Sibley Library Tour

Narration by Jim Farrington

The present Sibley Music Library opened its doors in 1989. January 1989. The building now referred to as Old Sibley Library, which now houses Eastman’s Ensemble Library, is located a block away, which means that the contents of the old library were moved booktruck by booktruck over the winter break between semesters of the 1988/89 academic year. In December and January. In Rochester, NY. The picture shown here was not taken in January. 

Here are a couple of pictures of our front street entrance. 

Sibley occupies the top three floors of a four story building. To get to the library’s entrance one must either take an elevator or navigate this small winding staircase.

These are pictures of the landing immediately outside our door, at the top of the stairs.

This picture was taken from the third floor looking down at our circulation desk and the entrance/exit doors. The desk across the atrium is the reserves and recordings desk.

This picture is taken from the vantage point of the circulation desk, looking across the Freeman Atrium. Those card catalogs are for the LP collection, not all of which has yet to be converted into our online catalog.

We have a fair amount of shelf space available to show off recently cataloged and bound scores and books. The bottom shelf is usually also full, but when we were taking pictures we had just started to clear out these shelves for a new batch of books and scores.

Here’s a picture of the main reading room adjacent to the reference section. Notice the tables and chairs: they have been in use since the first library space at Eastman opened in 1922, which you will see in the presentation.

Here are the reference M/ML/MT shelves.

This is a view of the second floor stacks looking south. These stacks house most of our circulating score collection.

Two aisles of scores. You’ll note on the right the miniature scores utilizing all of the vertical shelf space available from top to bottom. In the aisle shown on the left you’ll see some top shelves are used, some are not. I’ll discuss that situation in the presentation.

The empty shelves on the left are at the very end of our M-classed scores. This summer we are going to move the end of the Ms to these shelves and start backshifting the collection to open up shelf space where things are getting tight. The aisle on the right are books housed on the third floor.

These shots illustrate a portion of our folio or oversize score collection. These shelves were specially designed for this purpose. 


Sibley has thousands of microforms in our collection. Here we see a typical student trying to figure out how to read a microfiche with his naked eye. If he were to turn around he would see a microform machine connected to the computer that would allow him to not only view the fiche but also to digitize as either picture or PDF.

Our tech services area is also on the second floor is. Here is a picture of the gift processing area.

This picture is taken from the other end of tech services. You’ll see gift scores waiting to be cataloged in the foreground, but also notice the natural light streaming in from the left side, an unusual feature for so many tech service areas in libraries. 

The last thing on the second floor that I’d like to share is this. I don’t know if we’re unique among libraries, but I don’t know of another that has a named staff lounge.

Moving up to the third floor, here is a shot of our unbound periodicals. We subscribe to more than 350 journals, including all or many of those to which we also have electronic subscriptions.

Where I’m reasonably confident that we’re unique among music libraries, Sibley is very proud to have our own conservation lab and staff. Alice Carli, who you may know from her book on music binding, recently released in its second edition, is our conservator. 

We can do everything here from simple pamphlet binding to high end restoration work. We even have our own mold remediation unit.

Also on the third floor is our listening room. We have individual carrels with high end audio and video equipment, as well as…

an area where a wide variety of media—from LPs to cassettes to laser discs to minidiscs—can be digitized and manipulated. Not shown are the scanners, one of which can digitize up to 11x17 inch paper. Our idea is that almost anything that we have in our collections can be digitized and manipulated for various projects and research purposes.

Here's a shot of our recording stacks, beginning with our CDs, followed by LPs, DVDs, laserdiscs, etc. Most of our collection is open shelf, but since the media are just given accession numbers they are closed shelf and not available for browsing. Sibley has somewhere around 100,000 recordings, including the recordings of the Eastman Audio Archive, whose origins date back to 1933.

This is a shot of our ML book and journal stacks on the third floor. 

More oversized shelving.

Here’s a shot from our main staircase, looking down at the reference desk and up at the entrance to Special Collections.

From the vantage of the last picture, had one turned around you would have been face to face with the very nice display case shown from the fourth floor landing.

Finally on the top floor, here is a shot of the corridor going past the graduate student carrels and M2 classed scores. The stack ranges in the distance have the M3-classed collected works and MT-classed material.

This shot is the other side of the building. We have 50 assigned graduate student carrels, and several other open carrels on other floors that are available on a first come, first served basis.

Also on the fourth floor is the Eastman Wind Ensemble room, a large study space that also has a semi-permanent display of Eastman Wind Ensemble artifacts drawn from the Frederick Fennell Collection.

We have two seminar rooms in Sibley, a small room that accommodates 9-10 people, and this larger seminar room that holds 25 or so students. A full complement of audio and video equipment is housed in the cabinets on the far end.

The fourth floor also has a caged area accessible only by key, which holds overflow and inprocess materials from Special Collections, as well as a variety of in-process and duplicate material from the general collection. Essentially it has been our dumping ground for thirtysome years.

Here’s a photo of the vault taken from its front door. Sibley has a fine collection of more than 150,000 cataloged items, including manuscripts scores, first and early editions, autographed letters, and more. We have one of the finest collections of theory treatises and books from the 11th through the 19th century. 

We also have a lot of Stuff in Boxes. These are named archival collections given or loaned to us by individual musicians, former faculty, societies, alumni, and so forth. 

Of course Sibley is also home to the institutional archives of the Eastman School of Music.

Here are some raw statistical numbers on the size of the collection. I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of the Sibley Music Library.