University of Rochester Library Bulletin: The Music Library Workshop

Volume XVII · Spring 1962 · Number 3
The Music Library Workshop

The principal duties of a library obviously center around the collection and lending of books. But a library often participates in other activities as well. A case in point is the Sibley Music Library's Workshop, held for four successive summers from 1957 to 1960.

For a week (July 22-26, 1957) the Sibley Music Library was host to a Music Library Workshop, the first of its kind in the United States. The idea of holding meetings at the library originated with Dr. Allen I. McHose, Director of the Eastman School of Music Summer Session, who left the planning and realization of the program to the members of the staff.

Nearly all colleges and universities in which music courses are taught for credit have a music library or at least a collection of musical materials. All large public libraries and many smaller ones contain music departments. Their custodians or librarians are generally members of the Music Library Association, the national organization dedicated to the advancement of the music library profession. Through its national meetings, held annually, and its sessions in connection with the conferences of the American Library Association each summer, efficient communication between members has been established. Its excellent journal, Notes, serves to give further bibliographical and critical information. The staff of the Sibley Music Library felt, however, that the time had come when a series of informal meetings, limited to about twenty-five participants, would be both interesting and beneficial. Although every library may be quite different from every other, the basic problems are apt to be similar. Such deceivingly simple details as methods of enforcing rules and regulations, the collection of fines, the maintenance of law and order (to say nothing of sweetness and light) can become major issues in the life of a librarian. To be able to air one's views in the company of one's colleagues can be a comforting thing, though certainly not to be indulged in during a large national meeting. To have college administrators understand library procedures so that the librarian may better serve the department with the full support of the academic head is desirable. With these ideas in the mind, the staff planned for the workshop.

In a spirit of adventure (and not without some trepidation) the announcements of the workshop were sent out to deans of colleges and universities, to directors of public libraries, and to curators of special music collections. The response was, as one of the members of the staff remarked, "just perfect." The participants, not including the staff of the Sibley Library and the visiting lecturers, numbered twenty-five, an ideal group of librarians and administrators from all parts of the country. Among them were music librarians from Harvard University, the Julius Hartt College of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University, Marymount College, Ohio State University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Florida State University, the University of California at Berkeley, State Teachers College at Potsdam, Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Minnesota, and Western Michigan University; Detroit Public Library, New York Public Library, Columbus Public Library, and Brooklyn Public Library; administrators from Hollins College, Western Kentucky State College, Marymount College, and Misericordia College; and the owner of the Dale Music Company of Silver Spring, Md.

The general plan of the workshop was to hold two sessions in the morning and one in the afternoon, followed by an open forum and a coffee hour. For the sake of uniformity and cohesion, it was decided that the librarian of the Sibley Music Library should conduct and mediate all the sessions, with speakers exposing the key problems. After the welcoming address by the director of the Summer Session, the first day was devoted to orientation and an explanation of the collections at the Sibley Music Library, which were to serve as the tangible basis for discussion and the point of departure for comments later. The participants heard the history of the library and were taken on a tour of the stacks, rare-book room, reading room, and cataloguing facilities. The open forum in the afternoon was a question-and-answer period at which the librarian explained the basic rules of the library as well as its special services.

The second day's sessions were concerned primarily with bibliography. Dr. Charles Warren Fox, Editor of theJournal of the American Musicological Society and Professor of Musicology at the Eastman School, spoke about the basic bibliographical problems in music at the first morning meeting. At the second morning session the librarian discussed collected works, authoritative editions, and special lists. During the afternoon session, also of the group-participation nature of the open forum, a lively discussion of the periodical literature available in the field of music took place, at which some 125 journals were judged on the basis of material covered, practicality, bibliographical value, and readability. Dr. Pauline Alderman, chairman of the Department of Music Literature at the University of Southern California, presided over the open forum, during which each participant introduced himself and described the library he represented. Much humor resulted from some of the remarks, which led to an interesting and valuable comparison of notes on the various types of music library organization possible in our institutions.

