The task of building music library collections necessarily involves the vendors who sell to our libraries the scores, books, journals (whether in printed or electronic formats), and recordings that enable the users of music libraries to make, study, and listen to a rich panoply of music in various styles and genres—without chronological or geographical limits. Imagine for the moment that a superior music library vendor abruptly and without warning decides that the time has come to close down, to dissolve the business. What does the music librarian lose? Clearly, one loses a business entity that can deliver the goods to libraries by way of firm orders, standing orders, subscriptions, or approval plans. That loss is obvious. What is perhaps less obvious is that the music librarian also stands to lose important services in terms of bibliographic information and notification of new publications, whether that information comes by way of printed notification slips, lists of new publications, catalogs, or by way of electronic files, an extensive and well-organized Web site, or even advertisements in a music journal such as Notes. Furthermore, vendors often send publisher catalogs and brochures as yet another means to notify librarians of new publications. If a vendor goes out of business the music librarian loses both goods and services—bibliographic services on which our collection development activities depend. After a general consideration of the selection process, this article focuses on the partnership between vendors and music librarians as seen in approval plans, and in vendor-supplied bibliographic information that serves as a complement to published reviews. [End Page 565]
The Selection Process
Viewed objectively, the selection process entails myriad decisions evaluating the nature of published music materials in the context of a host of internal and external factors. External factors are those that reside outside the institution where the selector is working; internal factors refer to the institutional context and include most prominently: (1) the type of institution, (2) the nature of curricula or communities, and (3) matters of budget. Such internal and external factors make selection of materials a highly individual process that varies significantly from one institution to the next.
The type of institution to which a music library or music collection is attached varies considerably in the academic arena.1 At the risk of generalizing, it is still fair, I think, to distinguish among (1) the comprehensive school of music, (2) the conservatory, and (3) the department of music. The comprehensive school of music (for the most part a uniquely American phenomenon) includes the study of composition, performance, music education, music theory, and musicology within a single administrative entity, usually including the full range of undergraduate and graduate (masters and doctoral) degree programs. The conservatory of music most often emphasizes performance and composition, with a supporting role (rather than separate degree programs) for music theory and musicology. The department of music is perhaps the most variable of the three types of institutions cited here, but most often the study of composition, music theory, and musicology are more prominent than is a full range of performance degree programs for all instruments, with faculty specialists for each performance area. Making music—whether in large ensembles, chamber music, or solo performance—is important in the department of music, but it is less of a focus in this context than in the conservatory or comprehensive school of music. Some of the strongest research programs in music theory and musicology are to be found in the department of music context.
These different types of music institutions will, of course, exhibit different emphases in their degree programs and curricula—internal factors that play an important role in the selection of music library materials. [End Page 566] What may be essential for a conservatory library, e.g., a broad range of orchestral excerpt books, may be of much less importance in a music library serving a department of music focused on musicological and theoretical work. Conversely, the musicological...