7. Catalogues and discographies

Many countries regularly publish national bibliographies, catalogues of books and periodicals published in the country and acquired by the national library. There are also innumerable bibliographies on books and articles on various subjects. Discography, the systematic cataloguing of records, is a much less developed branch of library science. Only very few countries have made attempts to produce national discographies and, in most cases, these are only partial attempts, listing only recent or only historical recordings. Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and the Federal Republic of Germany should be mentioned in this connection.

Recently there has, however, been increasing interest in discography. Specialists have published discographies of various types of recordings, such as operatic singing, violin playing, jazz, film music, dance orchestras, certain composers, speeches, etc. Most of these publications are mainly concerned with records issued in the English-speaking countries, while in other parts of the world there has been less interest in discography. There have also been discographies listing all recordings (or certain categories of recordings) published by a single record company and this is already a step towards a national discography. Certain types of music, such as jazz, are already quite well covered by discographies, but others are hardly touched at all.

In this situation the second best source of information is usually commercial catalogues published by and for the record trade. Most record companies regularly publish catalogues and newsletters listing new releases and other recordings currently available. In some countries there are also collective catalogues listing all (or most) recordings currently available for the trade. Well known examples are the Schwann catalogue in the USA, Music Master and Gramophone in the UK and Bielefelder in the Federal Republic of Germany. Such catalogues are invaluable for two reasons. They list records currently available and show their publishers and catalogue numbers. But even later, when the catalogues are no longer current, they are useful check lists of recordings that have been published, many of which are probably not listed in any other source. In fact sound archives would do well to obtain as complete a collection as possible of catalogues issued by record companies in their country, and at least occasional copies of the main international catalogues mentioned above. Afterwards such catalogues will be almost impossible to find. Record company catalogues published at the beginning of the century are already collectors' items which in many cases cost more than the records they list.