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Otto E. Albrecht Music Library

Bibliographer:Liza Vick

I. 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.

II. Collection Description

Although the University's collection of music, books on music, and recordings boasted its first curator in 1937, the Music Library was not founded as a branch library until 1953 when music materials were moved out of the Fine Arts Library into the Hare Building. The library moved again in 1968 into what is the present Music Building, and again in 1978 to the 5th floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. It has been in its present location—4th floor-West in Van Pelt—since 1983. The Marian Anderson Music Study Center, which opened in 1998, houses the library's reference collection, current periodical issues, and microfilm collection. The Center provides a quiet study space for readers and includes microform readers, computers, and connections for laptops.

The Music Library currently holds over 70,000 volumes of books, music, periodicals, and microforms. At the core of the collection are scores in both scholarly and performing editions, literature on music history and theory, and microforms of primary sources. Recent collection development efforts have focused on the acquisition of contemporary music scores, facsimilies of original printed and manuscript sources, and materials related to ethnomusicology, popular music, and jazz.

The library's holdings of music-related electronic resources continue to expand. At present the library provides access to four bibliographic databases dedicated to music: Music Index, International Index of Music Periodicals (IIMP), RLIM Abstracts of Music Literature, and Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals (RIPM). Additionally, several specialized databases of music sources have recently become available. Most noteworthy among these products is RISM (Repertoire International des Sources Musicales), which has taken the lead in including graphical images of music incipits alongside the bibliographic description of the works listed.

In addition to the materials held within the Music Library itself, the Department of Special Collections houses the Library's rare music along with several collections of particular musical interest, including the papers of Marian Anderson, Alma Mahler Werfel, and the American Musicological Society, the Eugene Ormandy Archive, the Leopold Stokowski Collection, and the archives of the Philadelphia Musical Fund Society.

The University's collection of sound recordings has always been an integral component of the Music Library. After several moves, the Music Listening Room, as it became known, was permanently situated adjacent to the Music Seminar in 1983. Renamed the Eugene Ormandy Listening Center in 1989 and the Eugene Ormandy Music and Media Center in 2001, it offers 33 listening stations and 5 video viewing rooms where students and faculty may take their selections from the more than 30,000 recordings in the collections. As of 2000, the library's collection of LPs is held in the remote storage facility, and users can place requests for their retrieval through Franklin. All compact discs and cassettes are currently held in the Ormandy Center.

The collection's strengths include multiple performances of standard concert repertory and extensive holdings in world musics. Currently, an effort is underway to expand the holdings of contemporary western art music and popular music.

The library collects video recordings of staged musical productions (opera, ballet, musical theatre) and selected orchestral and jazz performances, as funds permit.

III. 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, journals, microformats, and CD-ROM products). The primary format collected by the Listening Center is the compact disc; LP disc and cassette recordings are purchased if a desired title is available only in one of these formats. The library does not collect DVD-Audio or SACD discs.

    DVD is the preferred format for video recordings. The library will acquire a desired title on VHS tape or laser disc only if it is not available on DVD.

  3. Geographical

    Emphasis on United States and western European imprints (due primarily to availability), although no material is excluded based solely on country of origin.

  4. Language

    No limitations, although emphasis is on English and western European languages.

  5. Publication Dates

    Chiefly, purchases are limited to current material; retrospective collecting is considered on a case-by-case basis. The advent of the compact disc has spawned interest in issuing both remastered old recordings as well as historic performances never before released on LP disc. This circumstance provides an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen the Listening Center's holdings in the area of 20th-century performance practice.

IV. 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 Listening Center as well—primarily in the areas of contemporary music and world musics.

Approval Plans

The library participates in two approval plans for twentieth-century 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, Theodore Front, Blackwell, and Broude Brothers. Sound recordings are acquired primarily through the Music Library Service Company, 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 vendors suggested by the Acquisitions Department of Van Pelt Library.

Selection Tools

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

V. Subjects Collected and Levels of Collecting

Subjects Collected Levels of Collecting
Chamber ensembles 3/3
Choral works 3/3
Collected works 4/4
Collections of musical sources 4/4
Electronic music 3/3
Liturgical music 3/3
Music for solo instrument 3/3
Opera/Oratorio 4/4
Orchestral music 3/3
Songs 3/3
Biographies 4/4
Chamber music 2/3
Composition 3/3/4
Ethnomusicology 2/4
Facsimilies 2/3/4
Hermeneutics 3/3
History and Criticism
Ancient 2/3
Medieval & Roman 3/3
17th-19th cent. 2/3
20th cent. 3/3
Librettos/Collected literary works 3/3
Music Bibliography/Catalogs 4/4
Music theory 3/4
Musical instruments 3/3
Musical life 2/3/4
Musical paleography 3/3
Musical technique 2/2
Musicology 3/4
National music
Africa/Americas/Asia 2/3
Europe 3/3
U.S. 3/4
Orchestral music 2/3
Orchestration 2/2/3
Periodicals 3/3
Philosophy & physics of music 3/4
Popular music 2/2
Vocal music 3/3
Jazz 1/2/4
National music (emphasis on Indian material due to participation in PL-480 program) 2/3/4
Post-1945 western art music 3/3/4
Standard concert repertory 3/3/4

VII. Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

No formal cooperative arrangement exists between the Music Library and related collections within the University library system. Rather, interdisciplinary material is handled on a case-by-case basis by the concerned curators or bibliographers.

The Music Library is working with other Ivy League schools (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Yale) on the cooperative acquisition of newly published scores by contemporary composers. Beginning in 2009, each library will assume responsibility for collecting scores by several dozen composers that are not currently being collected by the other libraries and agree to lend the scores through the BorrowDirect consortium.