“Wave Goodbye” – Conservatoire Library Stories Part 5

The Birmingham Conservatoire Library closes its doors for the last time on Friday 9th June 2017.

Today we continue with the history of the library

1970s onwards

One of the first discussions that took place when the Birmingham School of Music became part of the then-Birmingham Polytechnic, was the facilities and borrowing arrangements in the new Paradise Circus location. Sue Clegg was the first music Librarian appointed in the new library, and she quickly organised the stock properly for the first time – filling in the gaps where there were omissions, cataloguing the collection so that it could be searched, and forging links with the Birmingham Central Library, Birmingham University Music Library, and the CBSO.

£1000 was given to the library for purchase of TV and video equipment, and the library was also instructed to make provision for the growing interest in the study of electronic music. In 1978 Sue Clegg also appealed for more money to cover growing binding costs, as well purchase of cassettes, and new vocal and orchestral sets.

In 1981, the library finally got a security system to stop stock loss – this included Tattletape and security gates. Recommendations were also made this year to expand the library, as in the years since the move to Paradise Circus, the space had already been outgrown and had been considered insufficient by the CNAA who validated the degree courses. The library was extended in 1983.

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In the Centenary souvenir programme (1986), then Librarian Stella Thebridge wrote:

The library today would amaze not only those students of 50 or 100 years ago, but also those who studied here only 20 years ago. Those who would have been pleased to trace a piece of music in a card catalogue will find computerised catalogues giving details of holdings not only of this library but of 50 others round the country. The student who would have welcomed the opportunity to hear a record in the library can now switch from an opera on video, via a traditional cassette or record to the pure strains of a compact disc. History is constantly around us at the School of Music library. Music does not date, and it is thrilling to open a piece and find a signature flourished by Granville Bantock, a dedication by Liszt or Holst or a performance direction noted by Harold Gray to be passed on to the CBSO

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Our history of the Conservatoire Library continues in two weeks.

Our thanks to John Smith who provided the above information via extracts from the School of Music Committee notes and Fanfare Magazine.

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