Music Collection Development Policy
Bobst Library, New York University
Kent Underwood, Music Librarian
The music collection supports the educational and cultural missions of New York University, whose collective interests embrace the musics of all peoples, all places, and all times. This broad imperative constitutes the core purpose of the library’s music collections; the rest is emphasis, refinement, and commentary.
NYU offers music studies through the School of Arts and Sciences, the Steinhardt School of Education, the Tisch School of the Arts, the Gallatin School of Individualized Study and the School of Continuing Education, with degree programs as follows:
|General Music||FAS (Music major and music minor)||---||---|
|Music Composition||FAS + Steinhardt||FAS + Steinhardt||FAS + Steinhardt|
|Performance: instrumental (brass, woodwinds, strings, percussion, piano)||Steinhardt||Steinhardt||Steinhardt|
|Performance: vocal (music theatre & classical)||Steinhardt||Steinhardt||Steinhardt|
|Music Therapy||Steinhardt||Steinhardt (also post-masters certificate)||---|
|Musical Theatre: Performance||TSOA||---||---|
|Musical Theatre: Writing||---||TSOA||---|
Besides music-centered degrees, music is basic to the “Expressive Culture: Sounds” segment of the MAP sequence; Gallatin course designs often incorporate music; and SCE offers a variety of music-related courses each year. Throughout the university, music is routinely part of teaching and research in acting, dance, design, drama, cinema, performance studies, anthropology, area studies (Africana, American, East Asian, Hebrew and Judaic, Hellenic, Latin American and Caribbean), and more.
Bobst Library houses the archive of the American Institute for Verdi Studies, affiliated with the FAS Department of Music. The music collecting policy supports the Institute's work through its intensive acquisition of print and recorded materials relating to the life, work, and world of Giuseppe Verdi.
English is primary; other Western languages are considered indispensable for advanced graduate studies; and no language is excluded for essential materials related to a particular topic.
The music policy maintains its long-standing commitment to Western traditions, especially musics of the United States.
Coverage of world musics (Latin American, African, and Asian) is both substantive and broad, culturally and internationally.
Recognizing the library's special responsibility to document localia, particular attention is given to musicians associated with NYU and to the music of Downtown New York City. The latter commitment is deep and has been reinforced in recent years with the establishment of the Downtown collection in the Fales Library.
All historical periods are collected in representative balance, but with added stress on the music of recent and contemporary times.
Types of Materials
Books, periodicals, scores, microforms, sound recordings, video recordings, and electronic formats are all included under the music policy.
Concentration is on academic publishers and scholarly monographs, with general-interest books as well as dissertations (including "published" dissertations) collected more selectively as justified by their topical significance and quality of content. Single copies are generally the rule. Successive editions are routinely acquired; unrevised reprints (when originals are already held) only exceptionally so. Textbooks that meet a curricular need or that serve as essential introductions to a subject (as is often the case in music) are selectively acquired.
As with books, the emphasis is on academic/scholarly titles, with a more selective approach to journalistic/popular periodicals based on their centrality to the topic (especially, obviously, for popular music).
Scholarly anthologies and collected editions of composers are intensively acquired. For the major composers, complete works are the aim; concurrently, the policy strives to represent the whole of musical culture and history contextually through a meaningful selection of secondary and minor artists. For the most important composers and works, multiple editions are appropriate, with special attention to new critical editions. The library maintains a core collection of solo and chamber music for performance purposes; otherwise, study and full scores are preferred. Facsimiles of manuscripts and of historically important printed sources are a high priority.
Like scores, the overall aim of the sound recordings collection is to represent musical arts throughout the world and throughout history with a scope and depth appropriate to the educational mandates of the University. For Western classical music, performance is an important dimension in itself, so that a choice of interpretations is the rule for the core repertory, as is a systematic, though selective attention to the major performers themselves. For all musics outside the Western classical milieu, the policy recognizes the extraordinary importance of recordings as the primary source sine qua non in documenting traditions in which written notation plays little or no part.
The objective and scope are the same as for sound recordings. See also the Avery Fisher Center collection development policy.
Selection of these materials (understood as of this writing primarily to be internet-delivered) is based on content, according to the same criteria as for conventional books, scores, or recordings.
Entirely Excluded (except as part of archival collections)
- Sets of orchestral and choral parts
- Single song sheets
- 78 rpm discs
- Open-reel audio tapes
- Parts without scores (exceptions: historically important primary sources or modern works for which parts are the only available format)
- Non-academic or ephemeral writings (except when these have substantial value as primary sources or when they contribute essentially to the definition of a subject's collection level as indicated in Part VI below)
- Highly specialized materials for individual dissertations or for individual faculty research
Strengths & Weaknesses of the Collection
The archive of the American Institute for Verdi Studies houses a collection of primary source materials on Giuseppe Verdi, mostly on microfilm but internationally peerless in its completeness. It includes music, librettos, letters, institutional records, periodicals, and more. Bobst Library’s general and special collections are also exceptionally strong in Verdi-related printed books and scores, as well as audio and video recordings.
