RDA Best Practices Changes in the April RDA Toolkit Release

The April RDA Toolkit release was published on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. The release contains updates to MLA RDA Best Practices, as detailed below. As a reminder, the RDA Best Practices are available in the RDA Toolkit and the Best Practices Supplement documents are available at the CMC website. The April release also included changes to several LC-PCC Policy Statements (LC-PCC PS), summarized in this document available at the LC website.

This update cycle was particularly challenging because changes to RDA content, LC-PCC PS and the RDA Best Practices were being developed simultaneously on a very tight time-frame in an effort to get as much as possible into this release before the impending RDA content freeze. As a result, some of the RDA Best Practices merely point to following LC (rather than LC/PCC) practice, as our editing deadline preceded PCC approval of the LC-PCC PS texts. Revisions, where necessary, will be placed in the queue for the next update cycle (April 2018).

Changes to the MLA Best Practices

Statement of Responsibility – Scope (RDA Revised the wording of the best practice to include performers named alone in addition to situations where the performer(s) are named more prominently than composers, songwriters, etc.

Designation of Edition (RDA 2.5.2): Updated the text of the best practice to reflect the split of “particular voice range” and “particular format of notated music” in the RDA instruction.

Basic Instructions on Recording Identifier for Manifestation (RDA 2.15.1): Revised the wording to clarify that this instruction applies to issue numbers for audio recordings and to music publisher numbers for materials other than notated music.

Recording Production Method (RDA Added guidance for recording a production method for certain types of optical discs (e.g., CD-R, DVD-R, etc.).

Musical Works Created after 1500 (RDA and Choice of Language (RDA These new recommendations provide a working definition of “cognate” and guidance for the selection of the language of a type term.

Complete Works of a Single Type of Composition for One Specific Medium or Various Media (RDA This Best Practice provides guidance for term selection.

Medium of Performance (RDA,, Added recommendations to follow LC practice for the first instruction and to not apply optional omissions for the second and third instructions).

Numeric Designation of a Musical Work (RDA 6.16): Added clarification for recording numeric designations and added several new examples.

Additional Elements in Authorized Access Points Representing Musical Works (RDA & Added recommendations to follow LC practice (as codified in the LC-PCC PSs for these instructions).

Duration of Component Parts (RDA Added a recommendation for the alternative and a new example.

Other minor changes included:

  • Updating element names (RDA 2.15.2 & 2.15.3) in the best practice headings
  • Linking best practices from deleted instructions to their new homes (RDA 3.9.2 & 3.10.2 linked to RDA 3.9 & 3.10, respectively)
  • Removing a best practice for an instruction alternative that no longer exists (RDA

There were no changes to the Best Practices Supplement documents in this cycle.

To facilitate the 3R project, RDA content will be frozen until the April 2018 Toolkit release. During this time CSS will undertake a full review of the RDA best practices, comparing with the LC-PCC PS, updating/revising examples, and looking at alternate presentation for the Supplement 1. CSS will also continue to collect suggestions and feedback regarding the RDA Best Practices. Suggestions for new or revised Best Practices can be made via the submission form located in the FAQ on the CMC website.

Best Practices for Using LCMPT–new version now available


The MLA Vocabularies Subcommittee is pleased to offer a new version of the document Best Practices for Using LCMPT. In addition to a number of minor formatting and stylistic updates, the following new content is incorporated:

  1. Guidance for use of the new 382 subfields $r and $t
  2. Expanded guidance on “bi-level” medium statements
  3. Expanded guidance on partial medium statements
  4. Clarification on polychoral situations

As always, feedback and questions can be directed to me (casey@mullingroup.com). Additionally, the new revision will be briefly discussed at the VS business meeting and at the CMC Town Hall at MLA Orlando.

I wish to thank the VS task group who prepared this revision, amidst a shifting landscape of MARC format updates and evolving practices with faceted vocabularies.


Casey Mullin

RDA Toolkit and MLA Best Practices Update

The August 9, 2016 release of the RDA Toolkit contains content updates, corrections, revised examples and other Fast Track changes from the RSC. These changes are described in detail in two RSC documents available at the RSC site: RSC/Sec/3, which describes Fast Track and other changes, and RSC/Sec/4, which outlines revisions made to support the development of RDA Reference and the RDA Toolkit Glossary. Background information on these latter changes can be found in the document RSC/Chair/17, also available at the RSC site. The list of changes to LC-PCC Policy Statements can be found at the Library of Congress website.

The link to the Best Practices Supplements that are accessible via the MLA CMC website has been changed. The new link text is http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/resource/resmgr/BCC_RDA/Supp_RDA_Best_Practices.pdf.

