Collection Development Internship -- Summer 2008


Entry 1 (5-May 2008)

I met with Keith Cochran, Collection Development Librarian at the Cook Music Library, this morning. As I am Keith's first SLIS intern at IU, I came prepared to brainstorm ideas for projects and also discuss my objectives for the internship. Happily, he had already concocted an exciting project, one that will take considerable time to complete. I will be compiling a desiderata list of scores by 100 selected 20th and 21st century composers, for assistance in ordering. To do this, I will first check our holdings for all composers listed, then check all titles available for each composer against the holdings. I will be using our two most favored vendors: Theodore Front Musical Literature and Otto Harrassowitz. Keith and I also discussed other projects we will move into once this is complete (neither of us has a firm sense of how long this will take to complete, but I suspect less than 180 hours!). Finally, I asked him for recommendations for articles to examine, which I will abstract accordingly.

Entry 2 (13-May 2008)

After a long weekend, I am back to the grind. Having developed a rhythm for my current project, I am progressing swimmingly. Harrassowitz's website is navigable and quite user-friendly. Were that Theodore Front's site were as congenial; it has been down pretty much every day. Thus, rather than checking each composer's publications on each site concurrently, I am forced to divide the searching into two phases. When Front's site does come back up, I will have a backlog of searching to do. Oh well, best laid plans...

My recent cataloging experience is coming in handy. First, I am using uniform titles to file the entries under each composer. Most of these are present in authority records, which I can search in OCLC. For those that have not been created, I concoct a uniform title myself (which makes for good practice, lest I get rusty at cataloging!). Moreover, the intense scrutiny I've developed in cataloging also helps differentiate two very similar-looking entries and determine if IU holds the item (this is especially important with non-Roman titles, which may be romanized completely different by a cataloger and by the vendor. Lastly, I am searching for cataloging copy for each title I add to the "desiderata" list; this will save some effort when it comes time later to order the titles.

I am still waiting on Keith for a reading list of articles, which I've asked him to compile at his convenience. Then, I can start abstracting.

Entry 3 (22-May 2008)

So, it's week number three. I have developed a nice workflow with my current project, searching alternatively in Theodore Front, Harrassowitz, and OCLC for each composer. As I originally sorted the composers by number of holdings at IU, each list I check gets longer and longer. So, while it feels like I get less work done (fewer composers searched per day), my workflow continues apace.

Keith has assigned me a second project, lest I get too bogged down with one task and my productivity slips. I will be duplicate searching items in the Peter Brown collection (a large collection of books and scores donated by the late emeritus from the Musicology department. I started working with this collection last semester, as part of my Music Librarianship seminar project. Since I've already sorted the collection and ferretted out the high-priority items for processing (using circulation data), it has come time to examine the rest of the collection. Per Keith, I will start with the items that will most likely not be duplicates: dissertations and foreign-language books. So far, there seems to be about a 70/30 division between items not held and held. Duplicates will not likely be added immediately (dissertations to not circulate much). Ideally, the items which are new will be subsumed into the cataloging workflow (which probably means they will go into the book frontlog, a purgatory for low-priority items to be sure). Alas, that is beyond my purview for the moment.

Entry 4 (2-June 2008)

Today I begin week 5 of my internship, with three projects in full-swing. I am about two-thirds through the list of 100 composers for which I am searching for scores not held by the IU Music Library. Theodore Front's website still gives me trouble; more often than not, I cannot search the site. This has waylaid my efforts a bit, but with other tasks to occupy my time, it is not an emergency (yet). Keith has mentioned that, pending feedback from certain music faculty, he may be adding to the master list. I await further information on this.

In the mean time, I am enjoying another task: searching foreign-language titles from the Brown collection for duplicates. Surprisingly, at least half of the titles are held (this is not surprising in a major research collection), with the majority of those not-held being rather obscure, or in languages not commonly spoken or read by researchers (e.g., Hungarian). My third project involves selecting scores from the "frontlog" (read, backlog) for copy cataloging, based on quality of bibliographic records available (either created/modified by the Library of Congress or a member library of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging). This is indeed a task of Sisyphean proportions, what with over 40,000 items currently in the score frontlog alone.

Entry 5 (20-June 2008)

Well, my internship is now half over, with roughly 90 out of 180 hours completed. I am past the halfway point of my desiderata list, having searched 71 out of 100 composers for IU's holdings, then pricing and availability of titles not held. However, the composers which remain have the most robust holdings (and most likely, the most titles available for purchase). I spoke with Keith yesterday and found out that the same list of 100 contemporary composers will be the basis of a new scores approval plan, to be crafted later this summer. I am looking forward to that experience with earnest.

Keith and I also spoke about processing some of the titles from the Brown collection, moving them through the acquisitions workflow. After a brief tutorial on said workflow with our Head of Acquisitions, I will begin that task. Finally, as July 1st approaches, and with it the new fiscal year, I look forward to placing orders for (at least some of) these titles which I've been compiling.

