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A Sign of the Times?

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I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

 

The city where I live is big enough for the central library to have a separate music department. When I first came here, over a quarter of a century ago, there were two or three shelves of organ music. Many years ago now I stumbled across the staff moving a good deal of it out of sight, down to the stacks. "We just don't have the space to display everything," was the excuse. It's true space is at a premium, but I was left thinking it has just as much to do with priorities. A few months ago there was an internal reorganisation of the whole library and, as a result, the organ music section disappeared from the display shelves entirely.

 

Today when I went in I noticed they were having a grand sale of surplus books and, yes, it didn't take long to find quite a bit of organ music there too, all going at £1.50 an item. I came away with as much as I could carry. It's good stuff too: symphonies by Vierne, Widor and Guilmant, two OUP volumes of Percy Whitlock and one of Mathias, a couple of volumes of Frescobaldi and more. Hell, I even bought two volumes of Reger! Most of it is unmarked and little borrowed, while some of it is in absolutely mint condition with no sign that borrowing slips have ever been attached. I guess when libraries are pushed for space in the lending department you can't blame them for getting rid of items which attract little interest, but I can't help feeling it's a sad state of affairs.

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I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

 

The city where I live is big enough for the central library to have a separate music department. When I first came here, over a quarter of a century ago, there were two or three shelves of organ music. Many years ago now I stumbled across the staff moving a good deal of it out of sight, down to the stacks. "We just don't have the space to display everything," was the excuse. It's true space is at a premium, but I was left thinking it has just as much to do with priorities. A few months ago there was an internal reorganisation of the whole library and, as a result, the organ music section disappeared from the display shelves entirely.

 

Today when I went in I noticed they were having a grand sale of surplus books and, yes, it didn't take long to find quite a bit of organ music there too, all going at £1.50 an item. I came away with as much as I could carry. It's good stuff too: symphonies by Vierne, Widor and Guilmant, two OUP volumes of Percy Whitlock and one of Mathias, a couple of volumes of Frescobaldi and more. Hell, I even bought two volumes of Reger! Most of it is unmarked and little borrowed, while some of it is in absolutely mint condition with no sign that borrowing slips have ever been attached. I guess when libraries are pushed for space in the lending department you can't blame them for getting rid of items which attract little interest, but I can't help feeling it's a sad state of affairs.

 

=============================

 

 

Think yourself lucky that it survived that long. In my home town, both the organ section and most of the music library disappeared perhaps three decades ago, thank to the dreaded and utterly artless Bradford MDC. Before that, the Chief Librarian of the former Bradford Council, was a certain Mr MacDonald; the father to the late organist Charles MacDonald. At that time, Bradford Library had a magnificent collection of organ-music, as did most city libraries.

 

However, we shouldn't feel paranoid, because all the top-class engineering books also disappeared around the same time, and as my brother points out, they educated generations of highly skilled professinal engineers.

 

It seems to me that dumbing down and creating a "more welcoming; more open-plan space" has served absolutely no purpose whatsoever, and in my home town, a fortune was spent "restoring" the old Carnegie library, to the extent that it is now almost unrecognisable. No one bothers to go in, except school-students who sit at computer desks.

 

Should we be surprised?

 

Well yes, actually. Last year, I tried to work out the approximate value of my music-stock and academic books.

 

It works out at around a staggering £40,000, and I know of organists who have double the quantity of my own collection. I even have lithograph music volumes going back to around 1840.

 

It seems to me, that the great colllctions are now once more in private hands, save for the universities, and for instance, a former American partner of mine, (a Uni lectirer in English Litt & Languages), has a collection of books going back to the earliest days of print, which I would very conservatively estimate to be worth in excess of £500,000 and possibly an awful lot more.

(The music section alone would be the envy of many universirty libraries).

 

How interesting it is, that the age of "dumbing down" coincided with "modern socialism," while the once great libraries were either donated or supported by wealthy industrialists who valued education, and who saw to it that knowledge was made available to all.

The trade unions and trade institutions also played a very significant part; my home town once having a "Mechanic's Institute" with its own extensive library of top quality, standard works.

 

Whilst I recognise the significance of electronic media and communications, I just wonder if knowledge is now rather too superficial and too readily available in a watered-down format under the heading of "General Knowledge and Media Study."

 

This struck me to-day, when I was talking to a very bright physics undergraduate at Durham University.

 

When he learned that I studied music and played the organ, he said,"That's a strange instrument to want to learn and play."

 

Have we become that marginalised, I wonder, and if so, why?

 

Is it because "knowledge" now operates as a fashion accessory to those who are prisoners or their own minds and hostage to their limited experiences?

 

I would have thought that a well padded cell is better than bare walls, and even prisoners once had good libraries at their disposal.

 

MM

 

 

 

“All knowledge is precious whether or not it serves the slightest human use.” A E Housman

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I even bought two volumes of Reger!

 

========================

 

 

At last, the dawning of a new enlightenment!

