“When humans come into the picture things get messy”

IAML NY – Round table session on IMSLP – Tue 23rd June 2015 (report by Nienke de Boer)

Op IAML-congres denk ik en schrijf ik in het Engels. Dat bespaart me een continue vertaalslag in mijn hoofd. Wel zo ‘rustig’ in de toch al volle week. Daarom hierbij, in het Engels, mijn notities naar aanleiding van de IMSLP-sessie.

IMSLP Round table: Success stories and pitfalls for cooperations between IMSLP and music libraries

Edward Guo, founder of IMSLP: 

“IMSLP looks out for improvement suggestions from music librarians. IMSLP is growing fast. Over the past 3 years 100.000 items have been uploaded. New projects are coming up.” 

Clotilde Angleys, Bibl. nationale de France:

“The digital library of BnF, Gallica, would like to make a link between Gallica and IMSLP. BnF is going to talk with IMSLP about an agreement on this. Things have not yet been settled.

People are alread putting Gallica scores on IMSLP, so BnF would rather like to make it official. It would encourage people to visit Gallica.” 

Question: How do you garantee that people do not use Gallica scores for commercial reasons? “On the first page of each Gallica score are the conditions. This first page will still be there when Gallica scores are available via IMSLP. So people are informed.”

David Day, Brigham Young University:

“IMSLP is a venue for self publishing and has positive aspects. 

However the search interface is not yet perfect. There are a few concerns regarding IMSLP:

1. In IMSLP it is not clear what the differences are between types of scores (scholar edition, performance edition, etc.). It is so easy for students to get scores from ISMLP. In a way it reinforces their laziness… If the type of score is not clear, students and other users will not know what they get.

2. The quality of the PDF’s is poor compared to the original digital score. Maybe more or better links to the original score should be made.

3. There is also concern about the future of scholar editions. The trend nowadays is ‘online’. At the same time publishers still put a lot of effort in printed scholar editions. How long will they be able to do so?”

Tammy Ravas, University of Montana:

“Students love IMSLP. Music librarians are positive. Would like to see more libraries to cooperate with IMSLP. Open source makes more treasures available to a bigger audience.”

Barbara Wiermann, Saechsische Landes-, Staats- und Universitaetsbibliotheek Dresden:

“Why not integrate IMSLP in your own library catalogue? The SLSUB Dresden is doing it already, with a special symbol in the catalogue for IMSLP. Thanks to this special symbol users can immediately see the origin of the score.”

Douglas Woolfull-Harris, Baerenreiter-Verlag:

“If you have done a lot of work on publishing a composition, it is hard to see that people take it for free from IMSLP. Also difficult to see is that the critical comments of some editions are removed in IMSLP. We need more information then just the notes. The policy is not clear; some have documentation, some not, and some have bad documentation.”

Edward Guo, founder of IMSLP:

“We will further improve the quality of back links to the original digital source. Not only trace back via main links, but more exact.

Regarding copyright: as long as it is public domain in Canada it way stay on the IMSLP website (the IMSLP servers are in Canada). There is always a remark when it is not public domain in other area’s of the world.”

Question: It would be good to have a form for up-loaders, with a (fixed) set of questions that has to be answered. This way more background information can be obtained and made available for users. 

Additional question: Would it be possible to add a question regarding whether the material has been used for performance? This can be helpful for orchestra librarians. Gives an indication that possible mistakes have been seen/corrected. 

Answer by ISMLP: A form for up-loaders would be possible. Extra question regarding ‘performed’ or ‘not performed’ would be possible for music typeset scores, but would be more difficult for published scores.

Comment: There should be some kind of indication about the quality of each score in IMSLP.

Comment: Please respect our collections.

Comment: BnF (see above) is a good initiative, but should it not be the other way around?

Question: If you once have uploaded a score it is not possible to take it back. Maybe when a better quality is available the old one could be replaced? 

Answer by IMSLP: The old one will stay, has to stay, that is how the legislation works. IMSLP has no right to remove it because it has become ‘creative commons’. And regarding removing an item one should know that when humans come into the picture things get messy. 

Comment: If IMSLP would be wiki like, people could correct things. Music librarians and music publishers could then have a function as specialist. They would cleanse a lot of stuff that has been uploaded, because they have the knowledge to correct things, to add important information.

Comment: What is our responsibility as librarians? We can try to educate our own patrons/users. However we can not educate the whole world who is going directly to IMSLP (not via a library catalogue).

Comment: Maybe we need an extra tab for ‘critical edition’. That would be helpful.

Comment: IAML could make guidelines for contributors, instead of asking IMSLP to do so.

The discussion on IMSLP will continue, analogue as well as digital.

Nienke de Boer – IAML congres New York, 23rd June 2015 

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