A retrospective collection-building program, pursued throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, has solidified the music collection systematically at its foundations and has successfully remedied the major deficiencies identified in the music librarian's collection-review report of March, 1992 and in the last collection development policy revision of 1995. A persistent weakness even today, however, is a not insubstantial number of pre-1990 publications that are out of print and cannot, within the limits of practicality, be acquired any longer. Concurrently during the last decade, the maturation and stabilization of the materials budget has brought the “current” and “desirable” collecting levels (as detailed in the conspectus below) mostly into balance throughout the collecting categories, although with some significant retrospective work still to be done in the folk-traditional and some other areas. Thus, the collecting policy is supported by the resources needed for the library to keep pace with the university’s evolving academic interests. As we move forward, the music selector’s challenge under this policy, primarily, is to maintain momentum and quality with respect to new publications; secondarily, to continue enriching our retrospective holdings until, ideally, all the “existing” and “desirable” levels achieve parity.
Music studies at NYU in the coming decade will connect richly and intricately to many other disciplines—notably: ethnic and area studies, anthropology, cultural history, performance studies, dance, cinema, art history, computer science, electronic technology, and business; consequently, the library’s music collections will have many points of intersection with materials collected in those other fields.
In a more general way, the music policy takes into account the proximity of the Performing Arts Research Library of New York Public Library, still without peer for its unique research collections despite some erosion in its traditional status as a library of record in music. NYU's membership in the Research Libraries Group and other consortia is also significant, inasmuch as patrons with specialized research needs for materials not collected by Bobst are still adequately served through interlibrary loan or referral.
Conspectus: Subjects & Collection Levels
ECS = Existing Collection Strength
CCL = Current Collecting Level
DCL = Desirable Collecting Level
0 = Out of scope; not collected
A = Basic/general studies level
B = Undergraduate studies level
C = Masters and beginning/qualifying doctoral level
D = Advanced doctoral and post post-doctoral level (exhaustive in its inclusion of published materials)
E = Archival/special collections level (exhaustive or uniquely deep in its inclusion of unpublished materials)
Books by Genre of Topic
ECS CCL DCL Reference Books C+ C+ C+ Dictionaries and Encyclopedias C+ C+ C+ Bibliographies C+ C+ C+ Indexes and Abstracts C+ C+ C+ Catalogs of Composers C+ C+ C+ Catalogs of Libraries C+ C+ C+ Catalogs of Exhibitions, Dealers, &c. C C C Discographies C+ C+ C+ Directories, Almanacs, Yearbooks, &c. C C C Theory and Methodology of Music Scholarship (Musicology, Ethnomusicology, &c.) C+ C+ C+ Music Theory and Analysis C+ C+ C+ History of Music Theory C+ C+ C+ Physics of Music, Acoustics, and Tuning C+ C+ C+ Psychology and Physiology of Music C+ C+ C+ Sociology of Music C+ C+ C+ Women’s and Gender-Related Studies C+ C+ C+ Philosophy and Aesthetics of Music C+ C+ C+ Business and Industry of Music C+ C+ C+ Music Printing and Publishing C+ C+ C+ Music Technology C+ C+ C+ Musical Instruments C+ C+ C+ Music in Art C C+ C+ Music Therapy C+ C+ C+ Music Education C+ C+ C+ Vocal and Instrumental Technique C C C Performance Practice C+ C+ C+ Stage Production C C C Librettos to Operas and Musicals C+ C+ C+ Lyrics and Texts to Songs and Choral Works C C+ C+ Juvenile Literature on Music A A A
Scores by Genre of Topic
ECS CCL DCL Anthologies, Monument Sets, &c. C+ C+ C+ Collected Works of Composers C+ C+ C+ Study or Full Scores C+ C+ C+ Piano-vocal and Piano-choral Reductions C C C Piano Reductions of Instrumental Works B+ C C Chamber Music Parts B+ C C Choral Parts 0 0 0 Song Sheets 0 0 0 Orchestral and Band Parts 0 0 0 Facsimiles of Manuscripts C+ D D Facsimiles of Historical Printed Editions C+ D D
Music History and Literature
In each of the three columns (ECS, CCL, and DCL) the three values are for books, scores, and sound recordings respectively.
Western Classical Music (by Period) ECS CCL DCL General Surveys/Music Appreciation C/C/C C/C/C C/C/C Antiquity C/C/C C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Medieval C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Renaissance C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Baroque C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Classic C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Romantic C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Verdi E/E/D E/E/D E/E/D Modern, to 1945 C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Modern and Postmodern, since 1945 C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Downtown music C+/C+/C+ D/D/D D/D/D NYU composers D-/D-/D- D/D/D D/D/D Western Music (by Selected Genres) ECS CCL DCL Opera C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Musical Theatre C+/C+/C+ D/D/D D/D/D Electroacoustic Music C+/C+/C+ D/D/D+ D/D/D+ Liturgical Plainsong C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C C+/C+/C+ Jazz & Blues C+/C/C C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Rock, Pop, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Hip Hop C/C/C C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ Country B/B/B B/B/B C/C/C Film & Television Music C+/B+/C C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ History of Sound Recordings C+/--/C C+/--/C C+/--/C+ Folk, Traditional, and Non-Western Classical Music ECS CCL DCL Sub-Saharan Africa C/C/C C+/C+/C+ C+/C+/C+ North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia C/C/C C/C/C+ C+/C+/C+ South Asia C/C/C C/C/C C+/C+/C+ Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania C/C/C C/C/C C+/C+/C+ Latin America & Caribbean C/C/C C+/C/C C+/C+/C+ North America C+/C/C C+/C/C C+/C+/C+ Europe C/C/C C/C/C C/C/C Irish and Irish American C/C/D C+/C+/D C+/C+/D