Music Library Work – a Swiss perspective

Pendlebury Reading Room

Pendlebury Reading Room,
copyright Anna Pensaert.

My name is Federica Rusconi Castellani and I have spent four month at the Pendlebury Library of Music, working part-time on a project. In this blog post I’m sharing my impression of the work experience here.

I come from Switzerland where I’m Head of the Department of Musicology and Music Score at the Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire of Lausanne and I have now come to the end of my time here in Cambridge.

Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire of Lausanne ; photographed by diluvienne (, (some rights reserved: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) )

As part of my professional development and my training, I was interested in having the experience of foreign, renowned music library. In Switzerland, we are going through an evolution of the librarian’s job and we are observing that the role of libraries is changing! Therefore, the purpose of my time here was to
experience the reality of English librarianship and to know how English music libraries are experiencing the influence of internet and digitization as well as the libraries seeing a change of use by their users. Two questions I’m particularly interested in are: how should the profile of music collections be changed in order to adapt for changing practices of the public and the dematerialization of media the future? How can we manage this time of transition and change?

My experience in Cambridge made me discover a different reality from that of Switzerland. It’s important to say that Cambridge has one of the most renowned Faculties of Music in the world and this means that the libraries here have to support teaching, learning and research of this Faculty with a rich and exhaustive collection. This also implies a significant attendance of the library, considered a privileged place of work and education. This is an exceptional case, in which the library does not have to go to attract users or make special efforts to promote its image to the public. Its main task is to be up to the level of provisions which the prestige of the faculty demands.

The library where I work, a university but also regional library, has other objectives than the Pendlebury. In fact, while on the one hand, it is aimed at a public of specialists (not large in our latitudes since there is not a big faculty of music), on the other, it needs to justify its activities, and must also satisfy a wider and heterogeneous readership. This means librarians need to make a daily and continuous effort to find the best ways to promote the collection.

A special thanks to Clemens, Anna, Helen and Sophie for their hearty welcome and their willingness to help me.

Federica Rusconi Castellani
(Head of the Department of Musicology and Music Score at the Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire of Lausanne; at the Pendlebury between March and July)

About musicb3

The "author" MusiCB3 is used for all the "guest contributions". Every post by a guest is signed. Most of our guests are based in Cambridge (libraries). If you would like to contribute to this blog as a guest please contact us via music [at-sign-thingy] lib [dot] cam [dot] ac [dot] uk.
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1 Response to Music Library Work – a Swiss perspective

  1. Pingback: Use of Naxos versus CD borrowing at the Pendlebury | MusiCB3 Blog

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