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Eric Bartheld
Herman B Wells Library

Last modified: Thursday, September 18, 2008

IU receives national grant for digital music

Sept. 18, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Digital Library Program received a federal grant of $481,987 to demonstrate the benefits of an emerging form of cataloging using IU's vast collections of sound recordings and scores at the William and Gayle Cook Music Library.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums, announced the National Leadership Grant Wednesday.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of this project," said Phil Ponella, director of the William and Gayle Cook Music Library and Music Information Technology Services at the IU Jacobs School of Music. "Providing access to music materials in library catalogs, even in today's age of computers, remains tricky. This grant promises to provide new and better ways to find music in our libraries, and will ultimately enhance the abilities of our students and faculty to do their work. It is the perfect complement to the work we have accomplished in recent years in the area of digital music libraries."

Responding to a challenge by the Library of Congress to test standards in the way libraries catalog and describe materials with multiple formats, IU's Digital Library Program will provide the nationwide library community a real-world case for testing and evaluation.

The promise of the new cataloging model -- called Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) -- lies in its ability to identify relationships in library collections. For example, by tying together different editions and formats of books, this new model will make it easier for library users to find what they need quickly. The model will also more effectively connect different performances and arrangements of musical works.

"This is a conceptual model for the library catalogs of the future. The goal is better searching," says metadata librarian Jenn Riley, project director of the grant. "We're pleased to be one of the first to show its benefits in practice."

The results will be of interest to those planning next-generation library catalogs and specialized music libraries as well as music information researchers. It will also improve access to the university's world-class music collections.

"This grant points to the expertise and leadership of IU's librarians," says Ruth Lilly University Dean of Libraries Pat Steele. "We're working to create innovative systems that will be used by the library community nationally for the ultimate benefit of researchers."

The grant builds on the leadership of Indiana University in the field of digital library research and development. By applying the new model to Variations, IU's digital music library software system that provides online access to streaming audio and score images, users will have greater success in locating music materials. Additionally, because of this grant, IU's descriptive information about all scores and recordings in the William and Gayle Cook Music Library will be shared with developers worldwide.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services funded the Variations3 project to develop and deploy the Variations software at the other universities. Part of that work included conducting research on a music metadata model and search system centered on the notion of the musical work, which improves the music search experience for users over traditional catalog systems.

IU was one of 44 recipients of National Leadership Grants (NLG), totaling $18.2 million. The largest museum and library joint grant program administered by IMLS, National Leadership Grants support projects that will advance the ability of museums and libraries to preserve culture, heritage and knowledge while enhancing learning.