 

 

MM

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=============================

 

 

Think yourself lucky that it survived that long. In my home town, both the organ section and most of the music library disappeared perhaps three decades ago, thank to the dreaded and utterly artless Bradford MDC. Before that, the Chief Librarian of the former Bradford Council, was a certain Mr MacDonald; the father to the late organist Charles MacDonald. At that time, Bradford Library had a magnificent collection of organ-music, as did most city libraries.

 

However, we shouldn't feel paranoid, because all the top-class engineering books also disappeared around the same time, and as my brother points out, they educated generations of highly skilled professinal engineers.

 

It seems to me that dumbing down and creating a "more welcoming; more open-plan space" has served absolutely no purpose whatsoever, and in my home town, a fortune was spent "restoring" the old Carnegie library, to the extent that it is now almost unrecognisable. No one bothers to go in, except school-students who sit at computer desks.

 

Should we be surprised?

 

Well yes, actually. Last year, I tried to work out the approximate value of my music-stock and academic books.

 

It works out at around a staggering £40,000, and I know of organists who have double the quantity of my own collection. I even have lithograph music volumes going back to around 1840.

 

It seems to me, that the great colllctions are now once more in private hands, save for the universities, and for instance, a former American partner of mine, (a Uni lectirer in English Litt & Languages), has a collection of books going back to the earliest days of print, which I would very conservatively estimate to be worth in excess of £500,000 and possibly an awful lot more.

(The music section alone would be the envy of many universirty libraries).

 

How interesting it is, that the age of "dumbing down" coincided with "modern socialism," while the once great libraries were either donated or supported by wealthy industrialists who valued education, and who saw to it that knowledge was made available to all.

The trade unions and trade institutions also played a very significant part; my home town once having a "Mechanic's Institute" with its own extensive library of top quality, standard works.

 

Whilst I recognise the significance of electronic media and communications, I just wonder if knowledge is now rather too superficial and too readily available in a watered-down format under the heading of "General Knowledge and Media Study."

 

This struck me to-day, when I was talking to a very bright physics undergraduate at Durham University.

 

When he learned that I studied music and played the organ, he said,"That's a strange instrument to want to learn and play."

 

Have we become that marginalised, I wonder, and if so, why?

 

Is it because "knowledge" now operates as a fashion accessory to those who are prisoners or their own minds and hostage to their limited experiences?

 

I would have thought that a well padded cell is better than bare walls, and even prisoners once had good libraries at their disposal.

 

MM

 

 

 

“All knowledge is precious whether or not it serves the slightest human use.” A E Housman

 

I agree that this is a very sad state of affairs.

 

Many years ago, I used to make regular visits to Bradford Central Library to borrow LPs of organ music, a surprising proportion of which had actually been borrowed and, presumably, listened to by others.

 

I hesitate to mention this, but I recorded many to tape cassettes. Unfortunately, tape cassettes are probably the worst possible medium for recorded music and mine are hardly worth listening to now.

 

I haven't been there for a very long time now, but I'm willing to bet that you will not now find a single recording of organ music (I assume it's all CDs now).

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When the local librarian left, he was replaced by an accountant. The local paper quoted him as saying, "What is the point of a library without a poor collection of books?" and now I don't think that was a typo. I bought a lot of organ music at bargain prices. All of the useful science books went as well; there was to be nothing as advanced as O-level standard.

 

The University where I worked was a new one, and when the Music Subject Group was created, the library bought complete Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, etc, although I don't think that they got as far as Zipoli. The musicians (?) soon lost all interest in anything written before 1900, and most of what was written before 1950. They started with 12-tone and then became more mathematical. Very few people ever looked at the "old" music books, but they were all "not to be borrowed" as they were regarded as a reference collection, so the music was never played.

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I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

 

The city where I live is big enough for the central library to have a separate music department. When I first came here, over a quarter of a century ago, there were two or three shelves of organ music. Many years ago now I stumbled across the staff moving a good deal of it out of sight, down to the stacks. "We just don't have the space to display everything," was the excuse. It's true space is at a premium, but I was left thinking it has just as much to do with priorities. A few months ago there was an internal reorganisation of the whole library and, as a result, the organ music section disappeared from the display shelves entirely.

 

Today when I went in I noticed they were having a grand sale of surplus books and, yes, it didn't take long to find quite a bit of organ music there too, all going at £1.50 an item. I came away with as much as I could carry. It's good stuff too: symphonies by Vierne, Widor and Guilmant, two OUP volumes of Percy Whitlock and one of Mathias, a couple of volumes of Frescobaldi and more. Hell, I even bought two volumes of Reger! Most of it is unmarked and little borrowed, while some of it is in absolutely mint condition with no sign that borrowing slips have ever been attached. I guess when libraries are pushed for space in the lending department you can't blame them for getting rid of items which attract little interest, but I can't help feeling it's a sad state of affairs.

