July 1994 Number 60
ISSN 1549-8948 (online)
Spring Meeting Reports Supplement
Note: The online and printed editions of this newsletter may differ in content.
Multiculturalism and the Music Collection. Sounds like a great topic for a meeting-timely, stimulating, even exciting! But what is it? When faced with such a broad topic, one wonders how such a question might be answered in one presentation or in one meeting. How about three or four?
The purpose of today's meeting is to ask questions and to discuss concepts in whatever ways are most beneficial for us. In general, this meeting will be an overview centered around the experiences that individuals have had in our profession-issues they face and problems they confront. I suspect that we shall come up with few answers and many more questions than we had at the start, thus fueling some topics for future meetings!
So, we return to the question: what is multiculturalism? A careful look at the definitions in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary left me more confused than enlightened. Does multiculturalism simply pertain "to a society consisting of varied cultural groups?" What does this mean? Doesn't the real context of our world require a more complex understanding of the term? Going further, under the definition of "culture" we read "the civilization, customs, artistic achievements, especially of a people, especially at a certain stage of its development or history." Does a combination of the two definitions sum up all that multiculturalism is? How do religious, political, and philosophical ideas impact the concept of multiculturalism? And most importantly, how do all of these notions pertain specifically to the music collection?
I am no expert in this area of discussion, and the aforementioned questions are my questions. And I am sure that together, we shall have many more. It is likely that the concept of multiculturalism is and will be different for each individual here today, and I hope that through our willingness to share and discuss, we shall leave today better educated than when we came. In order to give us a "jump start," I would like all of us to reflect on the following questions, which we shall revisit later this afternoon.
- Do I presently have a multicultural music collection? How and why?
- Who is the community I serve? How do I define community and how is my collection reflective of it?
- How do I define multiculturalism?
- How is multiculturalism in music different from ethnomusicology?
- Is multiculturalism defined as a number of distinct ethnic and cultural musical styles and types existing in various subcultures within our society?
- Is true multiculturalism a concept that ignores separateness of sub-cultures and accepts a crossover of musical styles and tastes into every subculture group? Or does each subculture deserve its own distinctive grouping, apart from othersubcultures? How do we create a music collection to reflect our definition?
Session: "Nuts and Bolts-Concepts and Construction"
Entitled "Nuts and Bolts-Concepts and Construction," the first morning session focused on the practical side of the multiculturalism and the music library by addressing collection development, cataloging, and acquisitions.
Leslie Andersen opened with an overview of audio-visual collection development at the Norwalk Regional Library, one of the five regional libraries in Los Angeles County charged with this responsibility. Collecting materials for her library as well as the network of twenty smaller, community-based libraries in an area extending from Compton to Orange County, Leslie focuses on broad, highly diverse, and relevant collections. In these libraries, the primary demand for music is in the format of audio- visual materials and not scores. The goal is not to make the libraries alternative video stores by simply collecting feature films and mass market recordings (which are easy to obtain), but to concentrate on nonfiction ethnic materials in English and a variety of languages including Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Hindi, Gujarati, and Tagalog (among others) to help patrons maintain emotional links to their culture while attaining knowledge of English as a second language. Collection development via multicultural catalogs has proven extremely difficult. There is an ethnic materials evaluator for the county library system, but with an area composed of 87 libraries, it is impossible for one person to know the needs of the individual communities, many of which are changing fast. The most effective means of collection development of ethnic materials has been to use staff or pages fluent in the language and familiar with the area to accompany the librarian to video and recording stores to locate hard-to-find nonfiction materials. Proprietors of the stores have offered willing and invaluable help. Leslie would like more choices, but the heavily used collections and grateful patrons reflect the success of her approach.
Kathy Glennan then turned to the question of what to do with the ethnic materials once they are acquired by the library. An abbreviated version of her talk follows.
The Impact of Multicultural Materials on Music Cataloging
How do multicultural items impact the cataloging process? Key issues arise in three areas: subject headings, classification, and description.