Entry 6 (30-June 2008))

I have finally begun the task of processing the gift materials from the A. Peter Brown collection, which I unpacked and sorted last semester as part of my Music Librarianship Seminar project. For starters, Keith has asked me to focus on those materials which are not already held in the collection (specifically, dissertations and foreign language books). It is quite satisfying to add new titles to the collection, knowing that if at least one person discovers a new resource out of this batch of materials, the task is made worthwhile.

Meanwhile, my contemporary composers desiderata project is hitting crunch time. Tomorrow begins the new fiscal year, and with it the opportunity to begin ordering new materials. I will be training with our head of acquisitions on how to do perform this task in Sirsi. To be sure, there will be no shortage of titles to choose from. I do wonder, though, if Keith will grant me prerogative to make selections myself, or if he will dictate which criteria to consider when selecting from this enormous list. I highly doubt we will be able to order everything on it at once!

Entry 7 (9-July 2008)

I am into the last third of my internship, with roughly 50 hours left. Though two of my projects (the desiderata list and the Brown collection) are winding down, there are still a number of things I want to make sure I accomplish while I still have time with Keith. We met this morning and discussed some of those. I expressed that I would like to be part of (at least as an observer) the process he is going through to set up the scores approval plan. It is evidently quite different from what we learned in the Collection Development course, in that he will be working very closely with the vendor reps rather than doing everything through the web.

Keith is also going to have me do some firm ordering this week. I finally have Acquisitions authorizations in Sirsi, so I can create the orders, generate the purchase orders, and submit them to the vendors. In addition to our two score sources (Front and Harrassowitz), I will be ordering sound recordings from the Music Library Service Company, a vendor that is new to me. Additionally, I was surprised to find out that we submit our orders to Front (our domestic vendor of choice) via snail mail rather than through their website. Having had as much trouble using it thus far, this does not surprise me in the least. Sometimes one needs a paper trail!

Entry 8 (28-July 2008)

I am now in my last 7 hours of the internship, with much still to do! Along with putting the finishing touches on the desiderata list, Keith and I have starting selecting titles for purchase! He selected several to be ordered from our European vendor (Harrassowitz); I selected about 30 titles or so to be ordered from Theodore Front (our stateside vendor). He has also asked me to submit the orders in Sirsi as well as on Harrassowitz's web site. For the Front order, however, we will be mailing the purchase orders in instead of submitting our order through their site. It will be extremely satisfying to see some of these titles come in; the fruits of my labor, indeed! I am enjoying the selection process not only because it feels like shopping, but also because I can employ several methodologies I have gleaned from discussions with Keith. These include: examining which of these works we hold in sound recording format; examining which works have been treated in recent literature; and, impressionistically selecting based on known standard repertoire. This is truly fun!

As regards the Peter Brown collection, I am getting to a stopping point (I am nowhere near "done", unfortunately). By later this week, I will have added all of the added copies I identified last semester in my seminar project. This will bring the total number of titles (which can be monitored by searching for the local subject heading we established) to almost 600. To keep this fire burning, I will submit a detailed outline of the strongest areas of the collection which warrant attention by a librarian (or perhaps another intern) in the future; this report will also chronicle what I have done thus far.

As expected, I am saddened that this work will not continue into the fall. I have enjoyed these tasks quite a bit, and feel very prepared to take on such duties at my first job, wherever that may be.


Maple, A. and Morrow, J. (2001). Guide to writing collection development policies for music. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.

Maple and Morrow's book, the only one of its kind in the literature, addresses the significant (yet questionably relevant) task of writing a collection development policy for a music library. In the introduction, the authors address how quickly such policies can become out of date, and as such how they can be used to defend the status quo at the expense of flexibility. That policies need to be updated frequently and continually is the premise on which this book is written. The first chapter is a checklist delineating the various determinations the librarian must make about his or her collection and user population (e.g., mission and goals, scope, selection tools to be used, approval plans). Following this are a sample policy, with copious annotations and commentary, and finally a specimen policy, taken from the Middlebury College Music Library.

The authors address two audiences: avowed music librarians and generalist librarians charged with the custodianship of a music collection. In this spirit, a glossary is given at the end containing the most commonly-used music terms in collection development parlance. Aside from this accomodation, the authors assume a basic knowledge of methodology which one would expect to glean from a graduate course in collection development and management.

Fling, R.M. (2004). Library acquisition of music. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.

Fling's guide, like Maple and Morrow's book, fills in a gap in the collection development literature. As the only acquisition guide of its kind, it addresses the need for special knowledge required surrounding the peculiarities and idiosyncracies of music materials. In his introduction, Fling gives a brief review of both the general acquisitions literature, and the subset which deals with music materials (of which there is a "paucity", in his words).

