Library of Congress to develop Medium of Performance Thesaurus for Music in cooperation with the Music Library Association
The Library of Congress, in cooperation with the Music Library Association, has begun to develop a new thesaurus of terms representing vocabulary for the medium of performance of musical works. The vocabulary is intended to be used, at least initially, for two bibliographic purposes:
- to retrieve music by its medium of performance in library catalogs, as is now done by the controlled vocabulary, Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH);
- to record the element “medium of performance” of musical works, as represented in individual music resources cataloged according to RDA: Resource Description and Access (RDA).
Medium of performance is now recognized as a separate and distinct bibliographic facet that should have its own vocabulary and vocabulary structure. Searches by medium enable users to retrieve music by a particular instrument or instrumental group, voice or vocal group, through a medium term alone or in any combination with other medium terms the searcher may specify.
As currently incorporated into LCSH, medium of performance terms may occur in subject headings in two ways: either along with a term for genre, form, type, or style of music, or in subject headings that have only one or more medium terms in them. Eventually, Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT) will contain the terms for genre, form, type, style, etc., of music. When such music terms are implemented in LCGFT, it is envisioned that we will cease including such terms in LCSH strings. In that way, LCSH continues towards the direction set with the LCGFT initiative, to reflect more what a work is about, leaving what a work is to LCGFT, and showing what the medium of performance is through use of the new Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus for Music (LCMPT).
Our intention is to use the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus as a source vocabulary for RDA’s “medium of performance” element. Currently, RDA contains only a small representative selection of all of the terms that could be used for medium of performance.
It should also be noted that any library’s adoption of this new Medium of Performance Thesaurus could proceed independently from any cataloging code or communications standard the library may adopt.
As part of developing this new thesaurus of medium of performance terms, the terms will be defined and their relationships to each other made explicit. The thesaurus will contain many terms familiar to users of LCSH but there will be more terms than LCSH provides. The thesaurus will sometimes use different terms than LCSH uses for the same concept. Once the new thesaurus appears in structured form and is implemented, updating will take place at the Library of Congress according to a regular schedule and with the same cooperative participation by other libraries as is now done for LCSH and LCGFT.
Questions may be sent to Geraldine Ostrove, Policy and Standards Division, Library of Congress (firstname.lastname@example.org)