Music-related Changes in the August Toolkit Release

Designation of edition (, 3rd paragraph, line b): In the scope, the former text “a particular voice range or format of notated music” has been split into separate list items.

Identifiers (, 2nd paragraph): The last category of identifiers has been revised to refer only to notated music. Issue numbers for audio recordings are covered under the second category (“other identifiers assigned by publishers”).

Publisher’s Number for Notated Music (2.15.2) and Plate Number for Notated Music (2.15.3): The revised element names clarify that these elements refer only to notated music. Instructions and glossary entries have also been updated.

Recording Medium of Performance ( The scope contains a new second paragraph that refers to 7.21 for guidelines on recording the medium of performance of musical content. The related last paragraph of has been deleted.

Indeterminate Medium of Performance ( The instruction for “Some Instruments, etc. Unspecified” has been revised to specify use of “unspecified,” dropping “or a similar term” from the instruction.

Appendix I: Terms added or revised include remix artist, casting director, audio producer, audio engineer, mixing engineer, recording engineer, DJ, dubbing director.

Other Revisions of Interest from the RDA Reference/Toolkit Glossary Development

Encoding format ( The vocabulary lists for encoding formats have been removed from the instruction.

Generation ( Vocabulary from separate element sub-types (including audio recordings, digital resources, microforms, motion picture films, videotapes) have been merged into a single vocabulary list. Instructions pertaining to all of the element sub-types have been deleted.

Illustrative Content ( The list of terms no longer includes the term “music.”

Layout ( The vocabulary for tactile music notation has been subsumed into a single list of terms for layout.

Material ( The term “magnetic particles” has been added to the list of base materials.

Production Method (, Exception): An exception has been added for instructions on using the terms “holograph,” “manuscript,” and “typescript.” Production Method for Manuscript (3.9.2) has been deleted.

Aspect Ratio (7.19): The previous instructions for Aspect Ratio referred to both numerical and textual values. Aspect Ratio (7.19) is now used only for the numerical ratio. A new element, Aspect Ratio Designation (, records a general term indicating a range of ratios (e.g., “wide screen,” a term covering ratios of 1.5:1 or greater).

Sound Content (7.18): The scope of Sound Content has been revised to note the absence of sound and is no longer tied to a resource “other than one that consists primarily of recorded sound.”

Changes to LC-PCC Policy Statements

LC-PCC PS provides guidance on recording serial numbers for musical works.

LC-PCC PS Updates the link to Thematic Indexes Used in Library of Congress NACO Authority Files

LC-PCC PS This policy statement was deleted because the instruction was removed from RDA.

RDA Toolkit and MLA Best Practices update

The April 12, 2016 release of the RDA Toolkit included a few revisions to MLA’s Best Practices and the supplements.

BP now includes a recommendation to record the type of corporate body in all cases, whether or not the term is used as a qualifier in the authorized access point. Generally the LCSH term “Musical groups” for performing ensembles is used (note the use of the plural for “groups”) and the term’s source is recorded in subfield 2.

BP now includes guidance for cases of doubt as to whether the preferred name for a performing group conveys the idea of a corporate body. In such cases, an addition for the type of corporate body is made as instructed at RDA (and also RDA A qualifier such as “Musical group” in not added simply to bring out the musical aspect of the corporate body.

Supplement 1 now includes values for audio cartridge (e.g., 8-track) in the chart. Supplement 1 has also been revised to clarify the non-RDA terms to which “without $2 rda” applies.

The Best Practices are accessible only via the RDA Toolkit. The supplements are accessible via the MLA CMC website.

Thanks to all who were involved in this effort.

RDA Toolkit and MLA Best Practices update

The February 9, 2016 release of the RDA Toolkit included a variety of revisions to MLA’s Best Practices and the supplements.

 BP 1.7.5 now includes recommendations related to typographical devices used as separators (as in Colchester · Essex · England) and symbols that cannot be reproduced (such as the four symbols that form the title of Led Zeppelin’s otherwise untitled fourth album).

 BP now includes guidance applicable to scores bearing a stated voice range.

 BP now includes guidance for how to treat a phrase that introduces a medium of performance (as in “with an accompaniment for a violin”).

 BP now includes an example of an audio recording bearing a statement of responsibility for the performer and a separate statement of responsibility for the composers.

 BP 2.8.4 now includes guidance on when to treat a trade name as a series title instead of a label name.

