First Monday

IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana by Kristine R. Brancolini, Stacy Kowalczyk, and Jenn Riley

The authors describe IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana (, a collaborative project to catalog and digitize sheet music from four cultural heritage institutions in the state, Indiana State Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indiana State Museum, and Indiana University. Now halfway through a three–year project, the partners have developed worked together to coordinate their workflows to facilitate standards–based digitization and cataloging. The lead partner, Indiana University, is performing automated quality control on digitized images for all partners and has created a flexible cataloging tool for sheet music that will be made available to other institutions at the conclusion of the project.


IN Harmony Project description
Partners’ collections
PDF creation
Metadata standards and cataloging tools
Current Project status



IN Harmony Project description

In October 2004, the Indiana University Digital Library Program received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to fund IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana, a three–year project to catalog and digitize sheet music from the collections of four partner institutions — Indiana University’s Lilly Library, Indiana State Museum, Indiana Historical Society, and Indiana State Library. The purpose of the Project is to create an online sheet music collection that will demonstrate how museums and libraries with complementary materials can work cooperatively to create shared digital resources. By concentrating initially on the collections of American sheet music owned by each of the partners, the Project will accomplish two highly adaptable goals: 1) it will demonstrate how approximately 10,000 digitized pieces of sheet music and their attendant metadata can be presented on a single Web site, offering federated searching of all collections or access to one or more selected collections; and, 2) it will demonstrate how collaborative digital library development can provide online access to the important regional collections of museums, libraries, and historical societies. These collections may, in fact, be sheet music, or they may be important materials in other formats, such as photographs, maps, manuscripts, or artifacts.



Partners’ collections

The partners hold diverse sheet music collections, with some focused exclusively on Indiana — composer, lyricist, subject matter — and others with no particular Indiana connection. The project will digitize all Indiana–related sheet music in these collections, then move out more broadly with priorities established by the partner institutions. Not all of the sheet music from partner institutions will have an Indiana connection other the location of the repository for the physical objects.

Indiana Historical Society (IHS)

The IHS sheet music collection is comprised of items gathered from a number of other collections, with about 950 items related to Indiana, by composers including Irving Berlin, Paul Dresser, Al Jolson, Jerome Kern, Fritz Krull, John A. McGee, Cole Porter, and Albert and Harry Von Tilzer. The Historical Society recently acquired the Jane B. Anderson Sheet Music Collection, with approximately 12,000 items, dating from 1854–1980, ranging from semi–classical to vaudeville. Selections from this collection will also be cataloged and digitized.

Indiana State Library

The Indiana Division owns a collection of approximately 1,600 pieces of sheet music, all with an Indiana connection. These pieces date from 1840 (a campaign song for William Henry Harrison) through the 1960s, with the bulk of the music dating from 1890 through 1950. The collection includes a wide variety of pieces: “booster” songs promoting a particular city or railroad stop, centennial songs from state–wide, county, and city celebrations, religious works, college songs, and songs based on the literary works of well–known Indiana authors such as James Whitcomb Riley.

Indiana State Museum (ISL)

The ISL owns about 1,800 pieces of Indiana–related sheet pieces from the Sam DeVincent collection and other sources. The collections include many of the published works of the Von Tilzer brothers, who were born in Indianapolis. Their popular songs include standards such as “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” “I Want a Girl,” “Apple Blossom Time,” and “Put Your Arms Around Me.” The Museum also holds a very good selection of Indiana Ragtime, 1910–1925, and representative collections of composers Hoagy Carmichael and Cole Porter.

Indiana University

Indiana University’s Lilly Library contains one of the nation’s largest collections of American sheet music: in addition to the DeVincent Collection, the Lilly Library owns the Starr Sheet Music Collection, containing more than 100,000 separate items. The DeVincent Collection had already been cataloged and selections had been digitized ( The IN Harmony Project builds upon and extends this work.




