editing process. Keeping the 300 data in was one of the first decisions I made here.

Ideally, I would have been able to edit my assistant’s batch-editing instruction sheets from: Delete 300 to: Do this regex find/replace on the 300. And that regex would insert “1 online resource (” at the beginning of $a. Then it would insert “)” right before the first occurrence of ” :” or ” ;”.

It would be utterly trivial to update this print-centric field to the current recommended format.

But no. This won’t work because of the sloppiness of the encoding (MARC and ISBD punctuation).

In real life, to make this simple change, I first have to identify all the ways the 300 encoding is screwed up in the file. I find treasures like:

=300 \$axviii, 405 p.$bill.
=300 \$axi, 372 p. :$bill.23cm.
=300 \$a279p ; 17 maps.
=300 \$a52 leaves :$c15 cm

Every time I think I have collected all possible weird permutations of punctuation and coding errors, and need to sit down to construct a frightening regular expression find/replace, I happen across something new.

Then I go through multiple steps to standardize the 300 fields. Depending on the size and crappiness of the batch of records, this can take 15 minutes to hours.

Then I can run the find/replace that I should be able to just run. Which takes at most a few seconds.

Something easy (making sure a $b is before any ill. statements and there is a ” :” before the $b) would make this easy. But punctuation is seen as unimportant and fiddly, anal-retentive cataloger stuff, and it’s just too hard to pay attention, or to build a cataloging system that will reject a record with a 300 field containing “ill.” or “maps” or “ports.” but lacking a ” :$b”.

Now this is a pathetically simple example, and someone with more regex-fu than me might have a magic find/replace combo that can parse any weird 300 thrown at it. (If so, and if you are reading this, please share.)

But you shouldn’t have to be a regex wizard to perform a simple data transformation.

And I will avoid sliding into a whole other tangent, but it seems clear that the movement is toward caring less and less about data quality, dumping whatever crap we can buy from Serials Solutions or other vendors into our catalogs. We have to give up control. We have to recognize the new vision of the catalog in the cloud where we can’t have hissy fits over missing colons. As long as there is some version of the title, it’s good enough.

I wonder what this new laid-back catalog in the cloud will look like and how easy it will be to manipulate its records, mash up the data, or do anything cool or useful with the information there. Probably even more frightening than WorldCat, which is saying something.

I (want to) believe that catalogers are not nitpicky because we are all anal-retentive obsessive compulsives who have nothing better to do than gripe about punctuation and pick fleas off of our cats. I (want to) believe that we are so nitpicky because we know there is a reason for being so—that attention to detail the first time around makes everyone’s job easier and quicker in the end.

invisible online access, or, that was a gopher!

Try this in whatever ILS cataloging module you can get your paws on:

Search for all the records with 856 fields either containing NO $u or an empty $u.

In Millennium create lists, the search was:
856 not equal to {nothing} AND 856|u equal to {nothing}

I did that search out of morbid curiosity and got a surprise: we had 250+ miscoded and/or obsolete 856s that had piled up over time. The result was catalog records that said: ONLINE ACCESS! And then showed the user no link or a non-functioning link (as in it just reloaded the catalog record over and over again).

These are now cleaned up in our catalog. Hurrah!

morning fun.

In a few seconds, I will remove one of the subject headings from this record in our catalog.* Guess which one. Anyone can play! (Subject headings start with 610, 650, 651, 6??.)

245 04 The Black panther :|bintercommunal news service / |cselected and edited by David Hilliard.
250 1st Atria Books trade pbk. ed.
260 New York :|bAtria Books,|c2007.
300 xxiv, 152 p. :|bill. (some col.) ;|c28 cm. +|e1 CD-ROM (4 3/4 in.)
504 Includes bibliographical references and index.
610 20 Black Panther Party|xNewspapers|xHistory.
610 20 Black Panther Party|xHistory.
650 0 Leopard.
650 0 African Americans|xPolitics and government|y20th century.
650 0 African Americans|xCivil rights|xHistory|y20th century.
650 0 Civil rights movements|zUnited States|xHistory|y20th century.
650 0 Civil rights movements|xHistory|y20th century.
650 0 African Americans|zCalifornia|zOakland|xPolitics and government|y20th century.
650 0 African Americans|xServices for|zCalifornia|zOakland |xHistory|y20th century.
651 0 Oakland (Calif.)|xRace relations|xHistory|y20th century.
700 1 Hilliard, David.
730 0 Black panther.

* It is SO satisfying to actually be able to FIX the problems I find in the catalog!

the revenge of Mrs. Bridges

via Catalogue & Index:

I picked up from John Attig’s blog (thanks!) the following outcome of the JSC meeting on 17th March, in the context of the development of RDA:

“The scope of Person will be extended to include fictitious persons. As a result of this, works that purport to be created by fictitious persons such as Miss Piggy will be treated as creators of those works.”

Vaguely relatedly, I was reading Trouble with Tom: The Strange Afterlife & Times of Thomas Paine by Paul Collins recently. Fascinating book. Anyway, Collins comments on the fact that LC cataloged a book purportedly written by Paine after death under Paine, Thomas (Spirit). And then he goes on to discuss TomS vs. TomC (Tom, corporeal). (this is on pp. 82-3 of the advance reading copy I happened to get my paws on.)

File under more ways to amuse my cataloging students… and to make their heads reel from exposure to catalogers’ logic.

do other librarians talk about death as much as catalogers?

Intriguing question from AUTOCAT:

I’m writing to ask if anyone else out there has created short MARC records for obituaries or local newspaper articles of interest and included them in their main catalog. If you did, which MARC fields did you use, and what type of information do you include in each field. For ex., if you catalog obituaries, does the name of the deceased go in the 245 field, a 600 field, or both?

See also: Dedication.

Also, why have I run into so many goth catalogers? Because we don’t have to deal with the public as much as others? Because we nearly always work in a basement?

Also, why does it seem that a lot of library people with ADHD do cataloging and organization of information? On one hand it makes no sense. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense. Programming is a logical process that is also highly picky (a semicolon once stalled me for half a day—then again, I don’t really know what I’m doing…). and it’s a cliché that programming is full of people with ADHD…

Anyway, I’d say the deceased definitely would go in a 600, as the obit is about them. I’d put the header of the obit in the 245, and, if there isn’t a header, I’d supply a title proper which would probably contain the name of the deceased. But I’ve never cataloged obituaries in a library, so I’ll be curious what others say.

gems from the collection, or, things i found in the catalog recently

  • Tickle me emo : Lesbian balladeering, straight-boy emo and the politics of affect / Karen Tongson
  • Goth’s Medical pharmacology.
  • A record containing the following songs:
    • 740 02 Reet, petite and gone.
    • 740 02 Rusty, dusty blues.
    • 740 02 Is you is or is you ain’t (my baby)
    • 740 02 My baby.
    • 740 02 Salt pork, West Virginia.
    • 740 02 Boogie woogie blue plate.
    • 740 02 Buzz me.
    • 740 02 Open the door, Richard.
    • 740 02 Texas and Pacific.
    • 740 02 What’s the use of gettin’ sober (When you’re gonna get drunk again)
    • 740 02 What’s the use of getting sober (When you’re going to get drunk again)
    • 740 02 I like ’em fat like that.
    • 740 02 I like them fat like that.
    • 740 02 Somebody done changed the lock on my door.
    • 740 02 Early in the morning.
    • 740 02 Five guys named Moe.
    • 740 02 Jack, you’re dead.

The gettin’/getting and ’em/them uncontrolled title access points are truly jewels of access. Yay for the Southern Folklife Collection.