The “Répertoire International des Sources Musicales” (RISM) (International Inventory of Musical Sources) , lists surviving musical sources worldwide and publishes this information in catalogues and electronic media. The musical sources include manuscripts or printed music, documents on music and libretti which are preserved in libraries, archives, monasteries, schools and private collections. The international organisation was founded in 1952 in Paris and had its Central Editing Office in Kassel from 1960 onwards. In 1987 this Editing Office moved to Frankfurt. Work groups in 32 countries with about 100 members of staff catalogue the musical sources which are preserved in their respective countries. In addition, they are involved in their own projects to document libretti surviving in each country.

Publication is undertaken by Bärenreiter (RISM Series A/I ‘Music Prints’, Series C ‘Directory of Music Research Libraries’) and by G. Henle in Munich (RISM Series B – a systematic series) as well as by K. G. Saur (Series A/II ‘Music Manuscripts’ on CD-Rom). By cataloguing works in an extensive directory, surviving musical works are both protected from loss and made accessible to musicologists and performing musicians, making this a project with a practical application. RISM receives financial support for individual projects from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn, the Union der deutschen Akademien der Wissenschaften, The Ford Foundation, New York, Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes (CNRS), Strasbourg, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, Jerusalem, Otto-Wolff-Stiftung, Cologne, Research Division of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, Stiftung für wissenschaftliche Forschung, Zurich, Volkswagen Foundation, Hanover, CIPSH / UNESCO, Paris and other sources.

2011 Bärenreiter published a CD-ROM of RISM series A/I “Individual Prints before 1800.