Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Music Scores and Recordings

Collection Management Issues

The scores collection will continue to suffer from the previous bad environment of the Music Building, where the collection was housed for decades. Fluctuations in heat and humidity were the chief culprits, and were extremely detrimental to the paper materials. Also, many of the older materials, and particularly those from Eastern Europe, were on highly acidic paper. Replacement and/or conservation of these materials will continue into the foreseeable future; the rate of damage to both old and newer materials is significantly lessened by the current environmental controls.

Retrospective binding of older materials will continue as needed and has provided a substantial improvement in the general condition of the collection. Binding procedures implemented for all new scores/parts are saving time, money, and materials.

The collection has been heavily used. Improved binding and circulation procedures have helped reduce losses of newer material, but replacement of worn or missing scores and parts is a constant concern for both old and new items.

As a result of these factors, withdrawal of unusable items is important, whether due to condition or missing material. Items are replaced with the same edition if possible; if not, a variant edition may be selected. In some cases, other titles will have to be substituted within the genre or style. Donated material is often used to replace worn copies. Whole-scale replacement of some older editions of complete works and monuments may need to be considered in the future (format changes may become necessary).

Physical recordings have fared better than scores, although the tape used to reinforce the edges of jackets is a source of concern; that process has been improved. Donated recordings are often used to replace worn, scratched or incomplete records. The emphasis remains on collecting CDs, in addition to the various streaming packages, such as those provided by Naxos and Alexander Street Press. Digitizing some recordings may become a possibility in the future. Meanwhile, the records and CDs are still used, including through ILL, and replacement copies are purchased as needed and available.

As born-digital scores, audio, and commercial streaming services proliferate, a current issue is managing the collecting of digital audio and scores, especially as it concerns composers and performers from underrepresented communities who often lack access to more traditional means of publishing. In addition to managing digital materials from a technical perspective, cost and copyright restrictions complicate the library’s ability to make digital-only scores and recordings available to library users outside of those subscription based databases. Thus, there is still a need to purchase physical scores and recordings, but increasingly, digital-only scores and recordings will need to be collected.

De-selection for any reason other than condition is not an option in the music collection. All of the material has value as a record of performance practice, editorial practice, potential performance repertoire, and research.