Music Library creates community for music students
Used by students and professors, the library is for more than checking out music scores
From the Newsstands: This story appeared in The Eagle's April 2023 print edition. You can find the digital version here.
Easy to miss, but vital to the success of the music program at American University, the Music Library is tucked behind the main staircase in Katzen. Unknown to most students at AU, according to faculty and student library workers, the Music Library brings music to the AU community in preparation for auditions and personal use.
Mary Gottlieb, a staff collaborative pianist at AU, goes to the Music Library daily as she helps students with lessons and auditions.
“[The librarians] are willing to jump in and help with the computer, and help find things. Because I’m usually in the middle of rehearsals with kids when we suddenly want something, they’re willing to help find it fast or bring it to me,” Gottlieb said.
According to the library’s website, the collection features music collections ranging from audio and video databases, over 12,000 scores and music sheets, over 10,000 CD collections and film collections and DVDs. A unique aspect of how the Music Library displays its collection is how musicians of color are highlighted. This effort is made possible by the Collection Amplifying Diverse Voices and supports students as they seek out musically diverse scores. CADIVO has its own section that is immediately visible upon walking into the Music Library.
“I feel like music from minorities are kind of just like buried, and it's kind of hard to find, if you go through our library, most of it's probably going to be dead white men,” Tiana Taylor, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences who works at the Music Library, said. “So at least we're just putting it all in one place.”
Last semester, Calla LaBeau, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, used the library to find a score by Emma Lou Diemer. LaBeau then performed the piece in an AU Chamber Singers’ concert.
“We knew that we needed pieces by specific, specific artists and so we looked in the library and we were able to find that piece and then learn it and perform it for the concert,” LaBeau said.
Outside of AU-affiliated music groups and classes, non-music students can come to the library with friends and check out its features as well. Those wanting to learn how to play the guitar or piano, for a band or just for fun, can check out the music without having to pay, according to Taylor. The Music Library even has a ukulele that can be used by anyone wanting to learn.
Besides resources, the Music Library also provides a space for music students to congregate. Attached to the library’s main section, there’s a computer lab that doubles as a place for music students to come together.
“It’s just a nice place to study or a chill space to exist,” LaBeau said. “And I like spending time in there to just decompress in between classes.”
Additionally, the Music Library hosts performances called “Soundbites” to highlight work being done by student groups or in classes. Musicians, such as the student cast of “Cabaret,” fill the Katzen Rotunda with music on select Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in between classes.
The Music Library gives space for students and faculty to explore what music AU has to offer. Giving patrons diverse and recent music, the Music Library has helped to cultivate an inclusive environment fit for anyone interested in learning more about music.
“People are in and out of [the Music Library] all the time,” Gottlieb said. “It’s a friendly place. They have music playing. It’s nice to have just a little bit of a music spot.”