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A Guide to Music Resources

Guide for all aspects of music research and study.

Music Collection Development Policy

Washington University Libraries / Collection Development Policy

Music Library Collection

Date revised June 23, 2023

Part 1: Introduction and Description

  1. General purpose

To collect music materials necessary for the academic and intellectual pursuits of the Washington University community.

The collection aims to support the curricula and programs across the campus and in particular, the Music Department from B.A. and B.M. degrees level up through the M.A. and Ph.D. in Music, with concentrations in Musicology, Ethnomusicology and Music Theory.

The Music Library collection seeks to meet the music information needs of the Washington University community by providing an inclusive collection that does not privilege one tradition over another.  To that end, the Library collects music books, scores, recordings, manuscripts, and research collections for faculty and student scholarship that celebrate the creativity of all peoples.  See the Libraries’ IDEA statement ( for details.

There is little overlap with other collections or subjects other than some vernacular materials in the Islamic Studies and East Asian Studies collections.

  1. Overview of the Music Collection

The Music Library honors General Clifford A. Gaylord who was, until his death in 1952, a member of the Washington University Corporation. With the completion of the Gaylord building in 1960, the music library moved from Blewett Hall, found a new home, and has since developed into a major resource.

The Music Library houses:

Music book collection (Circulating books, reference materials, bound periodicals)

Score collection (Circulating scores, Monuments)

A/V collection (CDs, DVDs, microfilms)

Music Library Special collections include:

Music manuscript collections

Washington University composers

Select St. Louis and local composers and musicians

Sheet music collection includes:

St. Louis publishers

St. Louis and Missouri composers and topics (e.g. 1904 World’s Fair)

19th and 20th Century popular musics

Music rare books and scores includes:

Ernst C. Krohn collection

Mozart & Beethoven first and early editions


West Campus Library houses:

LP collection

Superseded editions

Outdated reference works

Duplicate copies of performance scores

Lesser-used materials

  1. Criteria guiding selection decisions
    1. Materials that directly support immediate curricular needs of all departments and programs receive top priority.
    2. Materials that support any faculty and student research receive the next priority.
    3. Materials related to academic activities across the campus community.
    4. Materials that add to a fuller reflection and documentation of music in human expression especially those with local and regional connections.

  1. Mechanisms for collecting and access

Firm orders for faculty and student requests and general acquisitions (controlled by the Music Librarian)

Library funds 

Books and eBooks



Music Department funds  (same categories as above)

Subscriptions (managed by the Music Librarian and Head of Collections)


Print and eJournals


Standing orders


Monographic series

Automatic shipment plans (managed by the Music Librarian and Head of Collections)

GOBI (only English language books and eBooks)

Harrassowitz (small plan for major German books)

Consortia agreements

MOBIUS and Interlibrary Loan – The music collection relies heavily on consortia partners to borrow materials needed for faculty and students.  Therefore, most music materials are illegible for loan with the exceptions of rare materials and monuments.


The obvious restrictions include budget reductions, availability, price increases, physical space limitations, and the addition of new academic programs requiring library support without additional funding.

Part 2: Summary of Scope and Formats

  1. Languages included and excluded
    All languages are included provided a current faculty member or student has that language facility.  For general textual materials, Western European languages are preferred with a strong preference given to English-language.  Basic materials and materials intended to support undergraduate course work are English-language materials.

  1. Geographical limitations
    There are no set geographical limitations in regard to requests or specific projects.  Historically, the focus of the collection was on the US and major European music traditions, but as the Department expands its curriculum, so too has the Library collection.

  1. Chronological limits

  1. Retrospective acquisition
    Retrospective acquisitions are required for some types of research and study.  Often the only available materials (books, scores and sound recordings) are older/rare materials and will be considered for purchase.
  2. Types of material collected and excluded
    All types of relevant materials in all formats will be considered with preference given to currently supported formats.

    1. Outdated formats (LPs, VHS, cassettes, microfilms, etc.) are collected only upon request for specific projects and as a last resort.

  1. Subjects excluded
    Topics not actively taught at the University or in the Music Department; including areas such as music therapy, early childhood and music education, and graduate level performance studies.

  1. Gifts
    1. The Music Librarian makes the decision on accepting most gifts.  However, large gifts are accepted after consultation of the Associate Librarian for Collections and/or the Head of Collections.

  1. Deaccessioning
    1. Damaged materials, duplicate copies, superseded editions and outdated reference works will be considered for deaccessioning through the Library’s regular Deaccessioning Policy and procedures.

  1. Other factors to consider:

Textbooks: Are acquired selectively.

Periodicals: New subscriptions are started with great care.  In most cases, funds to pay for new subscriptions will need to be offset by cancelling existing subscriptions.

Digital downloads: At this time the Library does not have the capacity to purchase/host digital downloads.

Rental materials: The library does not fund performance rental materials but will add rental scores from publishers who allow for, and supply such purchases.

Photocopies and dups: Only authorized copies supplied by the publisher/copyright holder will be added to the collection.

Monuments:  The so-called “monuments” collections include composer collected works and sets dedicated to a particular theme.  These scores are typically produced with accompanying scholarly apparatuses that make them the most authoritative scores.

“Urtext” performance scores:  High value performance scores that the most significant sources (composer’s manuscripts, corrected publisher proofs, etc.) in creating the edition.  Often, these scores contain performance markings and fingers of prior faculty which make them invaluable to current faculty and students.

Repertoire performance scores:  These scores are used heavily by students taking lessons and are not necessarily considered as permanent additions to the collection.  Rather, there is an expectation that they will be replaced with new copies/editions over the years as they become worn.  It is usually better to purchase replacement copies of these score rather than repairing/rebinding, etc.

Teaching performance scores:  Method books are used by those learning or mastering an instrument.  These scores also include works by lesser-known composers whose work is appropriate for student performance.  These are purchased at the request of faculty.

Performing ensemble materials: The Music Library acquires performance materials for ensembles up to nine players.  Orchestral, band, jazz charts, choral octavos are acquired by the Music Department and are maintained in the Department’s own collections.

Sound recordings:  With the subscription of online audio service such as Naxos, we have had the opportunity to rethink how sound recordings are collected.  Sound recordings are added to the collection mostly on an “as requested” basis.  CDs are purchased to support teaching and research.  Only those LPs with the highest level of significance for teaching and research (and not available in other formats) will be added.  78s, reel-to-reel and other older formats are added only if they have archival significance to the collection or university programs.  Off-air, home recordings, and non-commercial recordings are not acquired.

Video recordings:  At this point, DVDs are collected much like sound recordings above with the caveat that we currently do not have an online equivalent for music online videos (operas, musicals, ethnographic, jazz and classical performances) other than the general resource: Academic Video Online.