Unravelling the RISM Riddle at the University of Illinois: An Inventory and Analysis

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The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a large and rich collection of materials totaling over fourteen million volumes. Between its Music and Performing Arts Library (MPAL) and its Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML), it holds over 900 items that are catalogued in RISM. Over the years, the Music and Performing Arts Library has used various means to inventory and describe those holdings appearing in RISM: special card catalogues, binders with inventory lists, and of course, the online library catalogue. However, in practice, when scholars approach the library with questions regarding these holdings, it is sometimes difficult to locate the items on the shelves. In order to improve the experience for both researchers and librarians, an inventory project was initiated to verify and match University of Illinois holdings in the RISM OPAC to the library's own online catalogue. In addition, an analysis of the makeup of the library's RISM holdings was done. This article explains the inventory process, the findings of both the inventory and collection analysis, and outlines future steps needed to update our entries in RISM and in our local catalogue to make these items easier to find for scholars and librarians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-142
Number of pages24
JournalFontes Artis Musicae
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music
  • Library and Information Sciences


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