‘It’s (Not) Only Rock ‘n’ Roll’ at Barbican Music Library

This exhibition showcases the music photography of Mark Allan, who has spent over 30 years in the music and entertainment photography business. David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones, and Jay-Z are just some of the leading performers and groups which feature among the 72 images on display.

© Michael Southwell

Other highlights in the free exhibition include Freddie Mercury on stage at Live Aid, and U2, who were photographed backstage at the Manchester Etihad Stadium for the Radio Times ‘Live 8’ cover. The images, in both black-and-white and colour, span the full breadth of Mark’s career and include examples of his early work, such as George Michael’s first solo show in Tokyo in 1988, as well as more recent photos of artists such as Stormzy and Childish Gambino.

Copyright Mark Allan
Copyright Mark Allan

Mark has worked with a range of broadcasters including ITV, Channel 4 and MTV, as well as for magazines such as Mixmag, Q, and Select. For much of the last decade he has documented performances for the BBC, many of them at Maida Vale Studios, for shows such as Zane Lowe, Annie Mac, and Live Lounge. As well as taking location and studio portraits and photographing live performances, he has also covered major events such as the Royal Wedding and the London Olympics. He is a regular photographer at the Barbican Centre, and a section of the exhibition features his images of renowned conductors – including Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, and Sir Simon Rattle – which were taken during live concerts.

Copyright Mark Allan

The display cabinets and plinths contain a selection of the concert tickets and backstage passes which Mark has accumulated over the years, as well as a few of the Nikon cameras that he used before the advent of digital photography.                                                          

Copyright Michael Southwell

Mark Allan said: “There’s as much drama and excitement in a classical music performance at the Barbican as there is at a rock concert at Wembley, and I hope that this exhibition will convey some sense of that, and how it feels to be there. Since the 1980s, I’ve been hugely privileged to work with some legendary performers, many of them featured in this show at Barbican Music Library, so I hope that visitors will enjoy the selection of images that I’ve chosen.”

A private view was held in April which was attended by a number of prominent rock photographers and various representatives from the music industry.


‘It’s (Not) Only Rock ‘n’ Roll’ – the music photography of Mark Allan, which runs until June 29th, was curated by Mark Allan and Michael Southwell (Principal Library Assistant, Barbican Music Library).

Richard L. Jones

(Music Librarian, Barbican Music Library)


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Excellence Abounds

IAML (UK & Irl) celebrated both institutional and individual excellence at the Excellence Awards ceremony held at College Court, Leicester on Sunday 14th April 2019.

The Excellence Awards are presented every three years and acknowledge activity in music libraries which demonstrates sustained good work and good practice with the potential to be adopted and adapted by others. Music collections from any sector in the UK and Ireland can be nominated for the Award, no matter what their sector, size or type.

The range of music libraries in the UK and Ireland is diverse. No two are alike, each reflecting, supporting and engaging its own user community with a range of collections and services which underpin the vibrant diverse musical life and heritage in the UK and Ireland. This variety was reflected in the range of libraries receiving the Excellence Award in 2019.

New for the 2019 Awards – institutions which were judged to have achieved the highest standard of Excellence in all compulsory criteria were eligible for an Excellence Award “with distinction”. Congratulations to the Gerald Coke Handel Collection and the Royal Northern College of Music Library which both received the Excellence Award for Music Libraries – With Distinction.

Katharine Hogg of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection
Staff of the Royal Northern College of Music

The Awards also recognise outstanding personal achievement by individuals with two Personal Achievement Awards being given in 2019 – so, again, congratulations to Claire Marsh (Leeds College of Music) and Jude Paton (Nottingham Performing Arts Library Service) on receiving this Award.

Claire Marsh of Leeds College of Music
Jude Paton of Nottingham Performing Arts Library Service

The nominations for the 2019 Awards were judged by a panel of experts from both the music and library worlds, chaired by Dr Charles Inskip, Senior lecturer, Programme Director, MA Library and Information Studies, Department of Information Studies, University College London.

The full list of the 2019 Excellence Award winners is listed here – 11 institutional libraries and 2 individuals:

Excellence Award for Music Libraries – With Distinction

  • Gerald Coke Handel Collection
  • Royal Northern College of Music Library

Excellence Award for Music Libraries

  • Cardiff University Music Library
  • City of London: Barbican Music Library
  • Community & Youth Music Library (CYML)
  • Henry Watson Music Library, Manchester
  • Jerwood Library (Trinity Laban)
  • Nottingham Performing Arts Library Service (NPALS)
  • OUP Music Hire Library
  • Royal College of Music Library
  • Trinity College Dublin Music Library

Personal Achievement Award

  • Claire Marsh (Leeds College of Music)
  • Jude Paton (Nottingham Performing Arts Library Service)

Citations for the Awards can be seen here.