Libraries in the United States use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) to provide subject access to their materials. LCSH is always evolving, with new subject headings developed and older headings revised or deleted as the Library of Congress encounters discrete, identifiable concepts that are not already represented in the list. Catalogers at LC propose changes based on literary warrant and current American usage, weighing currency against faddish terms. The mission is to reflect and not to set trends, and the process of developing new subject headings is detailed and time-consuming-in the Library of Congress Subject Cataloging Manual, Subject Headings, there are 22 pages addressing the "Preparation of Subject Heading Proposals," with an additional nine pages explaining the requirements for "Authority Research for Subject Heading Proposals."
If your library's music collection differs from LC's in either acquisitions or cataloging priorities, you will find times when nothing in LCSH accurately captures the topic represented in the work in hand. Particularly germane to today's topic of multiculturalism is the fact that LC does not collect heavily in the areas of popular and ethnic music. Here are some options for providing subject access when encountering the absence of appropriate subject terms: 1) create a new subject heading, based on a pattern appearing in an existing LCSH entry; 2) create a new subject heading, consulting the same authority sources that LC uses; 3) use terms in an established thesaurus; or, 4) use a less specific heading that appears in LCSH. If you follow any of the non-LCSH options, selecting the appropriate MARC coding for your local system is critical. There may be significant differences in indexing and retrieval for fields 690 (local subject added entry) or 650 with second indicator 4 (subject added entry with unspecified source).
Classification represents subject access in a hierarchical structure that traditionally serves two purposes: a shelving location and a means to collocate related materials. The primary classification schemes used in the United States are the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) and the Dewey Decimal Classification.
Each schedule in the LCC was developed separately, specifically for the material in LC's collection. The M schedule easily accommodates Western art music, but it is not so well- suited to the ethnic areas underdeveloped in the LC music collection. Libraries using LCC have very few options if no appropriate number exists in the schedule: either use a general number; or assign a number which conveys part of the subject matter. Based largely on literary warrant, changes or additions to the LCC classification schedules is a slow-moving process.
The DDC is a systematic attempt to classify all knowledge. Classification specialists at LC maintain the DDC and changes are based on user need and demand. The process of change may take a long time: the complete revision of the 780 music schedule took fifteen years from the initial work to its publication in DDC 20. Some of the innovations in DDC 20 include the use of the Sachs- Hornbostel fourfold classification of musical instruments and a higher reliance on faceting, which allows for the combination of multiple concepts into one precise string-such as left-handed bell ringing. With the changes in the 20th edition, DDC is quite flexible in treating all types of music materials.
Libraries have a few other options for shelf arrangement, especially for non-print materials. ANSCR, a classification system designed for sound recordings, is popular with small and public libraries. Accession numbers are a common choice for non-print materials, since they solve the problem of where to shelve a sound recording that contains multiple works for various sized ensembles by several composers.
Challenges may also arise in the area of description, especially if the cataloger has little knowledge of the specific subject area or no working knowledge of the language-or both. At USC, this problem arises with the Armenian music collection and the Polish music reference center. In such situations, the cataloger's options include: 1) using reference tools; 2) working out a deal with other library staff members who have the necessary expertise; 3) recruiting volunteers from the community (an option to approach with caution); or, 4) contract cataloging (outsourcing). Catalogers should approach the option of community volunteers with caution: control is difficult, and cultural attachments to the materials may clash with collection development policies. Several companies provide contract cataloging services, both locally and nationally. Pricing of these services depends on several factors, including number of titles, formats, languages, and classification schemes and subject headings used.
As with most cataloging issues, there are no simple answers about how to solve the situations detailed above. However, keep in mind one tried-and-true approach: just add the difficult items to the backlog and wait for another library to catalog them!
Veteran Los Angeles music vendor Theodore Front then followed with an eloquent, inspiring address that provided the highlight of the meeting for many in attendance. The complete text follows.
