“Did you guys get a lot more world music this summer?” is a question I heard from a patron this afternoon. Nope, we just reorganized!

Now that the school year is in full swing, and students are checking out CDs on a regular basis, we’ve had some feedback. I’ve had several people come up to me and thank me for reclassifying the CDs, or (like the example above) note how much more of a genre we own than they previously thought, or tell me that ANSCR works so much better for them than before.

It’s especially nice since most haven’t been people I’ve spoken to much before. There’s been some confusion from patrons who were very familiar with the former system, but after all the hard work it’s nice to see ANSCR being put to good use!

FINISHED (mostly)

We finished* on time! Working tirelessly, Maggie and I (and with help from some of my other student workers, having returned) labeled and reshelved day and night and finished just in time for Music classes to start.

Handel operas at the SLC Music Library

Can you handle all the Handel operas shelved together? These would have been scattered all over the library before this project

Surprisingly, we ended up with far more space than we expected. The biggest worry of this project was running out of space. Keeping with the policies of the Main Library, we removed all duplicate CDs this summer, and moved a couple of large boxed sets from the shelves to behind the circ desk with the other boxed sets. The end result being more shelf space than we began with! Not including the extra shelves built.

Students and faculty alike are already perusing the shelves and finding items they didn’t know we had. I’m very much looking forward to seeing any changes in the circulation counts and also in our annual library survey in February.

*The project isn’t 100% complete, but it’s at a stage where patrons can check out items. I still have to go back and edit the MARC records, but I’m no longer pressed for time. I also expect to be consistently working to streamline organization, making sure we don’t have duplicate call numbers and so on.

Quick update

As with many projects, time became a MUCH bigger issue than initially expected. That plus a minor bout with carpal tunnel left me too busy to update!

The new semester starts on Monday, and we’re almost done with the second to last stage, labeling. We have roughly 1000 CDs left to go, but we get through them at a rapid pace.

After that, they need to be shelved in the new order. As we label them, we’ve been putting them in the new genre categories so it won’t be as bad to shelve them. Happy Labor day, everyone!

Major problem detected: 098/900 fields

I’ve edited about 50 of the records in Koha to now reflect their new ANSCR numbers, and the head of Tech Services stumbled upon a major problem.

Two of the fields in the MARC records still have the wrong numbers, the 092 field and 900 fields. Non-librarians won’t know what MARC records are or why they matter, but the link above will give a quick answer.

So far, I’ve been editing the call numbers only in the item record:

Example of item record edit screen in Koha

Example of item record edit screen in Koha. Click for larger image

This means our current workflow is to:

  1. Copy a bib number to pull up a record
  2. click edit record
  3. copy the call number from the spreadsheet,
  4. then edit the Holdings record,

and then we can move on. This works fine for Koha, the new number displays instantly in the OPAC for people to look up.

However, if we migrate to a new system at some point, we’d suddenly notice all the call numbers would revert back to the old ones. Why? Because that’s how the MARC record, the core record, still has it down.

Example of a MARC editing screen in Koha

Example of a MARC editing screen in Koha. Click to enlarge

The current call number is listed in the 092 field, which is for a locally assigned (as opposed to officially assigned) Dewey Decimal number. ANSCR, being definitively different from Dewey, can’t even go into the 092 field. We need a new one, the 098 field for “Other Classification Schemes.” Next the 942 field would need to be changed from saying “Library of Congress Classification” (which was incorrect regardless for our CDs) to ANSCR.

Our Systems Librarian first needs to make the 098 field display in Koha, but he’s on vacation until mid-August. Also, this adds significant extra time to editing each record, which we do not have to spare. So I’ve made the decision to edit the MARC record later, during the school year, on my own. As long as the new call numbers display correctly in the catalog, and we’re not migrating in the next few months, I’ll be fine changing them after. It’ll also allow me to double check and make sure call numbers are correct for the records.

It could be a much bigger problem, but this just goes to show how difficult it is to accurately predict all the extra time a project can take when first planning it.

Phase 1 Complete!

As of 10 minutes ago, I’ve finished assigning new call numbers in my Excel sheet. Student Worker Maggie started at the opposite end, and we met at CD 3108 in the middle. I’m incredibly grateful for her help with this.

Eliminating duplicate CDs has saved us two and a half full rows, roughly 500 CDs worth. We add about 100 CDs in a year, so this is great news.

Although we’re a bit behind schedule, the next parts are not quite so laborious. Starting tomorrow, we first examine the call numbers, and then put the numbers into our catalog, Koha. Since this is mostly just copy/pasting, it shouldn’t take very long.

By mid-August, we should be in the labeling/moving phase. I think we’ll end up having to edge the moving phase a bit into the school year, but by the time classes start we should be done. Phew!

Subdividing Chamber Music

Since I’ve been working with ANSCR, F-Chamber Music has been one of the most active areas. As a result, I wonder if subdividing it similar to Orchestral or Solo music would be useful.