IAML Award winners

Frances Allott, Convenor, 2019 Excellence Awards

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Bursary report

In the latest of a series of blogs about the recent ASW. An insight into a maiden ASW from Masters student, Kirsty Morgan…

Having received the Music Library Trust bursary, I was very lucky and pleased to be able to attend IAML’s Annual Study Weekend in Leicester this year – and what an amazing and enlightening experience it was. As a music graduate, studying an Information and Library Studies Masters at the University of Strathclyde while also really enjoying working supply in public libraries, I am keen to work towards a career in music librarianship. This study weekend was, therefore, a fantastic opportunity to discover more about music librarianship, learn about some of the current issues surrounding music libraries, and meet and chat with very friendly and knowledgeable people who already work in the field.

This was my first conference so I found the buddy system, where first-time study weekend attendees are paired with someone who is more familiar with the conferences, to be a really helpful entry point. I was immediately put at ease and welcomed into the very inclusive atmosphere, and it was exciting to be surrounded by such an intense wealth of musical expertise and passion. I was a little intimidated, but mostly inspired by the high level of musical knowledge that everyone I talked to at the conference had; I am now a lot more familiar with the broad range of music provision and encoding software, Indian singing practices and necessary considerations for providing musical scores to suit performers’ requirements. The group-wide discussion on the challenges and decisions around printed music vs. digital tablets was fascinating, raising issues that I hadn’t considered before around licencing, performer preference and accessibility for disabled performers. The musical conversations were pervasive throughout the three days, even outwith the presentations and workshops, which I absolutely loved. In fact, it was the first evening at dinner, when one of the people at my table described the weather as “like the second act of Into The Woods”, that I felt like I was definitely in the right place!

I was interested when library concepts that I’d studied on my Masters course came up. The recurrence of copyright concerns throughout the study weekend really highlighted to me how particularly central copyright is within music libraries – and I was grateful that my Masters course had provided me with an up-to-date grounding in copyright law. I liked the framing of music publishers and music librarians as on the same side, working to provide a fair outcome for both composers and performers, and I think it will help me in my future library roles to be better able to visualise copyright conversations in this light.

Talking with other librarians also showed me that there’s a library vocabulary that I hadn’t realised my course had given me – describing a website as using faceted classification, for example, or being able to recognise Linked Data. My Masters dissertation, which I’m currently working on, examines using Linked Data to make smaller archives more visible online, so I found the British Library’s Digital Delius talk and the talk from the Vaughan Williams library about making folk music more accessible online to be particularly relevant. While I was already aware that these kinds of projects require a high level of financial and resource investment, both of these talks really drove home for me the vast extent of such an enterprise. I think this will really help any suggestions my dissertation makes for archives with fewer resources to be realistic. In addition, having made contact with the speakers of these talks, and learned about their projects, I feel it would be useful for me to contact them during my research to request interviews, in order to broaden the perspectives I can discuss and make my dissertation the best it can be!

Cecil Sharp House. Home of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.

It was exciting to discover the wide variety of roles that music library professionals could hold. Alongside academic subject librarians, conservatoire librarians, and music librarians from public libraries were music publishers, performance librarians and music archivists. I was very interested to hear about the Cecilia database, which aims to provide information about every musical collection in the UK. Although I can see many possible uses for such a database, for my current situation as a graduate looking to enter the music librarianship field, this resource will be invaluable for guiding me towards institutions that I can follow for job openings. I’d actually tried to find a resource like this when job searching in the past but despite Googling various search queries along the lines of “list of music libraries UK” and similar, I never found the Cecilia database – and, without attending the conference, I’d have probably never found it. If IAML decides to continue to support such a database, I think it might be worth examining how the database could be more widely publicised outside the IAML community and optimised for search engines.


A talk on the final day discussed the challenges of recruiting Library Studies graduates into music libraries, and the considerations raised were really informative. Music libraries need librarians who are knowledgeable about music, but they also require them to understand library systems. Although there are American music library courses, Aberystwyth is the only British university that provides specific music library training – in a single module. While I agree with the speaker that it wouldn’t be especially feasible to devote an entire postgraduate course to music librarianship due to the small number of students who would be interested, able and willing to narrow their scope so early in their career path, I will say that it was really nice to meet a few other students from different library courses across the UK who are also interested in music librarianship and I enjoyed finding out about the differences between the modules that the other library courses offer.

The weekend provided an insight into the world of music librarianship and really cemented for me that this was a profession and community that I want to be part of. All that remains, I think, is to thank IAML, the Music Library Trust, and my sponsors Stainer & Bell for providing me with this fantastic opportunity; and thank you to everyone who attended this year’s conference for being really friendly and making me feel welcome.

