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#5.1 – Preliminary exploration of BIBFRAME profiles

Posted By Anna A. LoPrete, Friday, January 30, 2015
Updated: Friday, January 30, 2015

by Anna Alfeld and Catherine Busselen


Our focus in this initial exploration of BIBFRAME profiles has really been more of a reflection on what a MARC profile for music would look like.  We did this in order to answer an important question: is a single BIBFRAME profile for music adequate?   Are there enough differences in the way we treat notated music and audio recordings to warrant more than one profile?  By working with an existing set of elements, instructions and best practices within the music cataloging community we are better able to see very clearly where those differences lie.  At the same time, we will be able to reuse the data and build upon it as we build our BIBFRAME vocabulary and BIBFRAME profile.

We created a listing of all MARC fields and subfields currently used for cataloging notated music and/or audio recordings.  Next we identified whether each of the elements is used (1) exclusively for notated music, (2) exclusively for audio recordings, (3) used for notated music and audio recordings but no other formats, or (4) used for notated music and/or audio recordings as well as other formats.  Additionally, we recorded the relevant RDA instruction, FRBR entity and any other related MARC fields.  This listing is available for viewing and comments. Finally, we reviewed the MARC documentation, RDA instructions, LC-PCC PSs and the MLA Best Practices for Music Cataloging Using RDA and MARC21 to track music-specific requirements or recommendations of usage for each of the MARC fixed fields/subfields.

Our findings were not surprising but do help to evaluate the need for a single versus multiple profiles. We identified 385 MARC fixed fields and subfields (referred to as elements from this point forward) used by music catalogers for notated music and audio recordings.  This number is not exhaustive, for example, we did not count $2 Source for each field that it would pertain to, nor did we include MARC elements that may be appropriate for notated music or audio recordings but that are used very rarely or are discouraged for use by the music cataloging community of practice.  We did, however, include some fields that are no longer used with RDA but that, due to a high level of usage with notated music or audio recordings in AACR2, we felt would be necessary to incorporate, such as the 254 Musical Presentation Statement.  Of the 385 elements, only four are used exclusively for notated music compared to 22 used exclusively for audio recordings.  Twenty-four are used for notated music and audio recordings but no other formats.  Additionally, mini-profiles for music (notated and music audio recordings) exist for 006 and 008 which together incorporate 17 codes.  At least 318 elements are used for notated music and/or audio recordings, as well as other formats.  At least 50, and likely more, elements that are not limited to use for notated music or audio recordings are used for only a limited number of other formats and/or are specifically recommended for use when cataloging notated music and/or audio recordings by the PCC or MLA.


It was also noted that some MARC fields are used for multiple purposes with music materials in particular; for example, in records for works with non-distinctive titles, the 245 $a incorporates other identifying elements such as medium of performance and key; while the 245 $b is used not only for subtitles and parallel titles but also for other identifying elements for music with distinctive titles such as type of composition, medium of performance and key. Some fields, such as 240 and 246, are used across disciplines and forms but not to the extent that they are used with music resources.


The analysis made it quite clear that separate profiles for notated music and audio recordings would be preferable and would provide a more streamlined workflow within the BIBFRAME editor.

Tags:  BIBFRAME Profiles 

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The Music Library Association is the professional association for music libraries and librarianship in the United States. Founded in 1931, it has an international membership of librarians, musicians, scholars, educators, and members of the book and music trades. Complementing the Association’s national and international activities are eleven regional chapters that carry out its programs on the local level.