Multiculturalism and the Music Dealer
I come here as a listener more than a speaker, and thus I can be brief. You, the community of music librarians, must address the problems listed in Leslie Andersen's introduction and the series of discussion questions, ultimately within each library. My function as a music dealer remains what it has always been: not just a passive order taker, but an active participant, thinking along and parallel with you, always searching for new sources of information and of supply while explaining limitations and difficulties-a partner who does not only react to your needs, but who has the symbiotic insight to anticipate them.
When I started my business 33 years ago, the term multiculturalism probably appeared in larger dictionaries, but it did not exist in my thinking, and probably not in anyone else's. Yet I knew that there was more to music than the three B's. During the twelve years I lived in New York before moving to Los Angeles, I was fortunate in having a friendly association with the great Curt Sachs, one of the pioneers of ethnomusicology (which was then still called vergleichende Musikwissenschaft-i.e., comparative musicology). From Sachs, more than from anyone else, I learned to think of music in world-wide terms, and I have followed that concept ever since. Now I realize that I am still talking of ethnomusicology, and one of the questions you are going to discuss is precisely the difference between ethnomusicology and multiculturalism. Here again, the answer, if there is a clear-cut one, should not and indeed cannot come from me. Yet, I cannot help having thought about it. One thing is obvious: both are closely related. All the cultural-including musical-streams and streamlets that have entered this country came from somewhere outside, eventually modified while interacting with others, becoming in the best of cases part of the main stream (jazz, for example), while in other cases neglected to the point of becoming endangered species.
Whatever, then, our definition of multiculturalism is, one thing is sure for me and certainly for you: especially in music, it must be a means for uniting and not dividing us. It must inspire self-knowledge and, yes, pride; and starting from there, knowledge and appreciation of our neighbor, enriching ourselves by what others have to offer in the processes of exchanging, appropriating, and blending. I liked what I heard on KCRW the other day while driving to work: multiculturalism is recognizing yourself in the person most different from you.
So it boils down to knowing and learning more about the music of our neighbors and its cultural background-and ideally, our neighbors comprise the world. At the same time minority groups, before learning about others, want to know about and enjoy their own heritage, passing it down to the next generation before it becomes lost in the process of assimilation. Here we run into the problem of resources-both financial, unfortunately, and learning: the music itself, books about the various musics, recordings, videos, etc. Large academic institutions can try to be comprehensive, smaller ones must make choices, and so must public libraries.
If now you turn to us, the dealers, and ask what is available, I can answer "A great deal!" Come and visit us, and you will find on our shelves and in our computers much of use for a multicultural program. The quantity and variety of published materials increases daily. But keep in mind one problem: many important books remain in print for a surprisingly short time-a recent and regrettable development that impacts all acquisition plans. This is also why we sometimes include with our announcements of new publications discoveries or rediscoveries of older publications which surprisingly are still or are back in print.
Many American publishers have suitable multicultural materials. The list is endless, and I will mention only a few examples. White Cliffs Media issues books and cassettes in its series Performance in World Music and the Cambridge University Press publishes the series Studies in Ethnomusicology and Musica Asiatica, as well as many related single monographs. There is also the University of Chicago Press's Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology. Amy Catlin and her husband, the famous ethnomusicologist Nazir Jairazbhoy, run Apsara Media. The World Music Press has many interesting book and cassette packages, some even with videos. The American Gamelan Institute certainly belongs here too.
Many foreign sources are available, but often they are both hard to reach and to deal with. Here we find much help by using the increasing number of importers from various countries that are setting up businesses in the United States. They know their native publishers, have information about new publications, and thus form a reliable bridge to territories that are troublesome to reach directly. Various Asian countries have thus become much more easily accessible, and an importer of books from all parts of Africa has just offered his services for a huge area that was almost impenetrable in the past. We anticipate further developments in this direction.
