Cataloguing – like a real Librarian!

Another rainy day in Warrington, meant a rather soggy bike commute to the station but at least the trains were running today after yesterday’s cancellations (a fatality at Widnes meant I got bussed to Newton-le-Willows to catch a Manchester train, only to find lectures cancelled due to illness).

Today is placement day though, so even Manchester rain couldn’t dampen my spirits as I dodged my way along Oxford Street to the RNCM. The staff are all lovely and made me feel so welcome again. This morning I was with Geoff again applying some of the theories of music cataloguing to some real examples. First we catalogued a Berlioz Cantata in a piano reduction which was fairly straightforward, but even so threw up issues with language and publisher, dates and editors. Secondly we catalogued a volume of selected songs from the musical Spamalot, where even agreeing on a principal composer was tricky! We’ve covered MARC records briefly in lectures, but applying it in practice: remembering which number is which field; appending colons, semi-colons and full stops in the right place is definitely a craft learnt on the job. The craft of creating a complete and searchable record which accurately reflects the piece of music and it’s edition and arrangement is even harder and something which is slightly scary.

After break I was with Julia having a brief introduction to acquisitions. Acquisitions at RNCM are somewhat different to the other University libraries we’ve had speakers from. The budgets are obviously smaller and books are only a small proportion of the spending. The majority of spending goes on music which is largely purchased in response to student request. Julia outlined the ordering procedure and we visited the post room to follow the ‘receiving’ procedure through from collection to creating a skeleton catalogue record. Julia explained why she enjoyed the job so much as there is a variety of contact with publishers and even composers to track down and obtain individual and often esoteric pieces of music, as well as dealing with academic staff and students to clarify requests.

After lunch I started on my first little project: to catalogue individual chapters of anthologies of journal articles and then ‘attach’ them to the parent record. The actual entering was fairly simple, just using the 100 ‘author’ and ‘240’ title fields of the MARC record, but I also had to check I wasn’t creating duplicate records and type accurately in Italian! This was my first real live attempt at cataloguing and it was surprisingly enjoyable. I think it appealed to my perfectionist side. I managed to catalogue a volume of 22 Handel articles, 17 Montiverdi, but only got half way through the volume on Vivaldi before it was time to venture back onto the rainy streets of Manchester and my train home.

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