Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Music Literature

Author: Laura Thompson Last updated 07-27-2023

Purpose or Scope of Collection

A. Curricular, research, programmatic needs

The music literature collection consists of monographs and journals in the ML and MT classifications. Unless otherwise specified, the terms “music literature” or “literature” will refer to traditional books and journals.

The music literature collection contains music appropriate to study, instruction and research in a broad range of fields within music. Undergraduate degrees (B.M.) are offered in composition and theory, music education, music performance, jazz studies, and combinations thereof; a B.A. degree is granted to liberal arts majors with a strong emphasis in music. Masters’ degrees (M.M. or M.A.) are offered in music performance, music education, music theory, composition, musicology, piano pedagogy, jazz studies, and conducting. The D.M.A. is granted for musical performance, conducting, composition, and collaborative piano and a PhD is granted for music education.

The collection must provide resources sufficient to meet the majority of music faculty and student needs. Thus, a broad range of materials at varying levels must be provided. In keeping with the College of Music curriculum, most library resources focus on Western art music traditions, jazz, and world music.

To meet the needs of the College of Music is the first priority. The collection contains books and journals on music history, biographies of musicians (composers and performers), specialized topics, information on the history and construction of specific instruments, and information on various forms and styles of music. Music education, music therapy, critical analysis, and technical studies and methods are also included. The majority of the focus is on Western art music and jazz, but includes popular music generally, as well as world music and cultures. Contemporary American popular music is covered generally and primarily for IAH and other non-major classes. Journals in all music subject areas are collected.

Users outside the College of Music include area professionals, faculty and students from other MSU colleges and departments, faculty and students from other institutions, and the people of the State of Michigan. We also lend material through ILL to any participating institution, assuming the condition of the item permits, with discretionary lending of complete works/monuments.

B. History of the collection/existing strengths and emphases

The College of Music became an official department of Michigan State in 1926. Library resources were slim. For many years, monographs and journals were housed separately from the score and recording collections; only in 1995-96 were all elements of the music collections brought together. Despite serious under-funding in the early years, a substantial collection has been built. Better funding since the mid-1980s and the use of approval plans has yielded more titles and more current coverage for monographs.

Journals have been added, ceased and cancelled over the history of the collection. Currently, modest numbers of journals are added, especially at faculty request. Print subscriptions also often have online counterparts or are available only electronically. Depending on coverage and the quality of reproduction in the digital image, journals may be collected in digital or print form.

Strengths of the collection lie particularly in the opera libretti, biographies, musicology of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods, works about solo vocal music, musical instruments, philosophy and physics, and most areas of music education. The collection is also strong in technical material for instruments, and in music theory. English, French and German are the major languages, with Italian, Latin, and various Slavic languages quite well represented.

Weaknesses have generally been more in depth than breadth of coverage. Some areas, such as paleography and iconography, have had spotty coverage and cannot now be brought up to a high level; however, these courses are not taught often and so general collection levels, rather than a heavy concentration on new sources, will be sufficient. The music theory collection continues to require additional historical sources in original languages (with translation if possible) and also needs to reflect the latest critical thinking. Facsimiles (whether scores or monographs) are required for advanced graduate and faculty study.

Our collections include almost no periodicals from before 1800; although these have become more available online, resource sharing with other libraries is especially important and far less expensive for older titles.