2018 IAML Annual Study Weekend report - Kate Price

The Trust awards bursaries to the IAML (UK & Irl.) Annual Study Weekend each year. Below is a report on the experience of attending an ASW from one of the 2018 bursary recipients, Kate Price.

In April I had the great pleasure of attending the IAML (UK & Irl.) Study Weekend, thanks to the Music Libraries Trust bursary. The weekend took place in the University of Edinburgh Pollock Halls Campus, a beautiful old venue on the edge of Holyrood Park with fantastic views of Arthurs Seat.

I travelled to Edinburgh on the Friday, arriving just in time for the first talk: ‘Copyright in the Digital Environment’! Despite being quite technical, sessions on copyright are always immensely helpful and I learn something new every time.  It was particularly interesting to learn about the possibilities of making ‘replacement copies of works’ (Section 42 of the Copyright Act), leading me to think about how the right to preserve items connects to my work with orchestral sets. I also learnt more about copyright laws relating to research and personal study and the use of extracts for education, all of which is especially useful in advising students.

As an orchestral librarian integrated into an academic library I had also hoped to gain some knowledge of the library work that I haven’t been formally trained in. I found the ‘Practical approaches to small-scale Digitisation Projects’ particularly interesting and my colleague and I began discussing the possible digitisation of our Goossens collection, with a focus on preserving the handwritten orchestral sets. We hope to look at this further during the Summer when the college is quiet! A look at ‘The Hybrid Music Library’ and a panel session on ‘Music in Special Collections’ also helped to give me an overview of the work that my GSMD library colleagues do, helping me to feel more integrated with the rest of the team here.

For me, the most interesting thing about the sessions was the feeling that libraries are evolving with the digital era and that the people involved in IAML are leading the way in meeting these new challenges within the music library. With sessions looking at how digitisation projects can be linked to outreach, coupled with a session about bringing music performance and audiences into the music library, there is a real sense of moving forward and developing the music library into something more holistic. There was even a session on how we might catalogue the emotional metadata of a work which would allow library users to search for music to suit their mood (it strikes me that Spotify already does this!).

Having worked in libraries since 2013 it was wonderful to meet so many of the colleagues who, until now, I have only known by email. It was also a pleasure to meet librarians in such a wide range of roles: academic, public, private and hire libraries were all represented. Meeting all of these dedicated music librarians in person brought home how supportive this community is and how passionate everyone is about making music and knowledge available.

During the ‘Quick Fire Round’ I chose to listen to a talk on becoming involved in IAML. One of the many reasons I wanted to attend the study weekend was my involvement with the IAML UK & Irl. Copyright Committee, which I was invited to join at the start of the year.  I’m pleased to say that following the study weekend I’ve also taken on the role of BRIO subscriptions manager from Monika Pietras, who is very kindly supporting me as I learn the ropes. Thanks Monika!

The atmosphere throughout the weekend was very relaxed and there were many opportunities to talk to the other attendees to compare practice and, of course, swap library stories and gripes. It was particularly useful to sit down for dinner with the librarians at fellow conservatoires who allowed me to pick their brains about setting up a hire service for vocal sets (again, I’ll be looking at this in detail once our students have gone home!). It was also lovely to get to know some of my colleagues on a more personal level. There is a feeling at IAML of lifelong commitment to the subject and people involved and it felt like a significant step in my career to start forming these working relationships.

On the Saturday afternoon we were given a fascinating guided tour of St Cecilia’s Hall Musical Instrument Museum. The museum is a wonderful resource for those interested in the history of instruments and the staff have an incredible wealth of knowledge. While I learnt a lot about the keyboard collection the most memorable instrument for me was a kind of saxophone clarinet hybrid made from a metal which has degraded and begun to emit poisonous gas!

I stayed in Edinburgh for a few days after the conference which was a great opportunity to learn about the history of the city, to take a tour of the South Bridge Vaults and to visit the Edinburgh Library. It was fascinating to see such an unfamiliar classification system in use (I’m told they use Library of Congress) and to have a look at the community engagement present in their music library.

It also has to be said that the food provided throughout the weekend was fabulous and to be played into dinner by bagpipes on the Saturday evening was a very memorable experience! I hope to see everyone at the next Study Weekend!

Kate Price
Orchestral Librarian