The torso of the book treats the above-mentioned peculiarities in turn, which include the following: the publishing industry (for both print and recorded music); publisher's numbers (which in the music world do not conform to the uniformity of the ISBN); preorder searching and verification (which is crucial with music materials, due to the variety of manifestations that can exist for a given work, as well as the variability of titles); and finally, the secondhand and out-of-print market. Concerning the latter item, Fling gives two main reasons for including this chapter: the relatively short life-expectancy of heavily-used printed music, which calls for the need for replacement copies; and the even shorter publication life-span of many titles, which go out of print more and more quickly in the digital era. A chapter on miscellanea closes the book.

A basic music library :Essential scores and sound recordings (3rd ed.). (1997). Chicago: American Library Association.

This guide, essentially a compendium of checklists, is in its third edition, with a fourth to be released imminently. As suggested by its title, it is limited in scope to printed music and sound recordings. As stated in the preface, while selection guides for books are plentiful (several examples are given), guides for other formats which music libraries collect are not as copious.

The term "basic" is perhaps a misnomer; at a whopping 665 pages, BML (as it's known in music librarianship parlance) contains over 10,000 citations, many of which even the most comprehensive music libraries do not hold. Rather, this guide is a collection of much shorter lists, arranged by format and medium (scores) and genre (sound recordings). Thus, a library that strives for a strong collection in a specific area will find a list most suited to that area. Additionally, the citations in BML are identified according to collecting level: selective, midsize, and comprehensive. These categories are, to be sure, illustrative and not prescriptive.

The citations are listed in quasi-AACR2 style, to assist selectors and acquisitions staff in duplicate searching and pre-order verification.

Zager, D. (2007). Essential partners in collection development: Vendors and music librarians.Notes, 63, 565-575.

Zager's article discusses first the factors, both internal and external, that come in to play for selection of music materials. Among the internal factors are: the type of institution that the library serves; which curricula and areas of research are prominent; and budget. External factors include pricing and availability of materials (i.e. how quickly they go out of print), and ever-changing exchange rates. He then goes on to describe, in great detail, how approval plans fit into this selection framework. Though selection of books through an approval plan is not a unique task to music librarians, the selection of scores is a considerably more complex process, involving criteria well beyond mere subject area (as printed music, it can be argued, is not "about" anything).

Zager identifies several practical considerations for the music librarian while compiling or revising an approval plan. The most salient is that an approval plan budget should not diminish the amount of money available for discretionary purposes, as, since collecting priorities can change, flexibility is key (especially in smaller libraries). Related to this is the notion that an approval plan should bring in primarily those materials which would be firm-ordered anyway; in this way, it helps to save the selector's precious time. Zager's final area of commentary is on the selection of sound recordings. Since this format does not lend itself to an approval plan, the music librarian must rely on name recognition and perceived quality and prestige of certain composers, performers and labels. However, for the librarian with sufficient background knowledge in music, this is not an arcane task.

Among all the observations Zager makes, one in particular stands out prominently. This is that approval plans need not be restricted to large music libraries with generous budgets. Rather, they are extensible and flexible tools that, if designed well, can be of great utility to any librarian charged with collecting music.

Zager's contribution to the Music Library Association's special journal issue entitled "Music librarianship at the turn of the century" outlines the state of the art of collection development at the dawn of the digital age. He begins on a cynical note, lamenting the downgrading of such functions in an academic library environment in the face of the many myths surrounding the selector's role in an increasingly digital environment. He outlines several of these myths in turn: the obsolescence of print media, the imminent availability of the entire human intellectual record in digital form, and finally the defunct need for libraries to "own" physical copies, thus usurping the collection development librarian's role.

Despite this grim outlook, Zager notes that in the realm of music, the need for subject specialists is alive and well, what with the three-fold formats collected by most music libraries (books, scores and sound recordings). While the music bibliographer's job may not be in immediate jeopardy, however, it is fraught with several exigent challenges. Among these are stagnant materials budgets, ever-shrinking physical space and the concomitant need to relegate items to remote storage. Add to this the environment in which scholarly endeavor continues to proliferate and diversify, both in sheer numbers of books published per year and in the increasingly eclectic approaches to musical scholarship.

These and other challenges serve to only enhance the importance of the music collection development librarian's work (in James B. Coover's words, his "sacred professional trust"). Though on the surface, the implication here is of job security for such librarians, the deeper message is perhaps a clarion call to those in the profession, that their role in academe is not to be taken for granted.

Theil, G. (2003). The challenge of supporting current music research and instruction. Fontes artis musicae, 50, 106-113.

