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Music collection development policy

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Program information

The Music Library serves primarily the faculty and students of the Department of Music, supporting the academic needs of teaching and research, through the doctoral level and beyond in historical musicology, music theory, composition, and ethnomusicology. (The Department does not offer a degree in music performance, although there is much performance by University groups both on and off campus.) The library also serves other departments of the University whose disciplines have an historical association with ethnomusicology, especially Folklore and Folklife and Anthropology. There are also traditional subject overlaps with the Annenberg School (music and mass media) and Fine Arts (iconography).

The Department of Music awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees in music; the number of students in both categories has remained small but steady over the course of many years.

Guidelines for Collection Development

1. Chronological

The Music Library collects materials (books, music, and recordings) related to western music from antiquity to the present, American popular music from the origins of recorded sound to the present, and studies and recordings in the field of ethnomusicology dating back to the birth of the field in the early twentieth century.

2. Formats

Material is purchased for the library regardless of format (currently, this includes books, scores, journals, microformats, and electronic databases and streaming media). The primary formats collected by the Media Center are the compact disc and streamed audio and video; LP recordings are purchased if a desired title is available only in this formats. DVD is the preferred format for video recordings. The library will acquire a desired title on Blu-ray if it is not available on DVD or if needed for teaching/research purposes.

3. Geographical

Emphasis on United States and western European imprints (due primarily to availability), as well as regions studied in the ethnomusicology program (ex: Africa, Caribbean, South Asia).

4. Language

No limitations, although emphasis is on English, western European languages, and regional areas under study in ethnomusicology.

5. Publication dates

Chiefly, purchases are limited to current material; retrospective collecting is considered on a case-by-case basis.

Principal sources of supply and major selection tools

Standing Orders

Although most material is acquired through firm orders, the library maintains a number of standing orders for major scholarly series (both books and music) including university press books, editions of composers' complete works, historical sets, conference proceedings, etc. A number of standing orders for noteworthy series are maintained for the Media Center as well—primarily in the areas of contemporary music and world musics.

Approval Plans

The library participates in two approval plans for contemporary printed music: domestic imprints with Theodore Front and European imprints with Harrassowitz. A DVD approval plan established with Theodore Front supplies newly issued video recordings of staged musical works, orchestral performances, and jazz concerts and artist profiles.


Principal vendors supplying music include Harrassowitz and Theodore Front. Sound recordings are acquired primarily through ArkivMusic, a major library supplier, although it is necessary to deal with a number of smaller vendors as well due to the diffuse nature of the recording industry. Books are most often acquired via Gobi, Amalivre, and Casalini.

Selection Tools

Selection tools include reviews and new publication listings from scholarly music journals, publishers' catalogs, and vendor selection slips.

  • Subjects collected and levels of collecting

    Music score collecting focuses include (graphic and traditional notation): chamber ensembles, choral works, composer collected works, collections of musical sources, electronic music, liturgical music, music for solo instruments, opera and oratorio, song, and orchestral music.

    Monographic collecting (books) focuses in subjects such as: biography, chamber music, ethnomusicology, composition, facsimile study, hermeneutics, history & criticism, ancient, Medieval & Roman music, Baroque, Renaissance, Classical, Romantic, modern and postmodern eras, librettos, bibliographies and catalogs, theory, musical instruments, musical paleography, musicology, world musics, orchestration and orchestral music, philosophy & physics of music, periodicals, popular music, vocal music, sound art, acoustemology, gender and critical race studies, and other emerging fields.

    Sound recordings: music of all eras with emphasis on Western art music, world musics, jazz, and popular music (latter is a developing area), emerging genres.


Cooperative arrangements

The Music Library actively collaborates with related collections within the University library system. Interdisciplinary material is handled cooperatively by the concerned curators or bibliographers.

The Music Library is working with the Ivies Plus consortium (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, MIT, and Stanford) on the cooperative acquisition of newly published scores by contemporary composers. Beginning in 2009, each library assumed responsibility for collecting scores by several dozen composers that are not being collected by the other libraries and agree to lend the scores through the Borrow Direct (Ivies Plus) consortium.

Related subject collections