Thursday, 22 September 2016

Musical musings

Is that music I hear?...
FreeImages.com/dennis bos
Recently there was a question to the, always helpful, LIS-ILL email list about how people handle requests for music sets via their inter-library loans service so to distract me from Welcome Week busyness and refurbishment banging / drilling I thought I would blog about our approach to Music interlending here at University of Reading.

We usually receive requests for this kind of material from the person who coordinates the University chorus and orchestra, but any Library member is eligible to request a music set. Requests are normally for:

  • Vocal sets: multiple copies of the same SATB music score for the choir. SATB scores (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Base) have a musical stave for each singer’s part, plus a stave showing the accompaniment.
  • Orchestral sets: has one or more copies of the part for each instrument in the orchestra, plus a sore for the conductor. 

The first step is for us to establish their requirements. Different to other types of request we need specific information as to the arrangement of the music they want, how many copies they need (if they are requesting a vocal score set) and also how long they will need it for.

Like playing music, we find that music interlending is all about timing! We build in a 1-2 week lead time, to allow us time to count and collate all the parts, and a 4-6 week post-concert period to allow the coordinator to retrieve all the parts. In the past we’ve found that concerts being at the end of term can mean that performers go home for Christmas or Easter taking their parts with them and we often don’t get them returned until the first week of the new term so having a bit of extra leeway is handy.

The next step is to find locations and request your loan - we use ENCORE! The British Union Catalogue of Performance Music Sets to find libraries we can apply to. ENCORE! Usually tells you how many copies of a vocal set a library owns, but it won’t give you real time availability - for this you need to contact the library direct. Once we’ve found a library who can supply, we send an official request with our British Library account details and request number. In our experience Libraries usually charge 1 British Library loan charge per 20 vocal sets, or 2 loan charges per orchestral set.

Not all music / performing arts libraries do interlending - some operate a hire service and charge per score (and so are usually more expensive.) From my understanding, these libraries usually deal directly with the orchestra or choir who want the music and on occasion we have directed our groups to go direct when we haven’t been able to source their music from elsewhere.

FreeImages.com/Victor Iglesias
No matter how much time you allow, it’s almost inevitable that some parts will be lost forever - in these situations we normally look online to purchase replacement scores (Musicroom.com, efkalmus.com and Boosey.com have all been useful sources,) and return these with the rest of the set (with a grovelling apology obviously.) On occasion, lending libraries may require you to pay an additional binding / processing fee for these copies - as with the cost of the replacement copies we recoup this from our requestor.

And that’s about it! I learned about music interlending by doing it - I’m sure lots of other people do it different ways - but if you haven’t experienced it before I hope you have found these tips useful.


Natalie Guest
FIL committee member

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