Frequently Asked Questions

What does the MLA Cataloging and Metadata Committee do?

A lot! CMC subcommittees develop and maintain vocabularies for use in music cataloging (such as LCMPT for musical medium of performance terms and LCGFT for musical form and genre terms), assist in augmenting the MARC standard to accommodate music materials, develop and maintain music-specific "best practices" documents to supplement cataloging standards like RDA, sponsor three music-specific PCC funnels, and much more. CMC also convenes task forces and working groups as needed to work on certain focused projects in a concentrated time. See our Groups page and PCC Funnels page for more information.

How do I join one of the subcommittees of the MLA Cataloging and Metadata Committee?

Write to us and let us know you are interested! We accept applications for subcommittee membership (a four-year term) in the month or two leading up to the MLA meeting each year (which is usually in February), and we make decisions on assignments during a closed session at the end of the meeting. Watch MLA-L for the call for applications each winter. Applications consist of a brief statement of interest and summary of your relevant background and are typically due to the CMC Chair by the Friday evening of the MLA meeting. Earlier is better. See the CMC Handbook on our Groups page for more information.

How do I keep up with developments in the world of music cataloging and metadata?

So many ways! CMC shares information pertinent to the music cataloging and metadata community via MLA-L, the MLA Newsletter, the Music Cataloging Bulletin, the CMC blog (which you can subscribe to or simply bookmark), occasional webinars and screencasts, and CMC-sponsored forums and presentations at the annual MLA meeting.

What should I do if I have an idea for a program session at MLA that is related to music cataloging or metadata?

Let us know! CMC sponsors a few program sessions at the MLA meeting each year, so contact the CMC Chair with your ideas, big or small. CMC develops and submits proposals for content during the month or two after the MLA meeting for the following year's meeting. However, you may share your ideas at any time.

How do I suggest a revision to the RDA Best Practices?

Send your ideas - Suggestions submitted through this form will be considered by the Content Standards Subcommittee (check the status of submissions here). RDA Best Practices revisions usually appear quarterly in sync with the RDA Toolkit update cycle. The Supplements document is published separately and is available at the CMC website.

How do I suggest a revision to RDA?

Send your ideas - The Content Standards Subcommittee works with the RSC Music Working Group or with ALA ALCTS CC:DA to develop music-related discussion papers and revision proposals regarding RDA. These papers and proposals are then presented to the RDA Steering Committee for action.

How do I suggest a new or revised LC-PCC Policy Statement?

Send your ideas - The Content Standards Subcommittee regularly assists the Library of Congress with the formulation and revision of music-related LC-PCC Policy Statements.

How do I propose a new or revised music subject heading, genre/form term, or medium of performance term?

If your institution is already a member of SACO, you can propose new and revised music LCSH headings, LCMPT terms, and LCGFT terms through your existing mechanism (i.e., your institution’s Minaret login). Otherwise, you are encouraged to submit your proposal through the SACO Music Funnel. See here for more instructions on how to prepare a proposal, as well as proposal forms.

How do I propose new or revised terms on the Types of Compositions list?

You can submit a proposal by emailing the Vocabularies Subcommittee’s coordinator for Types List maintenance. See the section “Submitting terms for consideration” on the list webpage for the contact information for that person.

How do I propose new or revised entries on the Thematic Indexes list (MLATI)?

You can submit a proposal by emailing the Vocabularies Subcommittee’s coordinator for MLATI maintenance. See the section “Suggestions for Additions” on the list webpage for the contact information for that person.

How do I suggest a revision to the LCMPT or LCGFT Best Practices?

You can make a suggestion by emailing the Chair of the Vocabularies Subcommittee. Revisions to the LCMPT and LCGFT Best Practices are made periodically as needed and as community practices evolve with these emerging vocabularies.

How do I make suggestions for changes to MARC21?

The MLA membership has come up with excellent ideas for how the MARC21 format or its documentation could be improved. Contact the Chair of the Encoding Standards Subcommittee with your suggestion. The subcommittee will discuss the idea, either by email or at the subcommittee’s meeting at the annual MLA conference, and add it to our development calendar if there is interest and capacity.

How long does it take to make a change to the MARC21 format?

It depends. Very simple corrections to MARC21 documentation can be handled by the Encoding Standards Subcommittee Chair in consultation with the Library of Congress’s Network Development and Standards Office (NDMSO). These changes would then be published in the next update to the MARC formats, something that happens at least twice a year. A new “fast-track” process is being implemented to accommodate smaller changes to the formats when they aren’t likely to be controversial, or when they would not impact users outside of a domain such as music. The total turnaround time from proposal to publication could be several months to less than a year, though the fast-track process is too new to know for sure.

More complex changes are often a two-step process that begins with a discussion paper drafted by the Encoding Standards Subcommittee, which is then submitted for formal review by the full MARC Advisory Committee, followed by discussion by the MARC Steering Committee. The successful discussion papers return as formal proposals that go through the same review process. Minimally, this process takes a year, though eighteen months would be a more realistic minimum time period. Full implementation of the published standards by OCLC and others would take even longer.

What if I have suggestions for changing or developing other encoding standards?

Expertise within the Encoding Standards Subcommittee is broad, but its membership may not be expert on the encoding standard you would like to improve. Share your suggestion with the Chair of the Encoding Standards Subcommittee, and the subcommittee will take it on if we feel that we can deal with it properly. BIBFRAME is definitely in development as a potential successor to MARC, though formal mechanisms to contribute to its evolution aren’t fully developed. Still, feel free to share your ideas or concerns.