RISM for Libraries

RISM has a long tradition of working with libraries. We would like to strengthen our ties by offering the following services.

Reference & Instruction

Brochures: We will gladly send you copies of our brochure outlining the RISM project at no charge. It is available in English with translations in Chinese, German, Russian, and Spanish. For more information, see Publications.

Citing RISM in publications: Our recommendations for citing RISM in scholarly publications, whether print or online.

Guides to the RISM Catalog: We have created some guides to the RISM Catalog about various topics. They are linked on opac.rism.info’s Help page.

Also look at past IAML congresses for slides relating to using RISM (also on the IAML website).

Live demonstrations: A member of the RISM Editorial Center can conduct a free, web-based demonstration on several topics related to RISM, in English or German. This is an ideal way for librarians, faculty, or students to become acquainted with RISM and learn how to use RISM’s publications for research. Contact us to schedule a demonstration. Possible topics include:

  • An overview of the RISM project
  • Tutorial of the RISM Catalog and RISM Online (manuscripts and printed music)
  • Introduction to Muscat, RISM’s cataloging program, and how libraries can participate in RISM

Logos: Logos are available below for download or for direct copying and pasting onto your library’s website. Right-click on the image to either copy it or save it as a local file.

Poster: This RISM poster (PDF) summarizes the project and goals (optimized for printing on DIN A1 paper size).

Reviews of RISM: RISM’s publications have been reviewed in the scholarly literature. See the RISM bibliography for exact citations.

Text for your website: Descriptions of RISM publications are available on the RISM website under Publications. You are free to use the text there for your own library websites.

Cataloging Tools

Plaine & Easie Code

The Plaine & Easie Code for encoding music incipits is maintained by the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML) and RISM for use as an exchange format in the library environment. It is used in MARC21 field 031. A tutorial can be found here.

RISM’s records can be searched at no cost through two different but complementary resources, the RISM Catalog and RISM Online.

RISM Catalog

VIAF: RISM’s authority records for personal names are included in VIAF (Virtual International Authority File).

Library of Congress Authority File: The official Corporate Name Heading from the Library of Congress Authority File is RISM (Organization). The LC control number is n 88603147.

OCLC record for the RISM Catalog: Download this record from OCLC for the RISM Catalog so that your library users can find the free catalog: OCLC #913332994

Standard citation form in cataloging: The official form of RISM from the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section is RISM (Répertoire international des sources musicales). When citing RISM in the 510 of a catalog record, cite the RISM ID number from the online database whenever possible (initial zeros may be omitted). Permalinks can also be included. Use references from A/I and B/I to refer to the books only. The 510 can be repeated to include references to both the online RISM database and the books.

As an example, these records from the Princeton University Library cite the A/I number as well as the record in the RISM Catalog. In the public view, the links in $u point the user directly to the entry in the RISM Catalog using the English interface.

Example 1: Giaches de Wert, Il secondo libro de madregali a cinque voci:
(Public view / Staff view)


Example 2: Giovanni Bononcini, Cantate e duetti:
(Public view / Staff view)


Not everything from the books is in the RISM electronic database (see the Publications page for an overview). For the recommended form of citing an item from any given RISM publication, please see the Table of RISM Citation Styles, which includes A/I, every volume in the B series, and the RISM database.

Many thanks to our contributors from the RISM US working group for their assistance in developing these tools.

Using RISM Data

RISM records may be used and reused in a variety of projects. The RISM data is available as open data and linked open data, through SRU servers and an API, in MARC21 and MARC XML format, and through GND BEACON files. You can also transfer your data to the RISM database, use the data to create a custom display, or create a PDF catalog suitable for publication. Please see our Data Services page for more information.

RISM Logos




Our motto…
Knowing what exists
and where it is kept

…lives through the exchange of information. Join the RISM Community and learn how you can contribute to the project.