Audiovisual Cataloging

Catalogers working with music materials will want to be current with the Music Library Association’s Best Practices for Music Cataloging Using RDA and MARC21. Since February of last year, this document has been integrated with the RDA Toolkit (under the Resources tab).  You need not be logged on to the Toolkit to access Best Practices, but the links to RDA instructions will not work unless you are.

If you want to consult a more traditionally formatted document, the old website of the former Bibliographic Control Committee of the Music Library Association has links to PDF files of Version 1.1 (the final version issued as a complete stand-alone PDF file), a list of changes between versions 1.01 and 1.1, and Supplements to Best Practices for Music Cataloging Using RDA and MARC21, version 1.5, 12 April 2016 (this last document is also available at the current website of MLA’s Cataloging and Metadata Committee).  Be aware, of course, that the Toolkit-integrated document will presumably be more up to date.


One of the most vexing problems in cataloging music sound recordings is sorting through all the labels you encounter. We’ve found a few online resources that may be of help in identifying them:

Wikipedia’s article“Record label”

A list of notable record labels linked from the above; and (disclaimer here: I have recently found this last site and have not yet used it).

Two more useful sites if you work with Polish films (or, as I did yesterday, with a series of audiobooks featuring Polish film actors as readers): and Filmweb. I have not worked with either site enough to compare their coverage or detail with IMDB, but they were lifesavers (especially Filmpolski) for authority work.

Now to be perfectly frank (and earnest), no one hands us programs when we catalog films at Indian Trails, nor to my knowledge have the Rockettes ever made an appearance. However, we do have a number of resources to help us do the work faster and better, even if we don’t have as much fun as Annie and Sandy.

Joy has already posted about the Internet Movie Database — probably the movie cataloger’s most indispensable online resource outside the cataloging tools themselves. But there are some more specialized sites as well that are worth knowing about.

Cataloging a musical or play? The Internet Broadway Database aims to be to Broadway what IMDB is to films. “IBDB (Internet Broadway Database) archive is the official database for Broadway theatre information. IBDB provides records of productions from the beginnings of New York theatre until today.”

A niche in which we have collected, not heavily, but significantly at our library is Mexican film, particularly of the so-called “Golden Age” (1939-1945) through the 1950s and early 1960s. A surprising amount of the information needed for these films can be found in IMDB, but I have used several other sources as well.

Más de Cien Años de Cine Mexicano, while by no means encyclopedic, is a good source of information on the more prominent films, directors, and stars of Mexican film — and, if you read Spanish, an enjoyable read and a good introduction to the subject.

The Mexican Film Resource Page has a great many useful links categorized under General and Organizational Sites, Online Newspapers and Magazines, Production and Distribution Companies (and TV networks), Research Sites and Lists, Pages I Have Created (“I” being the site’s author, David Wilt), and Sites Dedicated to Individual Films, Specific Genres, or People. Of particular interest if you really want to get deeply into this, PDFs of current issues of The Mexican Film Bulletin are also available here (January 2008 through September-October 2010 at this writing; a CD of volumes 1-14 is also available for purchase).

Terminology is always an issue when cataloging films, the more so when credits are in a language other than English. You won’t find entries for the equivalents of “gaffer,” “best boy,” and “key grip” in a standard Spanish-English dictionary! Ask me how I know this! There is an online Spanish to English Glossary of Translations–Cinema, Film, TV, Drama Terms (a KudoZ open glossary) that I have often found useful. You can search terms or, alternatively (and sometimes amusingly) browse. Altera un poco el ánimo (it changes one’s mood a little) while cataloging. A drop-down menu lets you choose from a large array of languages; I have not tried any of the others, but the Russian-English and Polish-English lists look promising.

Finally, for those who catalog anime, the Anime News Network Encyclopedia — “The Internet’s most trusted anime news source.” I have not consulted this very much, but my colleague who catalogs our anime collection and is an expert in the field uses it extensively.

Want to know more about John Barrowman? Need to know the credits for De-Lovely? Don’t know what Torchwood is?  Then you will appreciate this site

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) tries to “catalog every pertitent detail about a movie, from who was in it, to who made it, to trivia about it, to filming locations, and even where you can find reviews and fan sites on the web”. It’s a good resource to flesh out the bibliographic record. The database also includes some basic information about televison shows.

Don’t know who Toad the Wet Sprocket is? or what kind of music they are known for? AllMusic is a wonderful site for finding out what genre of music a group or individual is known for. The site also has a brief history of the person/group and reviews of their albums. You can also listen to a sample of songs if you need to determine whether or not the artist meets your pop criteria or just to say you have heard the artist.

“The quality of summary notes found in online bibliographic records varies greatly …” An understatement, that quote from the Introduction! This document from OLAC is a good orientation to the principles of creating and revising summary notes. Though prepared with AV materials in mind, it’s also useful for summaries for children’s books.

Summary Notes for Catalog Records (OLAC Cataloging Policy Committee, Summary/Abstracts Task Force, August 2002)

As with the other OLAC resources I’ve cited, the URL has changed since we prepared our handouts for our last Technical Services Tips & Tricks presentation; so if you derived a bookmark from those, you should update it.

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