Latest Update on Cataloging (3/1/2021)
Those of you who’ve been following the Moravian Music Foundation for some time will be aware of the ongoing GemeinKat project – converting the more-than-50,000 cards in our card catalog to electronic, online records accessible world-wide!
We actually started planning this project and doing some work “in the background” almost 15 years ago, but it was only seven years ago that we were able to move “full-speed-ahead” with the project. It was fall of 2014 when Barbara Strauss and Dave Blum joined our staff to tackle this project, and now we can’t imagine the Foundation without them!
Great strides have been made, and we’re looking both backwards and forwards to see what we’ve done, and what remains to be done. By far the majority of the cataloging work is complete, but both Dave and Barbara are in the throes of completing some large collections.
Why, you wonder, if the collection was already cataloged on cards, is it taking so long? It’s because they’re not just converting existing information to online records; they’re updating and enhancing the information through research that wasn’t available fifty years ago. Dave and Barbara have been able to identify a great many pieces that were previously listed as “anonymous” or “unidentified”; they’ve moved a few things around to get all the parts to a piece together; and all in all the project has greatly enhanced the body of knowledge about Moravian music!
Watch for updates about the fruits of this project – it’s far more than just stuff on the World Wide Web!
-Nola R. Knouse
There are many, many steps to this project, and the results are growing in three areas:
- GemeinKat is an online catalog, which includes records for all manuscript and printed music under custodial care of the Moravian Music Foundation. It is a component part of OCLC’s WorldCat Discovery family of online catalogs.
- RISM: The International Inventory of Musical Sources – Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) – is an international, non-profit organization which aims for comprehensive documentation of extant musical sources worldwide. These primary sources are manuscripts or printed music, writings on music theory, and libretti. They are housed in libraries, archives, monasteries, schools and private collections. Cataloging musical sources is financed and carried out by various national and international institutions. RISM documents what exists and where it is kept. RISM documents reside in the RISM catalogue.
- Finding aids describe a wide range of formats, including card indexes, calendars, guides, inventories, shelf and container lists, and registers. A finding aid is a single document that places the materials in context by consolidating information about the collection, such as acquisition and processing; provenance, including administrative history or biographical note; scope of the collection, including size, subjects, media; organization and arrangement; and an inventory of the series and the folders.
You can access GemeinKat right from this web page – start here… and follow the links.
Barbara Strauss has been GemeinKat Project Manager since December of 2014, but her involvement predates that by many years. A specialist in catalog conversion projects, Barbara has been leading the MMF staff and board in setting the vision and seeking funds for this project for nearly 20 years now, and it is a wonderful experience to see it coming true. She works with Project Cataloger (and now MMF Research Librarian) Dave Blum, setting project strategies, training and supervising part-time catalogers and incipit writers (we have 3 now – Jill Bruckart and Jan Harke in Bethlehem, Donna Rothrock in Winston-Salem; we have had quite a few more over the years, some of whom began as student interns and just stayed around!), and providing the long-term vision of the entire project. As of early in 2019, we have completed the cataloging of nearly all the major collections and a number of the smaller collections; incipits have been written for the majority of the Bethlehem holdings and a number of the Winston-Salem holdings; and I am faithfully writing the text of the finding aids.
An expected consequence is an increase in the number of research requests – and that’s happening indeed! For many researchers today, the thought of traveling to a library or archives just to see what they have is inconceivable; so that if it’s not accessible online, it’s often pretty well overlooked by many students and scholars. As we continue to bring more collections online, Dave is getting more requests – and that’s a good thing, as the Moravian Music Foundation continues to preserve, share, and celebrate Moravian musical culture!
For those who have contributed to GemeinKat, we thank you very, very much! We are still seeking contributions to help us reach the finish line of this very, very important project in MMF’s history and future!
The Moravian Music Foundation preserves, shares, and celebrates Moravian musical culture.