For a long time now, the demand for Latin-American publications has steadily grown, and lately has become urgent. Until recently, our response to this need was less than satisfactory due to a lack of interest and cooperation from Central and South America. This attitude is now changing drastically-mañana and, more often, nunca are giving way to a new business-like alertness. We keep finding new sources of information and supply. I feel very optimistic about the present and even more so about future developments in this important area.
Europe, of course, is wide open. Also, there is a constant flow of information and of deliveries from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The East European countries under the communist regimes were a source of never-ending trouble: we were not permitted direct contact with the publishers; government export agencies formed an impenetrable barrier; and their laziness and sloppiness were exasperating. This dilemma has now changed drastically. The publishing houses are independent of the government, and new ones are springing up-as for example in the Czech Republic. Publishers in Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary have learned how to act in a business-like fashion, even though financial difficulties may still limit their operations. Some publishers now even have American agents. The unification of Germany has removed the infinite troubles that we used to encounter with East German publications. Important publications and particularly parts of series from all of these countries that we missed because they went out of print before Western orders were filled may eventually be reprinted, enabling us to fill existing gaps-although this will probably take years. The only major exception to this encouraging picture is Russia and the other republics of the former Soviet Union. Although they have a desperate need for hard currencies, which should be a strong incentive to work hard for business with the West, they still appear to be paralyzed by their crushing problems and unable to overcome their traditional inertia. We shall wait and watch for changes.
Recordings are, of course, a primary source in the study of ethnic music, and I am happy to say that we at Theodore Front Musical Literature are prepared to meet this need with a huge arsenal of information ready to be tapped for you multicultural programs. For the past 15 or so years, the Library of Congress has entrusted us with selecting and providing all foreign recordings for them. Through an ever-growing approval plan, we are charged with finding and supplying recordings of every kind of music from major and obscure record companies located all over the globe. The total number of recordings provided to date runs into the hundreds of thousands.
Yet, I must guard against making all of this sound too easy. Theoretically, our task is clear-cut: finding out what has been published, gathering and organizing this information, presenting it to you, and then filling your orders. But knowing that a book, a piece of music, or a recording exists does not always mean we can acquire the item without a significant amount of stubborn and time-consuming detective work. Only too frequently publisher A or research institute B is represented by agent C, who in turn is distributed by jobber D. Such arrangements shift and change; ineffective agents, for instance, are replaced, frequently without prior notice. Much of the dealer's work consists of cutting through these labyrinths. Simple standard procedures are fortunately the rule, but there are many exceptions.
I must stop, for my main purpose here is to learn and exchange information rather than to give a sales pitch. I shall listen eagerly to your discussions and look forward to the conclusions and definitions that will emerge. Naturally, you will then apply these conclusions to your own libraries and, based on them, develop your own program that fits the needs of your institution and of your community. When practical questions arise during this process, we may be able to help. If I myself do not know the answer, a member of our staff will help me find it-above all, my associate Christine Clark, who has been and remains the heart and soul of our establishment.
A final, personal word. One of my spiritual heroes, Sir Isaiah Berlin, has said that of all the centuries that make up history, this, our 20th, has been by far the worst. I have experienced a major part of its course. In spite of my age, I still follow attentively what happens here and abroad and share the sometimes despair, sometimes hope of the younger generations. Right now, wherever I look, I see hate, hate, hate. I hear endless discussions and few solutions. Thus, today at this meeting when we talk about multiculturalism in music, we must see it against this background. Music, too, has been used, or misused, as an expression of chauvinism, racism, hate, and evil. But this is not the true nature of music-its power to harmonize, to heal, and to reconcile remains undiminished. It is still die holde Kunst. As a medium of multiculturalism, it can and will be one of the forces that leads us from a frightful 20th into a friendlier 21st century.
Session: "Multiculturalism in the Curriculum-Shape and Boundaries"
Following a break, the program shifted to a second session, "Multiculturalism in the Curriculum: Shape and Boundaries" and opened with a presentation by Debbie Smith, who chronicled her experiences as music librarian at Occidental College during the recent and still ongoing development of a new curriculum in Western and non-Western music. Here follows an abstract and brief summation of Debbie's talk.
