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Standardization of descriptive practice supports improved access to archival collections with sound recordings of music. However, description of music sound recordings is complicated because of the unique characteristics of both music and sound recordings. Unfortunately, the standard for archival description in the United States, Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), does not supply specific rules for music sound recordings, although it does recommend that archivists consult The International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) Cataloguing Rules: A Manual for Description of Sound Recordings and Related Audiovisual Media for guidance. Given the wide range of descriptive options available via this recommendation, this study evaluates the extent to which finding aids for music collections with sound recordings successfully adhere to DACS, both in the application of IASA’s Rules as well as overall compliance with the standard in description of music sound recordings. Using document analysis methodology, this study finds low compliance with DACS and shows that finding aids commonly fail to apply IASA’s Rules correctly in description of music sound recordings. More research is needed to determine the reason(s) for this noncompliance. Possible solutions to improve standardization could include updating and clarifying the instructions in DACS, or using a different standard that provides specific instructions for description of archival sound recordings.
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