Music, musicology, libraries: An intern's report

Anne-Marie Wurster

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

We just said farewell to our intern Anne-Marie Wurster, who spent five weeks with us here at the the RISM Central Office in Frankfurt. She has submitted this reflection of her time here:

At the intersection of musicology and librarianship - that’s right where I wanted to be. And that is how I decided to do an internship at the RISM Central Office in Frankfurt am Main. For five weeks this summer I was in Frankfurt and learned about the different aspects of day-to-day work. Dr. Martina Falletta, who is in charge of the internship program, put together various activities that gave me insight into all areas of RISM. After a short training phase I was able to complete tasks independently. This included adding catalog of works numbers, locations, and copyists to the Kallisto and Muscat (series A/1) databases - after checking of course that the information was still true - and adding new works of secondary literature to the database. I also did research for some of the Central Office staff, such as when I gathered literature about the identity of Antonio Rosetti. Learning about public relations work using Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and the website was also part of the program - which for a social media grump like myself was not without its merits.

One of my favorite tasks was using Plaine & Easie Code to transcribe incipits from digitized manuscripts and enter them into Kallisto. Here I concentrated on Georg Philipp Telemann and Johann Erasmus Kindermann. The digitized manuscripts were from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz.

Moreover, I got an overview of the databases of personal names, keywords/genre terms, and library sigla. I even got to create a new siglum for a Spanish library that was not yet in RISM: E-Mrae (Real Academia Española - Biblioteca y Archivo, Madrid).

Martina Falletta arranged visits to the library of the Frankfurt Opera and the offices of the Gluck Gesamtausgabe, so I could use my stay in Frankfurt find out about other interesting projects.

A project that the RISM Central Office is currently busy with is evaluating the user survey, which was carried out last winter/spring. In addition to creating a list of technical improvements for the RISM online catalog that were suggested by survey takers, we prepared a presentation for the AIBM conference in Stuttgart about initial results and changes we have undertaken so far.

Attending this conference for music librarians from Germany and neighboring German-speaking countries provided a harmonious ending to my internship and was one of the highlights. First, the city of Stuttgart introduced itself and its rich musical life and included presentations from the Stuttgart Opera, the Hymnus Chorknaben, the Labyrinth integration project and the music label TACET. There was a presentation about the library and information science program at the Hochschule der Medien in Stuttgart and its certificates and continuing education programs in the field of music librarianship. The varied AIBM program had something for everyone, whether from a public, academic, conservatory, radio, or orchestra library. Librarians reported on their day-to-day work and gave tips on topics such as how to make libraries more welcoming for seniors or people with visual disabilities.

Digitization projects were presented during the session for academic libraries, including the very detailed Detmold Court Theater project, the Hofkirche & Königliche Privat-Musikaliensammlung project from Dresden, and VDLied, a digital register of song pamphlets in German, in which libraries from Berlin, Freiburg, and Vienna are participating. This last project is also relevant to RISM because an opportunity exists here for fruitful collaboration. The Dresden project already uses Kallisto and the RISM online database benefits from the many new incipits, personal names, and writing samples that are added. The Detmold project uses already-existing RISM records but creates a much further-reaching network that includes information on salaries, performance dates, individual parts from a score, and the like. Further plans include adding to and refining the RISM data. In this session it became very clear to me that cataloging with precision and detail at the library can speed up the growth of the RISM database and improve its contents.

The conference closed its formal program with an intensive panel that concerned the changeover from the German RAK cataloging rules to RDA. One new aspect is that RDA consistently differentiates between a manifestation - the physical embodiment of a work - and the work itself - the intellectual creation, independent of material format. To this comes the expression level, which can include performers or translators. The German National Library (DNB) is currently running comprehensive training on RDA. A special module for music librarians is available. The public music libraries in particular still see some challenges, such as with genre terms. The DNB assures us that these areas, which have found some criticism, can still be improved. The DNB itself has been cataloging exclusively with RDA since October 1, 2015.

During the breaks and at a reception there were opportunities to talk to people from various libraries and areas of concentration. The pleasant, open atmosphere was a welcome surprise and I could make a few interesting new contacts.

All in all, I am very happy about the experiences that I had during my internship. I learned about composers and works that had previously been completely unknown to me and it was exciting to see how the work of a project with networks worldwide goes forward. I spent ample time cataloging music in the database and got to know a lot of interesting people in the process. I also saw that it is very wise to have a background in both musicology and librarianship. Both fields together are a perfect combination and open up a wide world of career possibilities.

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