 BP 2.15 now includes an example of a two-disc audio recording with consecutive numbers encoded in two separate 028 fields and an example of a two-disc audio recording that also has a truncated set number encoded in its own 028 field. AACR2 practitioners will recall that previous practice was to ignore a truncated set number (such as NI 5885/6) and only record the individual numbers (NI 5885 and NI 5886). Now all three numbers should be recorded in separate 028 fields utilizing $q.

 BP 3.16.4 and BP 3.19.3 and the supplements now clarify through examples that $2 rda should only be used in 3XX fields whose terms conform to vocabularies within RDA.

 In other chapter 3 news, the supplements now consistently show that the playing speed of a Blu-ray audio disc should be coded as “z” in 007/03. In the table of values and encodings for audio carriers, brackets have been removed for all terms. Most are now found in RDA, and the two that are not found in RDA (“Blu-ray audio” and “PVC”) are supplied without brackets and without $2 rda. Values and encodings have been added for streaming audio.

 BP 7.20 now contains guidance on encoding format of music (in 008/20 and 006/03) and music parts (in 008/21 and 006/04) as well as guidance applicable to a composer’s sketches. This BP now recommends utilizing the relatively new MARC field 348 to encode format of notated music once it has been approved for use in OCLC. Score catalogers should incorporate this into their workflow, taking advantage of constant data records and macros. While this will necessitate added effort on the part of score catalogers, implementation of the 348 field will make format of notated music immediately machine-actionable. This is a separate data element from the solely human-readable text strings recorded to satisfy the extent of notated music element in RDA 3.4.3, which itself is expected to be overhauled in the coming years. Stay tuned.

 BP now includes examples of different qualifiers used in the authorized access points for musical groups with the same name.

 Typos and other minor errors were corrected in both the BPs themselves (accessible only via the RDA Toolkit) and in the supplements (accessible via the MLA CMC website).

 Thanks to all who were involved in this effort.

RDA Toolkit and MLA Best Practices update

The October 13, 2015 release of the RDA Toolkit included minimal revisions to MLA’s Best Practices.

One revision affects 2.15.3 (Plate Number for Music). When a plate number on a score has an additional number (often after a dash) corresponding to the number of pages or plates, it is to be recorded as part of the plate number instead of ignored. The plate number may optionally also be recorded without this additional number. For example:

028 22 23009-11 $b Carl Fischer

028 20 23009 $b Carl Fischer

Further revision was done to 7.13.3 (Form of Musical Notation). The August release included new guidance about MARC encoding for multiple designations of form of musical notation as well as new examples. The October release adds new guidance covering details of form of musical notation as well as new examples. There is now sufficient guidance for cases such as chord symbols, chord diagrams, verbal instructions, etc.

Typos and various other errors were corrected both in the BPs themselves (accessible only via the RDA Toolkit) and in the supplements (accessible via the MLA CMC website).

Thanks to everyone who was involved in this effort.


The August release included new guidance for 3.16.3 (Recording Medium) that was not publicized. Recording medium (“optical,” “magnetic,” etc.) should now be recorded as applicable, in MARC 344 $b. As an example, the full array of 34X values for a typical CD with stereo playback is as follows:

344      digital $b optical $g stereo $2 rda

347      audio file $b CD audio $2 rda

RDA Toolkit and MLA Best Practices update

The August 11, 2015 update of the RDA Toolkit included some revisions to MLA’s Best Practices to bring it in line with revisions that were made to the RDA instructions in the April update. Some BPs have been deleted; some BPs have been relocated; some BPs have been renumbered and/or relabeled (see especially the 6.14.2 area); some BPs have been revised. A few additional revisions unrelated to the April update of the RDA instructions were also made to the BPs.

 Highlights of the August 11 update include improved guidance and examples for (Statement of Responsibility—Scope), 2.11 (Copyright Date), and 7.13.3 (Form of Musical Notation). The new guidance at does broaden the scope a bit, and the new guidance at 2.11 restores historic practice for recording the latest phonogram copyright date that can be determined to apply to a resource as a whole.

 Typos and various other errors were corrected both in the BPs themselves (accessible only via the RDA Toolkit) and in the supplements (accessible only via the MLA CMC website). A few new ones were introduced, too, but we’ll get ‘em next time!

 Thanks to everyone who was involved in this significant effort.

Two new MLA LCGFT resources available

The MLA Cataloging and Metadata Committee is pleased to announce the availability of two new resources for users of the new terms for music resources in the Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT):

1) MLA Best Practices for Using LCGFT for Music Resources (version 1.0).

This resource is intended to help catalogers apply LCGFT music terms in the interim period between the release of the terms and the publication of best practices for LCGFT in the forthcoming Library of Congress genre/form terms manual. It will be updated on an ongoing basis until the aforementioned manual is available. Suggested additions or questions may be directed to the Chair of the MLA-CMC, Vocabularies Subcommittee (Casey Mullin, casey@mullingroup.com) or the Chair of MLA-CMC (Beth Iseminger, beth.iseminger@gmail.com).

