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Telematics for Libraries - Projects


HARMONICA begins Phase 2 of key music support activity

Updated 11 DEC 97

Project Number and Title
PROLIB-HARMONICA - Harmonised Access & Retrieval for Music-Oriented Networked Information Concerted Action
Programme/Action line Call Topic(s) Start End Project Duration
in Months
FP 4/ Concerted Action 1, 7 and 8 January 1997
music libraries; bibliographic records; multimedia; networking; standards

blue bullet Additional information is available from the Harmonica web site . (

Concerted Action
This is a concerted action in the area of networked music services in libraries, potentially covering all action lines.
Call topic(s)
Provisionally involving, but not restricted to, Call Topics 1 (integration tools), 7 (new scenarios for distributed libraries) and 8 (user services based on resource discovery).
Project description
While music has always been an integral component of the traditional library environment, it has not always received the attention it deserves, probably as a result of the complexity of the issues it involves. Difficulties in handling music have been compounded now that it has evolved from scores and printed literature to include recorded music and, more recently, the use of new media and networks for text, sound and images.
The main aim of the HARMONICA initiative is, thereore, to improve access through libraries to music collections of different types, while taking into account the needs of various groups of users in the evolving world of networked information and interactive multimedia.
Libraries, as a key part of the information world, must address all pertinent aspects of information technology. Yet in regard to music, they have perhaps not fully considered which strategies to use for optimal results in IT applications and services. Here, they have been faced with particularly difficult issues raning from copyright to cataloguing and, above all, the varying needs of users groups depending on whether they are professionals (e.g. orchestras and choral groups) or simply users of public library services whose main interest is often leisure or entertainment.
Many players are involved in the area of networked services for music. They include research centres, publishers and related market-oriented suppliers, networking interests, performance rights agencies and standards bodies. Key representatives of these sectors must be identified and possibilities for cooperation must be carefully examined as the need for collaboration in the music sector is far greater than in other areas.
Technical approach
The concerted action is being conducted in two phases. During the first of which was completed at the beginning of October 1997, three studies and a range of concertation activities were used to map out the current state of the art and define basic priorities. The second phase (26 months) will concentrate on achieving consensus in the priority areas selected as a means of developing an infrastrucutre for further research and development.
Task groups have been created to coordinate work on catalogues and collections, on user needs and interface requirements and on networks and digitisation. In addition, conferences and workshops provide advice and feedback from other experts on the developments and ideas emerging from the concerted action and related activities.
Key issues
The aim of the concerted action is to provide a solid strategic framework for networked access to music and related multimedia services including:
  • examination of state-of-the-art technology and practice for access to digital music and related multimedia services;
  • application of existing standards (e.g. ISMN and ISRC),
  • assessment of emerging standards issues for encoding sheet music (SMDL), digital music (including compression techniques), incorporating music in multimedia products (CD-ROM, etc.) and interfaces with commercial products and services;
  • exploring networking options (Internet, WWW, ISDN);
  • user-friendly interfaces (GUIs) for search and retrieval services, integrating related requirements such as the drafting, editing and printing of sheet music, copying/downloading of recorded music;
  • integrated services giving librarians and end-users access to digitised musical resources (text, sound, sheet music, multimedia, etc.);
  • cataloguing requirements and integration of music catalogues into OPACs, etc., given the difficulty of documenting items such as tracks in recorded music using the MARC format;
  • fostering consensus between music publishers, music libraries, rights holders, broadcasters, etc., for sheet music, sound and reference;
  • consideration of copyright issues and mechanisms for covering copyright fees (and related costs) in networked access.
Impact and expected results
Provision of a more robust framework for the development of networked music information services in libraries.
Additional information is available from the Harmonica web site . (


Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
Title, First Name, Name Mr. Richard TUCKER Address: Molenpad 2
Tel: +31-20 62 66 465 Fax: +31-20 62 08 459
E-mail 1: E-mail 2:

Other Partners

Name of Institution/Organisation Country Role
Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Kommission für Schallforschung AT A
Dansk Musik Informations Center DK A
Bibliothèque Nationale de France FR A
Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique - Musique FR A
The Friends of Music Society GR A
Discoteca di Stato IT A
Donemus NL A
Musikkaliska Akademins Bibliotek SE A

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