Sessions in the third day's schedule proved to be of great practical merit. Miss Elizabeth E. Smith, Reference Librarian of the Sibley Music Library, was the speaker for the first meeting. Being chairman of the Music Library Association's committee on supplies and equipment, she spoke on the major pieces of equipment available through the manufacturers and illustrated her remarks with an exhibit of some of the representative products. The second session was devoted to microprint. Mrs. Margaret Toth, Editor of the University of Rochester Press, was the featured speaker. Since a large part of the work of this Press consists of the Microcard publication of music research materials, the discussion, demonstration, and explanation proved particularly enlightening to the librarians. The afternoon session consisted of a tour of the Orchestral and Choral Library of the Eastman School of Music, conducted by its librarian, Mr. Litchard Toland. Many college music libraries, as well as some city libraries, serve as rental centers for multiple copies of works for orchestras, bands, and choruses. The problems inherent in multiple-copy lending of this sort are obviously quite different from those inherent in lending to individuals. This session, at which such topics as housing, cataloguing, and administration of such collections, was meaningful and timely, calling forth many favorable comments. The open forum which followed the session proved to be a spirited one, devoted to a great variety of what one participant called "sticky details": administration of special collections, handling of recordings, compilation of scrapbooks, disposition of program notes from symphony orchestras, and cataloguing of ephemeral material.

The fourth day of the workshop was devoted entirely to problems of procurement of materials. The first morning session was an interesting one at which Mr. Fred G. Tessin of the C. W. Homeyer Company explained the services to be expected from a dealer in the acquisition of music. During the second morning session a round-table discussion of problems of purchase brought out many ideas on how to improve the procurement service for music libraries. The afternoon session, at which Mr. Lockrem Johnson, Director of Library Service for the C. F. Peters Corporation, was the main speaker, was especially valuable. Mr. Johnson explained some of the problems of music publishing, stressing supply and demand, processes of printing, selection of material, and problems of marketing. Mr. Charles Hendry, Educational Representative for Associated Music Publishers, elaborated upon Mr. Johnson's talk and suggested ways in which the music publishers could be of assistance to librarians. The open forum was dispensed with and a free period was substituted for the purpose of viewing the exhibits of music materials arranged in the library lobby by several music publishers. In the evening the workshop participants were guests at an orchestral concert conducted by Dr. Frederick Fennell.

The fifth day's sessions were divided among two topics: administration, and the functions of the Library of Congress. A great variety of questions came up during the morning meeting on administration: personnel, music library training programs, vacations, relation of librarians to faculty, and public relations. Although no conclusions were reached, for each library is an individual case, the participants felt that the cross-section represented was most interesting. Much hilarity resulted from discussions of fines, staff-faculty-student protocol, and books which were lost, strayed, or stolen.

The highlight of the workshop was the address by Dr. Harold Spivacke, Chief of the Music Division of the Library of Congress, who told about the services of the Music Division, the function of the National Library, and the problems of musical copyright. Graduate students in the Summer Session were invited to this meeting, which brought to a close a successful experiment in library relations.

Encouraged by the success of the 1957 Music Library Workshop, the Sibley Music Library sponsored three subsequent workshops. During the 1958 workshop the guest speakers were Dr. Harold Spivacke, Chief of the Music Division at the Library of Congress, and Mr. James Coover, Music Librarian at Vassar College and former bibliographer of the Rocky Mountain Bibliographical Center, while during the 1959 workshop the guests included Dr. Richard Hill, Chief of Reference at the Music Division of the Library of Congress; Mr. Sidney Beck, a member of the Music Division at the New York Public Library; Mr. Brooks Shepard, Music Librarian at Yale; and Mr. Paul Jessup, member of the Audio-Visual Department at the Rochester Public Library. At the fourth workshop Mr. Philip Miller, Chief of the Music Division at the New York Public Library, spoke on problems of the recordings collection; Mrs. Catharine K. Miller, Head of the Music Department of the 58th Street Branch of the New York Public Library, discussed bibliography; Dr. Merle Montgomery, Educational Consultant for the Music Department of the Oxford University Press gave an illustrated lecture on music publishing; and Dr. Spivacke addressed the group on the Library of Congress. Publishers represented at the various workshops included the Associated Music Publishers (Mr. Charles Hendry, Educational Representative), Boosey and Hawkes (Miss Martha Baxter, Educational Representative), C. F. Peters Corporation (Mr. Walter Hinrichsen, President; Mr. Walter Bendix, Sales; Mr. Lockrem Johnson, Chief of Library Services), and Oxford University Press (Mr. John Owen Ward, Chief of the Music Department; Dr. Merle Montgomery, Educational Consultant). Speakers from the University of Rochester were Mr. John R. Russell, Director of Libraries; Mrs. Margaret Toth, Editor of the University of Rochester Press; Miss Margaret Butterfield, Curator of Special Collections at Rush Rhees Library; and Mr. Everett Gates, Mr. Litchard Toland, and Dr. Charles Warren Fox, faculty members at the Eastman School of Music. During the four successive summer workshops some one hundred music librarians were participants. Practically every important music library in the country was represented, with the result that personally as well as institutionally the Sibley Music Library has widened its circle of good friends.