Music Library patrons have commented many times on the paper flags hanging in the library stacks this Fall, which are part of a relocation project that started in late summer. Starting December 14, flagged items will be loaded onto carts and relocated to the Libraries’ Annex facility. All told, around 15,000 titles will make the move and allow for collection growth over the next five to seven years.
What happens when something is sent to the Annex? Is it gone forever, or can I still borrow it?
You can still borrow it, and quite easily! Books and scores sent to the Annex are available per request through InfoHawk+, much like items held at other campus libraries like Main and Art. There will be a few months where items will not be available while they are processed and shelved at the Annex facility, but then they are easily requestable online and usually delivered to the library of your choice within 24-48 hours from the time of the request.
The Music Library did not open in 2016 with much space for collection growth. It was estimated that the book collection could grow for 5-7 years, and the score collection for 3-5 years (new libraries usually open with at least a 15-20 year growth factor). Following this relocation project, the book collection should be able to grow for up to ten years and the score collection for at least five years. The Annex facility was in the position to take a large shipment of items from the Music Library before the close of the calendar year, so that is why the collection is being evaluated and a portion relocated in 2018.
What items are moving?
The Libraries elected to evaluate items that were purchased before 2003 and which have not circulated since at least 2003 (or the 15-15 rule). That produced a list of 13,500 books and over 18,000 scores. The Library holds over 51,000 books and almost 95,000 scores, which means about 25% of the book collection and 19% of the score collection were evaluated. In the end, the Music Library is sending 8,100 books and around 7,000 scores to the Annex, or around 15% of the book collection and 7% of the score collection. Every single book and score that is being relocated has been physically opened and reviewed by the music librarian.
Here are some additional reasons why books or scores were selected to be relocated:
- Newer or better editions are available. This was especially true for scores, where many editions from the early 20th century have been superseded by newer editions. Newer editions also tend to be in better physical condition, so they can withstand the rigors of continued borrowing.
- Extra copies. Most copy 2s, 3s, etc. have been sent to the Annex. There are exceptions, because some extra copies see a great deal of use (e.g., piano literature).
- Older foreign language titles. This applied mainly to books, where many older items in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and other European languages were selected to go to storage. There are still many languages and authors from around the world represented across the book collection. However, most items in the collection held here on campus will be in English.
- Course curricula realignment. This was true for both books AND scores. For example, the musicology faculty and courses used to include much more study of medieval and early renaissance music, but now the coursework is more focused on American music and 18th to 21st century repertories. New curricular lines, such as the bachelor’s in Jazz, are areas where the Music Library must develop its collections to support future student and faculty needs. Another good example? The School does not offer degrees in classical guitar and harp, so most solo music in those areas has been sent to storage.
Here are some reasons that books or scores were kept on campus:
- Iowa connections. Scores by Iowa composers or alumni, or books written here in Iowa City or by graduates were largely kept in the stacks.
- Rare or unusual items. This includes items where the RBML was one of only a few holding libraries or where something about the item was of particular note were kept in the stacks. We even found a few items that will move into the Canter Rare Book Room, including a first edition full score of Felix Mendelssohn’s Oedipus in Kolonos, op. 93 from 1852.
- Maintain balance in the collection. While the collection did need to be reviewed and items relocated, it still needed to be “browsable” so that a student, scholar, or performer could go to the stacks and look through a particular call number and see a reasonable representation of literature on a topic or literature to study and perform. There were times when it was more prudent to keep unused items here on campus because their removal would have eliminated a particular perspective on a topic or thinned the types of composition available for a particular instrument or voice. For example, women composers are already underrepresented in the collection, and removal of their music to storage would only exacerbate the problem. The collection is more balanced when their music is retained in the browsable stacks here on campus.
A few final thoughts:
Relocating materials to the Library Annex is not the same as weeding them. Those materials are still available to be checked out, they just must be couriered to campus first. A very small stack of items were weeded from the collection during this process due to damage. This project has helped the Music Library to review the condition, usability, balance, and overall health of its collections. Items can be returned to campus if, indeed, a major mistake has been made or changes to the curriculum require such a move. If you have questions about this process or the results, please contact Head of the Rita Benton Music Library, Katie Buehner at firstname.lastname@example.org.