What (not) to buy

As a music librarian with an August end of financial year, the coming couple of months are a crucial time for acquisitions. This has always been the case, but in the context of the music pilot project this has now become what (not) to buy for which library and the differences in priority buying between Pendlebury and University Library are significant.

What we do have in common is the phenomenon of the composer collected editions and other subscriptions of printed music. Both libraries have a fair amount of subscriptions, needing a significant chunk of the budget. So far so good (or not) but the problem is the sheer unpredictability of the publication pattern, leaving us with the need to err on the safe side during at least the first half of the financial year and the task of estimating now how much will need to be set aside for the remaining months. Come April, this is fortunately a lot easier to do than in August. It would be nice to leave this a little bit longer, but unfortunately we can’t because “normal” printed music itself can be a little unpredictable and may or may not arrive promptly. So we need to get our orders sorted.

At the Pendlebury Library the main pattern of ordering is linked to faculty related teaching and research. This means most of the orders specific for this year’s courses will have been placed by now and we will know whether or not there is any scope for additional purchasing. If there is, we can do things like add to the CD and DVD collections and work on strengths and gaps in the collections. We will be looking at all physical carriers: audiovisual, printed music, books on music, reproductions.

Pendlebury Library of Music : Recommendation for purchase form

Pendlebury Library of Music : Recommendation for purchase form

Individual reader requests and especially requests from graduate students will keep trickling in though, and we try to be able to satisfy these requests at any time of year. We will, within reason, also try to support the strong tradition of performance within Cambridge and are (mostly) happy to purchase sheet music for performance, especially when the requested works will be of longer term interest. Within reason means anything up to chamber music sets. Larger scale choir and orchestral works are beyond what we can do. However, the Pendlebury webpages point to places where these can be hired both within Cambridge and further afield.

CUL : Recommend a new title (book or periodical)

CUL : Recommend a new title (book or periodical)

At the University Library, music librarians order printed sheet music. We also contribute to suggesting books on music. The University Library has a policy of not purchasing audiovisual material that dates back a long, long time.
Within the area of printed music, there are very interesting choices to be made and selection criteria are constantly fine tuned. Our planning document for purchasing 20th and 21st century music, is regularly updated,not least to add death years to composers after they have died.

Partly thanks to legal deposit, the collections are quite strong on British music. So one of the things we do is buy any major works that might have slipped through the legal deposit net. We try to build and retain collections for research purposes and focus on academic interests. This means that we will only be buying the latest set of sheet music for a particular work if the actual edition is of interest. Because we have the task of supporting research and preserving collections for the future, the sheet music we buy will need to be bound before it can be borrowed. Quite often, binding sheet music makes it just a little bit unpractical for performance purposes, but then again buying sheet music for performance purposes only is not what we do. Our strengths lie in building a collection of musical works as wide and varied as possible for musicological research and we aim to include as many scholarly editions as possible. These editions are mostly way out of reach of what an individual researcher and/or musician can buy, so we do like to focus on those. This brings me back to collected editions and the beginning of this blog. You will have noticed that I did not talk about journals and e. That is a different story altogether.
AP

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