Each page of sheet music is scanned at 400 PPI, and the master image file is saved as uncompressed TIFF. We have created an automated Quality Control process that allows the partners to control their workflow. We developed a tool that will automatically validate the images (i.e. perform a technical quality control process), create the derivatives for delivery online (including downloadable and printable PDF files) and store all of the images safely (Figure 1).


IUDLP image validation and processing

Figure 1: IUDLP image validation and processing.




PDF creation

Studies revealed that users want to print sheet music for a variety of reasons — the cover art, the lyrics, the advisements, but most importantly, for the music. People do not want to print each page separately; they want a full score sized to print on 8.5” x 11” paper. The best way to fulfill that functional requirement is via PDF. We want to provide a PDF of the full score optimized for both printing speed and readability. After much experimentation, we have developed a process for creating PDFs that have sufficient clarity for performance while maintaining a file size of approximately one megabyte. Using a temporary intermediate JPG file for each page image, we resample down from the original 400 PPI to 125 PPI while maintaining the dimensionality of the original. For grayscale images, we include two extra steps to increase the printability and the readability of the scores — a 60 percent threshold to increase the disparity between black and white and a contrast filter to sharpen the edges.



Metadata standards and cataloging tools

A primary goal for this project is to provide robust, consistent browse and search access across collections. As a result, cataloging guidelines and tools for sheet music description have been developed to aide the project partners in a) cataloging sheet music not yet described in their respective collections; and, b) mapping existing cataloging records to a format that will facilitate cross–collection searching.

In order to generate cataloging guidelines and requirements, we needed to understand how sheet music is browsed and searched. We evaluated a subset of the query logs captured by the Indiana University Sheet Music Collection (housed at Indiana University) and the Sheet Music Consortium (housed at University of California, Los Angeles) Web sites to learn how people search sheet music, then performed a series of studies with real users of sheet music to help inform our choice of metadata elements. The complete usability studies can be found on the project Web site. Using the information gathered from the user studies, we developed a metadata model to describe sheet music that is flexible enough to meet the needs of the diverse project partners. The data will be stored in a relational database, but for purposes of interoperability with other digital library collections, records will be exportable into MODS. The table below (Table 1) is the complete data elements set with a brief description of the MODS transform.


Table 1: IN Harmony metadata elements.
Title elementsRepeatable?Required?MODS field
uniform titleNNtitleInfo/title/@type="uniform"
first lineNNtitleInfo/title/@type="alternative"/@displayLabel="First line"
first line of chorusNNtitleInfo/title/@type="alternative"/@displayLabel="First line of chorus"
alternative titleYNtitleInfo/title/@type= "alternative"/@displayLabel="Alternative title"
title of larger workNNrelatedItem/@type= "host"/titleInfo/title
series titleYNrelatedItem/@type="series"/titleInfo/title/
Name elementsRepeatable?Required?MODS field
composerYNname/namePart [and <role> indication] [@authority="naf" when applicable] [@type="personal|corporate"]
arrangerYNname/namePart [and <role> indication] [@authority="naf" when applicable] [@type="personal|corporate"]
lyricistYNname/namePart [and <role>indication] [@authority="naf" when applicable] [@type="personal|corporate"]
performerYNname/namePart [and <role> indication] [@authority="naf" when applicable] [@type="personal|corporate"]
dedicateeYNname/namePart [and <role> indication] [@authority="naf" when applicable] [@type="personal|corporate"]
engraverYNrelatedItem/@displayLabel="Cover information"/name/namePart [and <role> indication]
lithographerYNrelatedItem/@displayLabel="Cover information"/name/namePart [and <role> indication]
artistYNrelatedItem/@displayLabel= "Cover information"/name/namePart [and <role> indication]
other nameYNname/namePart [and <role> indication?] [@authority= "naf" when applicable] [@type="personal|corporate"]
Publication elementsRepeatable?Required?MODS field
publisher nameYNoriginInfo/publisher
publishing placeYNoriginInfo/place/placeTerm/@type="text"
dateYNoriginInfo/dateIssued OR originInfo/copyrightDate
Subject elementsRepeatable?Required?MODS field
topical subjectYNsubject/topic
name as subjectYNsubject/name/namePart/@type="personal|corporate"
temporal subjectYNsubject/temporal
instrumentationYNnote AND extension/inharmony/instruments/instrument
place name subjectYNsubject/hierarchicalGeographic
cover subjectYNrelatedItem/@displayLabel= "Cover"/subject/topic
other geographic subjectYNsubject/geographic
local subjectYNsubject/topic
Identification elementsRepeatable?Required?MODS field
IN Harmony ID numberNYrecordInfo/recordIdentifier
plate numberYNidentifier/@type="music plate"/@displayLabel="Plate number"
publisher numberYNidentifier/@type= "music publisher"/@displayLabel="Publisher number"
catalog numberYNidentifier/@type= "catalog"/@displayLabel="Catalog number"
call numberNNidentifier/@type= "call number"/@displayLabel= "Call number"
Other elementsRepeatable?Required?MODS field