Multiculturalism and Music at Occidental
Concern for diversity in all disciplines has caused most college and university music departments to make some changes in their curricula. In music, students, faculty (both music and non- music), and administrators are demanding courses in other than Western repertoire, and these needs are being met in various ways. Many schools now have some sort of a "world music" course requirement or option for their music major, and there is increasing student interest in these types of courses. The development of a conscientious and timely curriculum that meets the needs of our changing community without sacrificing the enduring needs of the musician is not a task to be taken lightly. Librarians in their role as part of the educational process should be as involved in such changes as individual circumstance allows, and often the librarian can maintain a much-needed objective stature in discussions of change. The music librarian and music collection need to be involved for numerous reasons, the most obvious being the assurance that available resources can meet the demands of the new curriculum. The music librarian's knowledge of and access to the requisite resources are indispensable to existing faculty members charged with formulating new courses for the next term and can be particularly helpful to instructors with no prior experience in teaching world music.
This past year, all of these issues came to the fore at Occidental College. Here, a strong music program has always been in place, with a difficult music major based upon a traditional, Western-based curriculum. An idealistic mission of equality and excellence ran into conflict as attempts to reflect culturally the larger community of Los Angeles encountered cultural backlashes and resistance to change. Two years ago student demands were met by providing a new world music course. Nevertheless, this past January the music department come under fire for not offering enough non-Western studies. These new demands coincided with a faculty vacancy-clearly requesting another musicologist was not an option. The entire department needed to develop a new curriculum of Western and non-Western music that would appeal to a broader base of students and be more relevant to the students' world. Justifying the new faculty position proved difficult. There were unfocused student and nonfaculty demands for ethnomusicology, and the nonmusic administrators did not understand the technical nature of music courses. The newly developed curriculum was completed by March and goes into effect by 21 August 1994 with a variety of courses to continue (core music and music history series-the canon for admission into a good graduate school), to be dropped (repertory), and to be added and developed (mixtures of Western and non-Western music, such as cultural traditions in vocal music and music and drama). There is clear need for more focused non-Western courses, and to expand and explore the new areas. The response from the students has been enthusiastic. The demands and challenges for the music librarian to upgrade and revamp the music collection in a very short time are enormous!
Informal comments then followed from Louise Spear (UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive) and Don Brown (El Camino College). Louise noted that the Archive serves a diverse public far beyond just academic researchers-for example, native American museums seeking copies of recordings and people wanting to rediscover musical aspects of their ethnic heritage. Louise also commented on the fact that faculty expectations are out of touch with the library and its collections. The catalogs with their multiplicity of languages, coupled with the difficulty of searching techniques and subject access, create many barriers.
Don Brown reviewed recent developments at El Camino College, the only community college in the Los Angeles area to have a separate music library. Located in the southwest quadrant of the county, the library has stressed the development of multicultural resources. Now underway is a general multicultural center based on the model developed at Cerritos College. Presently the situation is nebulous-upon completion of the new library building at El Camino, the old library will become the multicultural center. Each ethnic organization, along with gay and lesbian groups, have input into the design, and so far the result has been separatism. Funding remains a major problem-the librarians have insisted on new materials or duplicate copies for the Center rather than transferring items from the library's present collection. Don has observed some disturbing trends: multiculturalism has become equated with pigeonholing and separatism rather than overlapping. Interests may be far different from what we first assume-a non- Western person may love Western music, for example. A multicultural center with an array of cultural materials without separation would be the ideal
Session: "Reachable Resources-What Else is Out There"
Following a lunch of Thai/Chinese cuisine and the business meeting, the afternoon session turned to "Reachable Resources: What Else is Out There."