Theil, music librarian at the University of California at Los Angeles, traces several compelling and peculiar difficulties facing the modern music collection development librarian. Not least of these is the ever-increasing prominence of digital items, as both resources to be collected (or selectively filtered) and documents to be studied in their own right. As current licensing practices among purveyors of media increasingly preclude effective use of resources for purposes of instruction and study in an academic environment, the music librarian must maintain the resolve to collect physical copies (which can be owned rather than just "leased").

Even more perturbing is the resistance on the part of the faculty at UCLA, which Theil relates in the anecdote that opens the article. In spite of the increasing interest in fields of musicology outside of the "standard canon", music faculty were resistant to the idea of the library collecting resources which would support these areas. While this resistance has subsided somewhat with the advent of a new generation of faculty, a new challenge has emerged. When the object of study is no longer embodied in a corpus of historical documents, the reliance on these materials for research wanes; thus the role of the library in collecting and filtering appropriate resources must adapt accordingly. But when such documents are by their nature ephemeral, how will the music librarian approach their "selective chronological preservation?"

Druesedow, J. E. (2000). Reference sources. Notes, 56, 611-619.

This brief article, subtitled "The past fifty years: a variety of landmarks", is a concise survey of major events in the arena of music reference materials. Specifically, Druesedow traces the proliferation of new, ever-larger sources, since the World War II era. Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG) and the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians are the anchors, around which robust (if not comprehensive) and niche works have prospered as well. Regarding the latter, sources treating non-Western musics (Garland Encyclopedia of World Music), gender studies (Women in Music: An Encyclopedic Bibliography) and those with other cultural and faceted bents are mentioned.

In addition to tracing the recent past, Druesedow describes the ubiquity of online sources in the present, and prophesies their preponderance in the near future. To be sure, his "future" (from a turn-of-the-century perspective) is now our "present", and music libraries are now faced with a scholarly environment in which the user expects everything to be online. With efficiency, however, also comes a slight loss of confidence; after all, with continually-updated electronic resources, how is there to be a "last word" on anything, and how is scholarly endeavor to advance in a meaningful, compelling way?

Moore, T. (2000). Sound recordings. Notes, 56, 635-670.

In this article, Moore focuses on perhaps the most prominent transformation in collection development for the 21st-century music library. Whereas the acquisition of sound recordings was previously a fringe activity, intended to supplement print resources (books, journals and scores), such materials now constitute a core in and of themselves. Specifically, works of contemporary composers are almost exclusively disseminated via the sound recording medium. Indeed, all repertories (canonical and otherwise) are, in Moore's words, "disproprotionately well served by the recording industry." The cost barriers associated with production of high-quality sound recordings have not seemed to curtail the proliferation of titles available for purchase. This can be attributed in part to the globalization of trade; previously-unavailable recordings from distant lands are now easily attainable. With this embarassment of riches, however, comes increasing difficulty for the music selector, who must look well beyond traditional sources (journals such as Grammophone and Fanfare) in order to develop a well-balanced and complete collection.

The millenial time-stamp of this article is telling. Rather than giving prophesy to the future, Moore laments current uncertainties associated with electronically-disseminated sound recordings. At the time of writing (1999), he noted that "a large-scale transition towards virtual distribution of sound files over the Internet seems still quite distant." In 2008, not even a decade after this article's publication, the state of affairs couldn't be more different. Indeed, development of technologies associated with music consumption have been rampant, and the modern music librarian is faced with serving a patron base who are not only familiar and comfortable with this technology, but come to expect its convenience at all times and in all places. It remains to be seen how much longer current collection development practice for sound recordings will be sustainable. On the other hand, robust collections of physical sound recordings are not waning, but increasing exponentially.

Lubrano J. and Lubrano J. (2000). The antiquarian music market. Notes, 56641-647.

The two Lubranos (John and Jude) give a state-of-the-industry summary here. As prominent dealers in antiquarian music, they offer a vendor's perspective, but take a broad approach nonetheless. The theme of the article is the overall increasing activity in the antiquarian market (not least in music). This is apparently true despite current perceived trends in both consumerism and technology. For instance, though the internet offers manifold opportunities for researchers and other interested parties to view manuscripts and early editions of music electronically, the consumption of "hard copies" has not waned, but rather has increased. Indeed, the role of the private collector has contributed to the increasing values. Another recent development in the antiquarian music market, concomitant with the ubiquity of the internet, is the shift away from the interdependence of the dealer and the auctioneer. While the former has less of an access barrier for offering their inventories to a wider market, the latter has shifted its focus from large lots (sold at a "wholesale" price) to individual items, which are considerably more saleable in a globalized market.

These developments have interesting implications on music libraries. While the availability of digitized versions of these historical treasures can sometimes preclude the need for a library to own an analog copy, the expanded market allows for easier (if not cheaper) purchase of desired items. Furthermore, those libraries which own valuable manuscripts and early editions but no longer find them relevant to their collections, liquidation is a viable and lucrative option.