2) A hierarchical view of music terms in LCGFT.

By popular request, this document shows all of the currently-available LCGFT music terms in one linear hierarchical listing. Terms that overlap into other sections within LCGFT (e.g., general terms, literature terms) are also shown in those contexts. This resource is intended to complement the interactive environments–Classification Web, LC Authorities, LC Linked Data Service, OCLC Connexion–where LCGFT terms are already available.

As the music vocabulary within LCGFT grows and develops, this document will be updated as appropriate.

Both documents are available from this webpage: http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/page/cmc_genremediumproj


Casey Mullin

Chair, MLA-CMC Vocabularies Subcommittee

April 2015 RDA Toolkit update and MLA Best Practices

The April 14, 2015 update of the RDA Toolkit brought revisions to several RDA instructions that affect music cataloging. The revisions resulting from the work of ALA and the JSC Music Working Group are listed below. Stay tuned for possible revisions to MLA’s Best Practices (in the August 2015 Toolkit update) as a result of these changes.

As a result of numbering changes and other structural changes associated with these revisions in RDA, several areas in MLA’s Best Practices will be out of sync with RDA until the August 2015 Toolkit update. These are also listed below.

ALA/32: MLA and OLAC successfully advocated for expanding the scope of the statement of responsibility element in RDA Chapter 2. http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/6JSC-ALA-32-Sec-final-rev-3.pdf

ALA/36: MLA and OLAC successfully advocated for greater clarity in the instructions for recording duration in RDA Chapter 7. http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/6JSC-ALA-36-rev-Sec-final-rev.pdf

ALA/29 (on “not identified” elements in distribution and manufacture statements): Changes were made to the core element status of several elements in RDA 2.7-2.10, thus bringing an end to what has become known among practitioners as the “cascading vortex of horror.” http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/6JSC-ALA-29-rev-Sec-final-rev.pdf

MusicWG/4: Revisions to instructions for creating Access Points for Musical Expressions in 6.28.3. This proposal sought to liberalize and rationalize the creation of access points for expressions. http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/6JSC-MusicWG-4-rev-Sec-final-rev.pdf

MusicWG/5: Revisions to instructions for recording the information for scores and parts bound together in a single physical unit in RDA and http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/6JSC-MusicWG-5-rev-2-Sec-final.pdf

MusicWG/6: Revisions and reorganization of 6.14, Preferred Titles for Musical Works. The intent of the proposal was to make the process of determining a preferred title for musical works easier to comprehend. http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/6JSC-MusicWG-6-rev-Sec-final-rev.pdf

MusicWG/7: Abbreviations for the word “number” in part titles. The proposal codified in RDA the current and historical practice of abbreviating “number” or its equivalent in another language, or adding “number” or its equivalent to an unadorned number. http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/6JSC-MusicWG-7-rev-Sec-final-rev.pdf

MusicWG/8: Revisions to Conventional Collective Titles in and Glossary definitions for Conventional Collective Titles. The proposal removed the closed lists of terms for conventional collective titles and removed the Glossary definitions for these terms. http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/6JSC-MusicWG-8-rev-Sec-final-rev-2.pdf

MusicWG/9: Additional terms for Base Material and Applied Material in and The proposal added terms and definitions that would cover more of the physical characteristics of sound recordings. This proposal was folded into BL/16 which also revised these instructions. http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/6JSC-BL-16-Sec-final.pdf

Numbering/Linking/Captioning Changes Resulting from April Toolkit Update:

  • BP 0.2 should now be BP 0.3. Link is needed in RDA 0.3 to what would be BP 0.3.
  • BP 5.3 should now be BP 0.6.6. The link in the BP instruction text should be to LC-PCC PS 0.6.6.
  • BP should now be BP The caption should change to “Omissions.”
  • BP should now be BP
  • BP should now be BP
  • BP should now be BP The caption should change to “Complete Works for One Broad or Specific Medium.”
  • BP should now be BP The caption should change to “Complete Works of a Single Type of Composition for One Specific Medium or Various Media.”
  • BP should now be BP
  • BP caption should change to “Recording Duration.”
  • BP should now be BP The caption should change to “Duration of Component Parts.”

Deletes Needed Resulting from April Toolkit Update:

  • BP should be ignored, as the corresponding RDA instruction no longer exists.
  • BP should be ignored, as the corresponding RDA instruction no longer exists.
  • BP should be ignored.