Gilmore Music Library: Library Tour

Narration by Ruthann McTyre

Slide 1: Yale University acknowledges that indigenous peoples and nations, including

Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, Niantic, and the Quinnipiac and other Algonquian speaking peoples, have stewarded through generations the lands and waterways of what is now the state of Connecticut.  We honor and respect the enduring relationship that exists between these peoples and nations and this land.

Slide 2: It is my pleasure to walk you through a tour of the Gilmore Music Library at Yale University. Welcome!

Slide 3: Yale University Library’s commitment to music predates 1850 by which time the library had begun acquiring important European publications of scores and periodicals. The bequest of Lowell Mason’s private library in 1873 increased the library’s music holdings by 10,000 volumes. In 1902 a small music collection was created in the Department of Music.

Slide 4: This collection, along with the music holdings from the central library were moved to the new Sprague Hall in 1917. Eva Judd O’Meara was named the first Music Librarian in the same year, retiring in 1952.  Miss O’Meara was also a founding member of the Music Library Association in 1931. 

Slide 5: In 1998, the growing music collection moved from Sprague Hall to its current location within Sterling Memorial Library, pictured on the left of the screen, a custom-built facility constructed in a courtyard.

Slide 6: The new library was named for Irving S. Gilmore (Yale ‘23). The Historical Sound Recordings Collection, founded in 1961, and the Oral History of American Music, founded in 1969, have since joined with the Music Library to strengthen our services.

Slide 7: The Gilmore Music Library s one of the largest music collections in the United States and is comprehensive in providing resources for music performance and scholarship.  The music collection is used by the entire university community but our primary constituents are the Department of Music, the School of Music and the Institute for Sacred Music.

Slide 8: Our Special Collections include rare manuscripts, books, and scores, as well as the papers of notable composers, performers, scholars, and organizations; a wealth of sound recordings from the earliest cylinders to current technology, and a vast library of oral histories taken with notable figures from all areas of American Music.  You are looking at the manuscript of J.S. Bach’s Clavier-Büchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, probably the rarest of the rare in our library.  Miss O’Meara, who brought this volume to Yale, convinced the vendor to establish a payment plan over a few years in order to raise money to purchase it.  She even held bake sales to raise funds.  You will note that the bottom image is the Prelude in C and that Bach did not waste paper by writing out the entire piece, but included the chords instead.  

Slide 9: The Gilmore is home to a wide variety of archival collections of many notable figures, especially in American music.  These include Benny Goodman, Virgil Thomson – and yes, he really did wear that bathrobe all the time – Charles Ives, Robert Shaw, and Vladimir Horowitz.  Pictured here is, of course, Thomson in his bathrobe, a bronze case of Horowitz’s hands and a license plate found in the barn at the Ives home in Reading Connecticut.  

Slide 10: The Historical Sound Recordings Collection is comprised of some 280,000 sound recordings from the birth of recorded sound to the present., including unique private recordings and test-pressings.  The Oral History of American Music, founded by Vivian Perlis, provides access to over 3000 interviews with American musicians.

The Oral History of American Music, founded by Vivian Perlis, provides access to over 3000 interviews with American musicians. 

Slide 11: Our archival collections can be searched through Archives at Yale and a growing number of our Historic Sound and Oral History items are available through open access.  Here, for example, you can see the finding aid to our collection of over 700 Berliner test-pressings which are freely available for listening, as well as to some OHAM materials. 

Slide 12: Now let’s take that walk around the Music Library.  The music library is housed on 3 levels within Sterling Memorial Library.  You can see here a photo of what the space looked like originally and then how it looks, facing the same direction now.  The 1st floor is where one reading room is located, along the services desk, on the other side of the center wall.

Slide 13: Also on the first floor, you will see public access computers, current periodicals, scanning stations and some staff offices.  Here, my colleague Suzanne Lovejoy ponders life as Kurt Weill on Lotte Lenya look on.

Slide 14: The second floor reading houses the reference collection, historical sets and collected editions.  There are 2 seminar rooms on this level, along with a suite of music library staff offices, and secure storage for parts of our special collections. I’ve been told by several colleagues about the day the buttresses were flown in as they watched from their office windows that look out onto the music library from the floors above.

Slide 15: Most of the general collection is found in the basement, with one room for books and another for scores.

Slide 16: This concludes our walking tour of the Gilmore Music Library. Come back “for real” someday.

Handsome Dan (Seen here, hanging out in Sterling Library) and I will be glad to see you.