 

Sad state of affairs it is. It was a great consolation to find that the Henry Watson Music Library of the Manchester Central Library has

been temporarily re-located http://manchester.gov.uk/info/1015/books_r...62/henry_watson

Tempo Primo.

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At last, the dawning of a new enlightenment!

Well, having sight-read my way through the Op.67 chorale preludes last night, I have to concede that they're technically high quality stuff - but it doesn't alter my opinion that Reger is the musical equivalent of irritable bowel syndrome.

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Sad state of affairs it is. It was a great consolation to find that the Henry Watson Music Library of the Manchester Central Library has

been temporarily re-located http://manchester.gov.uk/info/1015/books_r...62/henry_watson

Tempo Primo.

 

 

=============================

 

 

My former academic partner used to say that there were certain libraries in the UK (and America) which stocked all printed books, and I have a recollection that the Bodleian and Machester were two of them. If that's so, Manchester is safe it would seem. (Does anyone know the facts about this? I am no library expert).

 

Further to my rant about the state of libraries, the further thought occured that of all subjects, music is the one least likely to be found on line, other than out of copyright music manuscripts. It means that music is now largely beyond the reach of almost all, unless they are prepared to pay vast sums of money or dig around looking for second-hand copies of things still within copyright.

 

MM

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Brighton has acquired a brand new, modern, purpose built library in the past ten years or so. I don't often go in there because the facilities are so bad and they appear to provide almost everything except books. We, at one time had a separate, quite large music library, with lots of sheet music, staffed by people who knew about music (the one in Hove was run by an Oxford music graduate who was a very fine pianist) but all we have in the new library is about one aisle of shelving with hardly any sheet music at all.

 

Malcolm

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=============================

 

 

My former academic partner used to say that there were certain libraries in the UK (and America) which stocked all printed books, and I have a recollection that the Bodleian and Machester were two of them. If that's so, Manchester is safe it would seem. (Does anyone know the facts about this? I am no library expert).

 

Further to my rant about the state of libraries, the further thought occured that of all subjects, music is the one least likely to be found on line, other than out of copyright music manuscripts. It means that music is now largely beyond the reach of almost all, unless they are prepared to pay vast sums of money or dig around looking for second-hand copies of things still within copyright.

 

MM

 

I understand that the University libraries of both Oxford and Cambridge are ones at which a copy of every newly published book must be deposited (I don't know about sheet music). I think they're called 'legal depositories'.

 

There may be others, but I hadn't heard of Manchester being one. Perhaps the British Library?

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=============================

 

 

My former academic partner used to say that there were certain libraries in the UK (and America) which stocked all printed books, and I have a recollection that the Bodleian and Machester were two of them. If that's so, Manchester is safe it would seem. (Does anyone know the facts about this? I am no library expert).

 

Further to my rant about the state of libraries, the further thought occured that of all subjects, music is the one least likely to be found on line, other than out of copyright music manuscripts. It means that music is now largely beyond the reach of almost all, unless they are prepared to pay vast sums of money or dig around looking for second-hand copies of things still within copyright.

 

MM

There is a legal requirement that a copy of every book published in the UK MUST be deposited with the BL. Five other libraries can request a copy within one year of publication. They are the Bodlean Library, Oxford; Cambridge Univ Library; Nat Library of Scotland; Nat Library of Wales and Library of Trinity College, Dublin. For obvious reasons, the last of these has been challenged recently.

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The official list is shown here. Note that publishers are only required to send automatically to the British Library; the others have right to request free copies of any publication, but must do it within a year.

 

Paul

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The official list is shown here. Note that publishers are only required to send automatically to the British Library; the others have right to request free copies of any publication, but must do it within a year.

 

Paul

 

 

========================

 

Thanks for the link Paul.

 

MM

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Staffordshire's library website has a section which allows you to search for a book and order it from a range of places, including the British Library and Trinity, Dublin. I tried to get hold of the Edmundson via this route (but unofficial channels worked better, thanks!).

They are very particular about getting them returned on time, but the system does work, including music. And it's free!

 

I assume other library services do something similar? Have a look!

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The official list is shown here. Note that publishers are only required to send automatically to the British Library; the others have right to request free copies of any publication, but must do it within a year.

 

Paul

 

The other libraries certainly used to employ an agent who was in the habit of demanding copies on their behalf. Whether this still goes on I dont know.

 

The BL also seems to have an extensive stock of music published overseas, too; whenever I have requested obscure foreign stuff it has come from Boston Spa. The problem with inter-library loans is that they are for only two weeks (which I think begins when your local library tells you the item is available for collection) and cannot be renewed; there is, therefore, insufficient time to learn the piece.

 

I used to get a lot of stuff on inter-library loan when Bradford charged £1 an item, but then they put it up to something like £9. I don't suppose they get many requests these days.

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I used to get a lot of stuff on inter-library loan when Bradford charged £1 an item, but then they put it up to something like £9. I don't suppose they get many requests these days.

 

Well - I've certainly stopped using Bradford libraries for inter-library loans. The price hike is ludicrous.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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