Music Discovery Requirements

I. Introduction

The discovery landscape shifted rapidly in the years after the Music Discovery Requirements’ 2012 release.[1] RDA replaced AACR2 as the major library cataloging standard. The Library of Congress launched the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus (LCMPT) and Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT), providing stand-alone vocabularies for these attributes. BIBFRAME development is solidly underway, and linked data is an emerging library reality, not a future idea. Though music users’ needs are relatively unchanged, expectations continue to rise and technological shifts have opened new discovery possibilities.

In this environment, the Music Library Association (MLA), at the joint request of the Emerging Technologies and Services Committee (ETSC) and Cataloging and Metadata Committee (CMC), appointed a task force to revise the Music Discovery Requirements with the following charge:

Update the Music Discovery Requirements, with particular focus on: RDA updates; MARC updates; incorporating LCGFT and LCMPT, and updating appendices B & C (appendix A will be dropped). Strongly consider creating an HTML version, and evaluate whether a pdf version needs to be retained. Set a mechanism in place for ongoing revisions to the MDR.

The task force began work in summer 2016. In May 2017, the task force shared a draft with MLA’s CMC and ETSC. After incorporating feedback from those committees, the task force posted a public draft for comment July 7 to August 7, 2017, then incorporated those comments into the final version presented to the MLA Board of directors for endorsement.

This 2017 revision of the Music Discovery Requirements (MDR2) reflects changes in encoding and recording standards since 2012. LCMPT and LCGFT are now incorporated throughout. MDR2 focuses on RDA with considerations for AACR2 legacy data. MARC and all metadata schemas were carefully reviewed for updates. MDR2 drops three metadata schemas (VRA Core and CDWA Lite, due to low use for music materials; EAD due to considerations detailed in section V), adds two schemas (PBCore and EBUCore)[2] and introduces discussion of BIBFRAME, including some basic mappings.[3] The chart in VI details the metadata schemas and versions in MDR1 and MDR2.

MRD2 retains MDR1’s scope of music and discovery, focusing on the unique discovery needs of musical works (scores and recordings) rather than secondary literature about music (books and articles), and on discovery rather than back end functions such as circulation, cataloging, and acquisitions. This continued focus on discovery means recommendations are focused on indexing and presentation of data for discovery, rather than rules and best practices for recording data or metadata formats and encoding standards. The organization is likewise unchanged, consisting of three FRBR-aligned sections and subsections consisting of: prose discussion; prose summary recommendation; best practices for indexing, display, and facets/limits; and related MARC authority fields. MARC field labels are given as currently defined, even when they do not align with RDA terminology. Library data standards continue to privilege Western art music, but strides have been made towards serving other musics, and those changes are incorporated as applicable to discovery. Interfaces facilitating discovery for large amounts of music beyond the Western art music tradition may benefit from further customizations, if data has been encoded to support such customizations.

MDR2 contains three appendices: Appendix A compiles technical details of the recommendations in spreadsheet form. Appendix B details MARC bibliographic record mapping for content and carrier. Note that MDR2 drops MDR1’s Appendix A: Compiled Details of Indexing and Display Requirements (Index Focused). The tag focused spreadsheet (Appendix B in MDR1) can meet the needs served in Appendix A. Therefore, in MDR2, the tag focused version is now Appendix A and MARC Bibliographic Record Mapping for Content and Carrier is now Appendix B. The new Appendix C is not a mapping document but a spreadsheet outlining history of the coding and definition of Format of Notated Music, to be used in conjunction with III.D Format of Notated Music.

The MDR will be made available in both pdf and an easily navigable HTML version.

MLA’s Emerging Technologies and Services Committee (ETSC) will initiate (by forming a working group) future revisions to the MDR, informed by a running list relevant changes to content standards, encoding standards, and vocabularies which MLA’s Cataloging and Metadata Committee (CMC) will maintain and share with the ETSC annually in September. Full maintenance plan details are posted to the Music Discovery Resources section of the MLA website.[4]

[1] Nara L. Newcomer, Rebecca Belford, Deb Kulzcak, and Kimmy Szeto with Jennifer Matthews, Misti Shaw, “Music Discovery Requirements,” Music Library Association Emerging Technologies and Services Committee. Music Discovery Resources, April 23, 2012, accessed August 25, 2017, See also the introduction to that document for more detail regarding the first (2012) version of the Music Discovery Requirements and earlier discovery efforts by the music library community.

[2] A future version of the MDR will incorporate any changes based on RDA adoption of IFLA-LRM as a conceptual model. The first changes are expected in April 2018, per the RDA Steering Committee: RDA Steering Committee, “Implementation of the LRM in RDA,” accessed August 25, 2017,

[3] BIBFRAME mapping for discovery depends a great deal on context, vocabularies used, and local implementation decisions. The mappings provided here are not complete, and are intended only as guidance about where to start. See Section V.H. for links to current information.

[4] Music Library Association. Music Discovery Resources, accessed November 15, 2017,