However, whenever one deviates from the norm, some problems are sure to arise:

  • Time! I’m already behind progress, so do I have the time to do it
  • Duets – many duets are under “solo instrumental music” and the definition of duet vs. accompaniment can be hazy
  • No extant rules for these new areas, making this potentially more challenging for someone following

The first issue I can solve by making this a winter break project if I don’t have time in the summer. If I cut out duets for now, I can easily move things around, since more space won’t be needed.

The rules would most likely stay the same as normal for chamber music, they’d just be more nicely organized. I’m thinking of these potential subdivisions, but figuring out a good mnemonic use of letters proves challenging:

  • FA – Chamber music, general or mixed groups
  • (FD – Duets?)
  • FT – Trios (Using T makes sense, but then alphabetically it would fall after Q! Numbers are out of the question)
  • FQ – Quartets
  • FU – Quintets (I see the obvious problem here, using U, but I can’t use Q again, nor a number, nor an extra letter, but I want it to follow quartets. There is also a precedent for slightly humorous call numbers – bible studies in Library of Congress all start with BS!)
  • FX – ensembles of 6 or more
What I’ll most likely do is wait until Chamber Music director Sung-Rai Sohn returns for the summer, have a chat with him, and see what he thinks. Something to think about


I’ll admit, I’m much better working with words or music than with visuals. So I’ve been hemming and hawing about which is the best way to display these new call numbers in our catalog.

For our Library of Congress holdings, a call number looks like PN1997 .A18 2002 or ML403 .H57 2002. On a label, it displays like:

LC call number

LC call number

I have no questions about how the physical label should look – that part’s easy.

Sample ANSCR call number

The label for Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” in ANSCR

But the catalog display is trickier. How should I separate each term? My options are, with links to example records of each:

A couple of these are fairly easy to eliminate. Slashes can look too close to I’s to some people, and hyphens are used already in case of multiple names (ie SCHUM-W for William Schuman or BACH-C for CPE Bach).

I want them to be easily distinguished from the Main Library’s LoC call numbers, but also readable. Which should I choose?

Jazz and blues: together or separate?

This is the opposite of the problem I have with the F: Chamber Music and G: Solo Instrumental Music sections not being specific enough (related to the Bang on a Can issue).

In ANSCR, jazz is technically a subheading of M: Popular music. As are MD: Big Band music and MB: Blues/Rhythm and blues/soul. It’s important to note that MB and MD are NOT part of the original ANSCR, but pop up from a lot of other libraries who felt more of a distinction was necessary.

Herein lies part of the problem of deviating from the original: I have no supporting documentation to help me ascertain what the qualifications are for these newer areas. We have a smaller amount of big band music, using only CDs with the library of congress subject heading “Big band music”. We have maybe 36 CDs that have that heading, and most also have a “Jazz” heading, too.

Jazz or blues

Where do we go? Jazz, or blues??

However, we have about 80 CDs with the subject heading “Blues (music)” so there’s a much bigger argument there for having a separate Blues section. Maggie already completed the reclassifying (in the excel document) of the current jazz section, and her knowledge of Blues was very helpful when the subject headings weren’t enough.

I’m not going to get into a discussion of blues as a form versus genre, since that would take too long to examine for each CD, which is why we’ve been focusing on using subject headings to make our judgments.

As always, this comes down to choosing the best method to both mirror and guide patrons in their manner of searching. With separate blues and jazz performance groups on campus, I think having different sections makes sense.

Why ANSCR? Part 2

As I stated in my previous post, I still need to explain why I chose ANSCR over Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal.

Music Classification Systems

Mark McKnight‘s 2002 book Music Classification Systems (Scarecrow Press and Music Library Association, Music Manual Series, No. 1) has been infinitely helpful to me in making this decision throughout the past year.

As McKnight notes, most music libraries organize their collections using a few primary systems:

  • Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC)
  • Library of Congress Classification (LCC)
  • Accession number (i.e., most recently bought CD is the last one)
  • Arrangement by broad subject area
  • and ANSCR

Read More…

Calculating time

So far, one of the greatest challenges of this project has nothing to do with the ANSCR system itself. It has to do with planning, which brings up many questions:

  • How do I evaluate the amount of time I need for this project?
  • How long should I stay on one phase before I need to move to another?
  • and what happens if I can’t finish before the semester starts?
Music Library Clock

Time ticks away on ye olde Music Library clock

To recap, so far we’ve classified about 1500 CDs out of approximately 4,450, meaning we have just about 2,900 to go before the end of August. Now that Maggie is here and the Music Library is closed to the public, we’ve increased our classification speed, but I still need to take breaks and do other work (like revising our Collection Development policy, writing an Annual Report, going to meetings, etc.)

With that in mind, I need to come up with a somewhat accurate method of gauging the time required to finish what we have. We still need to:

  1. classify the remaining CDs
  2. make a shelf map
  3. put the classification numbers into Koha
  4. print out and affix labels
  5. and then shelve all the CDs

With a very motivated and hardworking staff member like Maggie here, I am fairly certain we can finish this project in the remaining 12.5 weeks, but I don’t doubt I’ll be staying late some days to make sure we’ll have enough time.