To facilitate the data collection, we developed a cataloging tool. This tool is a Java client application with an Oracle database on a central server, is designed to maximize efficiency and assist authority control by allowing catalogers to automatically see names, subjects, locations, and titles of other works as they type. Catalogers can easily reuse the information in existing records (Figure 2). If the institution chooses to scan prior to cataloging, the PDF of the piece is available to the cataloger through the interface.


Recycling of information in records

Figure 2: Recycling of information in records.




Current Project status

The IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana Project is at the halfway point. Digitizing is in full production mode. More than 5,000 pieces of sheet music have been scanned and processed through the quality control procedure. The cataloging tool has just been released to production. The partners have cataloged more than 200 items to date. Currently, we are developing the functional and technical requirements for the public delivery system that will constitute the next phase of the Project. We expect to complete the Project on schedule in August 2007. End of article


About the authors

Kristine R. Brancolini is Director of the Indiana University Digital Library Program ( and Project Director on IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana. This Project grew out of her work the Sheet Music Consortium, a metadata harvesting service for sheet music operated by UCLA (; the Indiana University Sheet Music digitization program (; and, the Indiana State Library-sponsored effort to create a collaborative Indiana Digital Library ( On 3 July 2006, she became Dean of Libraries at Loyola Marymount University.

Stacy Kowalczyk is a visiting librarian for the Digital Library Program and the Project Manager on the IN Harmony Project. She is a Ph.D. student at the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science with a focus on digital library architectures and digital preservation. Before entering the doctoral program at IU, she spent seven years as Manager, Applications Programming, for the Harvard University Library, Office for Information Systems, where she managed the development of the technical infrastructure, both systems and process, for the Harvard Library Digital Initiative (LDI).

Jenn Riley is responsible for overseeing all metadata activities for the IN Harmony Project. She is the Metadata Librarian with the Digital Library Program at Indiana University–Bloomington, where she is responsible for planning metadata strategy for digital library projects and participates in the collaborative design of digital library systems. Jenn’s research interests include “shareable metadata,” the incorporation of thesaurus structures into search and browse systems, music digital libraries, and FRBR. Jenn is a member of the Metadata Working Group of the Digital Library Federation’s Aquifer Initiative and is an active contributor to the Best Practices for Open Archives Initiative Data Provider Implementations and Shareable Metadata. Jenn is the author of the blog Inquiring Librarian (, where her posts frequently center around improving intellectual access to library materials, and a contributor to the collaborative Blog and Wiki TechEssence (, a technology resource for library administrators.

Editorial history

Paper received 4 June 2006; accepted 18 July 2006.

Contents Index

Copyright ©2006, First Monday.

Copyright ©2006, Kristine R. Brancolini, Stacy Kowalczyk, and Jenn Riley.

IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana by Kristine R. Brancolini, Stacy Kowalczyk, and Jenn Riley
First Monday, volume 11, number 8 (August 2006),