Cataloguing Standards

The development of a standard for object records in the database, and for cataloguing objects without previous descriptions, represents one of the key challenges for the MINIM-UK project.

There are many aspects to consider. How do we ensure relevant information is included? How do we acquire the right amount of information within the time limitations for cataloguing fieldwork? Thankfully, previous work in the field of organology, and the work completed by the MIMO project, provide ideal foundations to develop a standard.

As a starting point, we made use of the methodological guideline developed in Cataloguing Standards for Instrument Collections.1 This publication sets out objectives, principles and procedures for a cataloguing process, and additionally provides appropriate fields for object information.

Considering the need to quickly and efficiently gather information in time-limited scenarios, we identified fourteen primary fields for each record. Many of these are common descriptors for objects held in cultural institutions (object name, place of origin, maker), while others are particularly pertinent to musical instruments (nominal pitch, Hornbostel-Sachs classification).

What about the data structure for each record? A schema is already available thanks to the work of the MIMO project,2 who developed a branch of the Lightweight Information Describing Objects (LIDO) XML schema.3 LIDO was developed to describe museum objects across many types, and is now a common framework for sharing of object information. MIMO added certain specificity to ensure mandatory information about musical instruments is given.

Additionally, the MIMO project developed a vocabulary of musical instrument classifications and names, which can be used as an authority when naming objects in English.4

By combining the information of these resources, the standards have developed into descriptors for fields of information which can be populated through cataloguing or data harvesting. The cataloguing standards and record frameworks for musical instruments in the database have now been published, providing support for the first steps in data mapping and transformation. Further technical documents will be available for participating collections in summer 2016.

  1. Myers, A. (1989). Cataloguing Standards for Instrument Collections. CIMCIM Newsletter, No. XIV, pp.14-28. Available online at:
  2. MIMO Toolkit. Available online at:
  3. What is LIDO. Available online at:
  4. MIMO Vocabulary. Available online at:
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