RISM Projects While Working from Home

Monday, September 14, 2020

With Coronavirus restrictions still in place to varying degrees around the world, not everyone has been able to return to their library or archive to work at full capacity. We have a few suggestions for those of you who are looking for projects that can be carried out from home that involve your library’s holdings in RISM.

To find out what your library has in RISM, search using your library siglum in the RISM online catalog’s Advanced Search under Library siglum. (To find your library’s siglum, use the Directory of RISM Library Sigla.)

Or, add your library’s siglum to the end of this direct link (without quotation marks):



Plan a RISM inventory project
Kirstin Dougan Johnson recently published an article detailing how she compared her library’s printed holdings with those reported in RISM:

Kirstin Dougan Johnson, “Unravelling the RISM Riddle at the University of Illinois: An Inventory and Analysis.” Fontes Artis Musicae 67, no. 2 (April-June 2020): 119-142. Currently free online.

By examining the holdings in the RISM online catalog and comparing them with her library’s catalog and other internal inventories, she was able to develop a workflow to verify that her university’s rare printed editions are in RISM and vice versa. In the course of this process, new holdings are coming to light and omissions can be corrected. Her article outlines the steps needed for a successful inventorying project. Searching your library’s siglum in RISM and comparing the results with your library’s catalog is a good way to start.

Add links to digitized sources
The number of digitized collections has exploded in recent years. RISM records can link to digital surrogates of the sources being described (example: RISM ID no. 464000684). Our users benefit from direct access to the sources through a simple click, either by filtering for digitized sources in the catalog search or clicking the link in the records.

Update your shelfmarks
Many items in RISM are without shelfmarks (especially printed editions) or include shelfmarks that have changed since the record was created. Up-to-date shelfmarks help researchers and librarians locate a source found in RISM.

Add music incipits to your records
Music incipits aid in the identification of sources and composers, and they are searchable in the online catalog. Incipits can be added to music manuscripts as well as printed editions that your library holds. Adding incipits can easily be done using digitized sources.

Add your holdings to printed editions
The main RISM inventories of printed music, A/I for single-composer editions and B/I and B/II for anthologies, are several decades old. Has your library acquired pre-1800 printed editions in recent memory? Does RISM know about it? It is easy to report new holdings to RISM.

More ambitious projects
New contributors are always welcome to launch more involved RISM projects, including creating new records or revising old records.

Next steps
The Central Office is happy to assist on any aspect of these projects. 

Automated processes can be arranged to update certain fields, such as importing a spreadsheet of links or new shelfmarks.

We can also grant access to our internal cataloging program, Muscat, to edit individual records. The program and training are free.

Please contact us and we will work with you to find the best solution.


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All news posts are by RISM Editorial Center staff unless otherwise noted. Reuse of RISM’s own texts is permitted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. In all other cases, please contact the individual author.