Music Libraries: Contents and an Under the Radar
Profession with Expectations
The research in this paper is based upon the compilations of many
experiments and trends presented both in the library and
information sciences field and through the Music Library
Association and the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association.
Research included types of music library institutions and
organizations as well as the many library professionals that tend to
them and their administrations. Research also included the trends
in required skills and knowledge of the music library professionals.
Results showed that the most popular and supplemented library
included the academic and conservatoire institutions and the
population they serve. Results also displayed that demands for
education and individual special skills are increasing in places of
employment. This presents the questions of what is actually
required of employers beyond the education and experience
requirements and if employment in music libraries will continue or
diminish over time
• Music is the true international language, but are
all positions created equal?
• Music librarians have a strict set of expectations
and required set of skills
• Different music libraries contain distinct materials
• Librarians are responsible for:
– Music library materials
– Music library collection development and
– Patron and Reference services
• Types of Music Libraries
• Serve students, faculty, individual ensembles, music department, and
all other inquirers
• Contents include all types of audio and media recordings, reference
and history books, sheet music, ensemble music and scores, and other
• Serve students and faculty
• Contents are much more in depth and numbers and are focused in
performance and study of music theory and history.
– Production and Business
• Hold licenses and patents for television or radio media (usually
inaccessible to the public)
– Public or Town Libraries
• Contents of a music library
– Digital Databases and Assets
• Usually provided by subscriptions from a university
library or organization
– Physical contents include, but are not limited to:
• Scores, both oversized, miniature, and condensed
• Sheet music, both ensemble and solo
• CDs, DVDs, Vinyl, and other audio recordings
• Musician biographies
• Music History and Reference materials
– Dealing with the collection
• Assessment of organization, distribution, and collection
system and make changes as permitted
• Preservation and Storage
• Cataloguing methods and technology
• Collection management
– Weeding and acquiring new materials
– Patron and Organization Services
• Ex. Students, faculty, staff,
– Undergraduate/Graduate Degree in Music or substantial
background in music
– Master in Library and Information Science
– Extended qualities like knowledge of a foreign language
– Distinct and enhanced personal attributes
– Distinct and enhanced social attributes
– Experience in both music and LIS
– Distinct and enhanced general knowledge,
skills, and abilities
• Music librarians are highly trained, multi-faceted
• Their qualities are represented by a wide array of
• Specific training and even advanced qualities are
necessary for employment
• Requirements suggest that it may be harder to
obtain employment in the future if trends in
required education, experience, and skills
continues to increase
• Bello, J., & Underwood, K. (2012). Improving access to digital music through content-based analysis. OCLC Systems &
Services, 28(1), 17-31.
• Clark, J. C. (2013). What Employers Want: Entry-Level Qualifications for Music Librarians. Notes, 69(3), 472-493.
• Fazekas, M., &Philpott, L. (2005). Music Librarianship. Feliciter, 51(3), 128-130.
• Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association,
• Royall, B. (2011). Classical Music Reference Library. Notes. 68(2), 433-435.
• Smith, S. L. (2012). Weeding Considerations for an Academic Music Collection. Music Reference Services Quarterly, 15(1), 22-
• Tarulli, L. (2010). Exploring Public Library Music Collections Through Social Technologies. FontesArtisMusicae, 57(3), 267-274.
• Thompson, P. (2012). The Bluffer’s Guide To Conservatoire Libraries. FontesArtisMusicae, 59(2), 97-105.
• Thompson, A. F. (1986). Music Cataloging in Academic Libraries and the Case for Physical Decentralization: A Survey. Journal
Of Academic Librarianship, 12(2), 79.
• Torvinen, J. (2009). Can Music (Libraries) Predict Our Future?. FontesArtisMusicae, 56(1), 25-28.
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