“Wave Goodbye” – Conservatoire Library Stories Part 6

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

Today we finish our look at the history of the library.

1990s – Present Day

In 1993, the former Birmingham Polytechnic, renamed University of Central England in Birmingham (UCE) acquired Birmingham Central Library’s Exhibition Hall, which the music library moved into. It gave the library a third more space. Writing in Fanfare II, librarian Robert Allan said:

The overall shape of the space allows almost the whole layout to be visible on entry into the library, with study areas dividing up the separate shelving for scores and parts, journals, books and recordings. It has been possible to provide almost double the amount of seating in the old library, and to bring together for the first time items previously split between the library and the two library stacks.

There is now also more space to set aside the ever-increasing number of orchestral/band parts and vocal scores for use in forthcoming Conservatoire performances.

A new feature of this Information Services’ Library is that two rooms at one end of the space have been created to allow separate listening and computing facilities. Going by previous experience, I anticipate that these will be heavily used as information technology becomes ever more established generally

A new library catalogue was also installed in 1993, allowing library users to more easily search for music, and for the first time allowed unusual combinations of instruments to be searched for.

In 2000, the library opened on a Sunday for the first time.

In 2005, the library secured £14,000 to restore a collection of printed music from the 18th and 19th Centuries. In the same year, £600,000 was awarded to refurbish the library, which had not seen many changes since 1994. As part of this refurbishment, the following features were installed:

  • Seminar room
  • Mezzanine level – quiet seating area
  • Staff office
  • New furniture, equipment and computers
  • Upgraded AV room
  • Rolling shelving to accommodate more stock

The new library was officially opened by Jeffrey Skidmore in 2007, as remembered by Robert Allan.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our history of the library, and whilst it will be sad to move from its current home, a whole new world of possibilities opens up with its merger into the almost-new Curzon Library, and a brand new, world class facility for the faculty itself.

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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