Zuoyue Wang (manuscript processor, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, UC Santa Barbara) enlightened the audience by reviewing the holdings of the CEMA housed in the special collections department of the Donald C. Davidson Library. Established first as a collection of Chicano materials, the Archive now encompasses primary research materials documenting the cultural and political experiences of the Asian American, African- American, Chicano/Latino, and Native-American ethnic groups in California. The Davidson Library is the only institution in California committed to building a comprehensive, cataloged, and accessible collection of primary source materials for documenting the experiences of the state's major ethnic groups. CEMA was established to enable and enhance research efforts; to study the ethnic and racial diversity of the state and nation and attendant demographic and social issues; to support study and research in many disciplines, including the arts; to enrich the academic work of the ethnic studies departments in the University of California; to enhance the recruitment of underrepresented faculty and students; to serve as a site for graduate-level internships in history, archives management, ethnic studies, and special libraries; to organize exhibitions, conferences, and symposia on various topics related to the archival holdings; to develop monographs, exhibition catalogs, and other publications; and, to insure that future generations have access to the important historical documents preserved by the Archive. Although music is incidental to these collections, it nonetheless plays an important role due to such multidisciplinary collections as the archives of the Asian American Theater Company and El Teatro Campesino (Chicano theater) and the video archives forming Califas: Chicano Art and Culture in California, among others. One of the present priorities of CEMA is to rescue papers from ethnic organizations that are not archivally focused.
Maureen Russell (sound recording cataloger, UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive) then followed with an informal overview of multicultural music sources available via the Internet and how they might serve to open up interaction. Helpful handouts included a newly compiled listing of music mailing lists and usenet news music newsgroups. Maureen reminded us that the information on the Internet is only as reliable as the people inputting it and that there is "a lot of trash out there." The discussion took some interesting side trips, including the issues of email privacy, freedom of information in an electronic context, and the ethics of copying cataloging from other library catalogs now accessible on the Internet. Steve Fry underscored the value of the mailing lists for directing patrons to information unavailable in the library by recounting how he discovered and then introduced a delighted devotee of the Greek superstar Yanni to the Yanni listserver.
The meeting's wrap-up took the form of a group discussion centered around the questions raised by Leslie in her introduction. Reflecting both the newness and complexity of the topic, as well as semantic issues, the discussion went in all sorts of directions, too numerous to document here (the tape recording provides a complete record). But here follows a few key points gleaned from rough jottings on the editor's note pad.
Viewed in its entirety, the issue of multiculturalism and its interaction with the music collection and librarian has a unique California focus, and it is logical for the California MLA chapters to take the lead, perhaps with guidelines for multicultural collections as a service to the organization as a whole. We need a consensus on what the "ologies" denote (i.e., musicology, ethnomusicology, historical musicology), particularly as interdisciplinary studies continue to blur the traditional dividing lines between them. Defining culture in a library setting is difficult, and even more so within the arts and music-do we integrate the materials by format or separate them along ethnic lines? Somehow librarians must provide a coherent focus to their collections to enable continual and effective evaluation.
Presently multiculturalism is hung up on language. The term is often equated with political correctness that focuses on ethnic minorities, and thus denotes nonwhite, non-Western, or non- European culture. A threatening environment separates and excludes rather than includes. Emphasis on the formation of separate ethnic centers and collections reflects the need to witness a valid response by institutions to the information requirements of the underrepresented; but budgetary reality may force the eventual integration of these separate entities into more general collections. There is a valid fear that the goal of a cultural melting pot implies a dilution of cultural identities. Perhaps a better simile to reflect the desired cultural coalescence is that of a giant tossed salad, with each ingredient able to maintain its unique taste and texture while blending to form a larger entity.
Music, with its kaleidoscope of types and genres, has the potential to escape some of the rampant ethnic pigeonholing because of its universality-an opportunity to experiment with true multiculturalism at a mature level. Even the volatile language issue is softened by the fact that one can enjoy vocal music without knowing the language of its text. But it remains clear that the proactive music librarian in southern California must remain closely attuned to the question "Who is my community?" The ever-changing answer will continue to impact every music collection in the area.
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