National Discography

1. Background

The concept of national discography follows on naturally from the development of national bibliography (1) in the field of librarianship and documentation. This statement represents the IASA position on the benefits of national discography and provides guidelines to best practice for members who may have the responsibility for establishing this service in their country, who intend to establish this service, and who may be seeking funding. The concept of national discography (2) may have two aspects:

a. The systematic coverage of all current publications, year by year (in some countries benefiting from legal deposit)

b. Systematic retrospective coverage of all non-current publications.

2. Purpose of national discography

National discography provides for the documentation of the production and publication of phonograms (3) in a defined national or cultural area.

This activity delivers the following benefits:

a. it enables the selection of new acquisitions by collecting institutions, and supports compliance and registration procedures for legal deposit.

b. it provides an indication of the funding requirement for preservation programmes.

c. it sustains academic research by enabling access in libraries and archives, and by disseminating information about their holdings.

d. it publicises the activities of national phonogram industries, and stimulates the publication of re-issues.

e. it supports the marketing of local music and the administration of copyright.

3. Current / retrospective

Newly published product should be included as near to the date of publication as possible. Priority should be given to currently published output, but the overall aim should be to complete retrospective coverage where it is incomplete.

4. Coverage

A national discography should cover all phonographic production within the defined national or cultural area. It should include material commercially distributed within the area by publishers whose principal offices are not within the area. It may also include material of national or cultural relevance which falls outside the criteria of publication and distribution.(4)

5. Documentation standards

Policy in this area deals with the information to be recorded, not with the presentation or arrangement of data. The inclusion of data relating to composers/authors and works, performers, label, catalogue number, and date and place of recording, and the physical characteristics should be regarded as mandatory (5). International standards should be followed by the use of the IASA Cataloguing Rules (6), which are a development of AACR2 (7) to meet the requirements of sound recordings.

6. Availability and format

As a paper or CD-Rom product, national discography should be on sale to the public and freely available in libraries in a standardised format, e.g. UNIMARC (8). As an on-line database it should be searchable via the internet without payment. Whatever the format, it should be possible to search for information on specific known items, or for any items that conform to specified search criteria.

7. Responsibility for compilation should lie with the designated repository for legal deposit

In the absence of legal deposit provision, compilation may be undertaken by an institution comprehensively receiving material by voluntary deposit or by purchase, such as a national archive, library, or broadcaster.

8. Responsibility for dissemination does not necessarily lie with the compiler

The body responsible for compilation may also undertake publication, or it may make an arrangement with another agency for publication and dissemination. In any case the publisher should be entitled to make a charge for the downloading and use of the data in third-party databases.

Definitions and citations

1. A bibliography which lists all the books and other publications published, or distributed in significant quantity, in a particular country. Sometimes the term is used in respect to the new publications published within a specific period, and sometimes in respect to all those published within a lengthy period of many years. It is also used to indicate a bibliography of publications about a country (whether written by its nationals or not) and those written in the language of the country as well as those published in it. - Prytherch, Ray. Harrod's librarians' glossary. 8th ed. Aldershot, 1995.

2. A catalogue or similar listing of sound recordings in any format (cylinder, roll, disk [sic.], tape, CD etc.) giving full details of the item recorded (title, composer/author, performers, date etc.) and manufacturer's product number. - Prytherch, Ray. Harrod's librarians' glossary. 8th ed. Aldershot, 1995.

3. A physical carrier (typically a disc, or tape cassette) containing one or more sound recording(s) and offered for sale, or otherwise distributed.

4. The documentation of radio and other audiovisual materials will be the subject of a future IASA policy statement.

5. The matrix number is commonly a mandatory requirement in discography concerned with the coarse-groove era.

6. The IASA cataloguing rules: a manual for description of sound recordings and related audiovisual media. IASA, 1999. Online here.

7. Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. 2nd edition. Ottawa, etc., 1988.

8. Universal machine-readable catalogue - a standard format developed under the auspices of a Working Group of IFLA. UNIMARC specifies the tags, indicators and subfields to be assigned to bibliographic records in machine-readable form. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the international exchange of bibliographic data in machine-readable form between national agencies. - Prytherch, Ray. Harrod's librarians' glossary. 9th ed. Aldershot, 2000