Kirsty Morgan (University of Strathclyde)

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IAML ASW Dining Hall Table decoration
Table decorations in the Dining Hall, College Court

On a sunny Friday afternoon, Kate and I set off from Cambridge for College Court, Leicester for the IAML Annual Study Weekend.  It was a great chance to meet other colleagues working in music libraries and to put some faces to names.  After settling in to our rooms in College Court – a purpose built conference centre for the University of Leicester – we headed to the meeting rooms to hear firstly about orchestral & hire libraries and then about a BL Discovering Music exhibition.
Interesting to learn that the hire of a work/parts does not convey rights of performance with choreography, costumes etc.  This is aimed at preventing hirers from performing extracts (staged) without getting a licence from the Performing Rights Society.  A fascinating talk by Georgina Govier, Head of Music Library, Welsh National Opera, described what her job entails, including coming to the rescue with lost parts for last-minute panicking conductors and negotiating performance rights and licence fees.

IAML ASW Cecilia Anniversary cake
Cecilia 20th anniversary cake!

Saturday morning started bright and early with news and updates before a talk from local musician and teacher Viram Jasami of the Asian Music Circuit gave us an insight into the relevance of South Asian Music in the 21st century.

A look at Cecilia and other IAML databases followed, with attendees being encouraged to promote these to their students, before a coffee break with cake to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Cecilia database.  Cake featured quite highly throughout the weekend, it has to be said!

Lauren Smyth of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library discussed the project to make folk songs findable, using digitisation projects and tools to aid discovery.  Their “Take 6” pilot project of digitising six of their own items and then taking them on outreach projects was a successful idea, which led to them being able to bid for more funds for “The Full English” project.

A useful session by Peter Linnitt of the Royal College of Music Library investigated digital sheet music options of libraries, which looked at what is commercially available, what is (or is not) affordable and what sort of licencing arrangements are being looked at for libraries and institutions.  Ultimately, our library users want the widest range of decent scores available digitally and not have to rely solely on IMSLP which has out of copyright (and therefore older) scores.

An afternoon session offered a practical insight into South Asian Music with Viram Jasami, with lots of participation and was very much enjoyed by the attendees.  Taking “God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen” as a tune that everyone would know, he then split it up into sections to sing as a Raag with drone accompaniment – the braver souls attempted to then sing it!

Saturday evening we attended a reception hosted by Cramer Music followed by the conference dinner which was delicious.  Lots of networking in the bar followed late into the evening…

IAML ASW E T Bryant Kate Crane
Kate Crane, E. T. Bryant Joint Prizewinner 2019

Sunday morning saw us back in the meeting rooms after a hearty breakfast for more news and updates.  Charles Inskip, Department of Information Studies, University College London was the next speaker, talking about the challenges of attracting new graduate trainees into Music Librarianship.  He encouraged the audience to offer their services to local institutions teaching librarianship, by giving talks, career sessions to encourage students.

Finally, the AGM where the Oldman and E. T. Bryant prizes were presented and excellence awards for library institutions and individuals.  Congratulations to Kate on her award!

Finally – the last word goes to the Easter
“Pick-n-Mix” – thanks College Court!

Easter pick-n-mix at the IAML ASW 2019

Helen Snelling & Kate Crane – Pendlebury Library of Music/University Library Music Department, Cambridge.

Previously published on the MusiCB3 blog of Cambridge University Library Music Collections.

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The ASW in a nutshell

I was so sorry not to get to the ASW this year. Luckily we had a team of excellent Twitterati who kept us fully informed of events. If you would like to know more search for #IAMLASW or browse @IAML_UK_IRL on Twitter. Tom Kearns from Kilburn Library has sent in a snapshot of the ASW. More to come shortly…

The venue this year was well-chosen and comfortable; instructions previously circulated about getting there worked like a charm. Weather was sunny and crisp, ideal for some serious thinking. Evening dinner was my first chance to see who was here. As always, attending ASW gives one a good chance to meet up with established [ not “old”] friends and meet some people who were attending for the first time. This year there appeared to be a good proportion of first attenders, all of whom at my table were anxious to contribute to discussion and make all feel at home. This year I offered to buddy one of these first attenders and hopefully the person got something from my ramblings and storytelling.

Dining with IAML

I attended the two talks following dinner, both of which were stimulating. This was followed by some drinks and chat in the spacious bar, which gave me a marvellous opportunity to catch up with friends and hear about the world behind the scenes, anticipating some of the announcements which were to come at a later stage in ASW.

Cake with Cecilia

Saturday morning kicked off with buffet breakfast and from 9 am it was down to business. Proceedings were firmly but kindly directed by members of the Conference Committee taking their turns to chair proceedings. In the reports and information session to open the morning, we had updates from among others the work of the Music Libraries Trust. Following that we had presentations about Asian Music, a talk and birthday cake to mark the 20th birthday of Cecilia, a presentation about the work of the English Folk Song Society and a very absorbing talk on current developments in the realm of digital sheet music. I found myself agreeing with a forceful contribution from floor after this last talk about the continuing importance of hard copy printed scores.

The final AGM was efficiently chaired by our outgoing President, Anna Wright, with the presentation of the Oldman and ET Bryant prizes. Meeting ended with hand-over to incoming President Katharine Hogg.


Outgoing President, Anna Wright
New President, Katharine Hogg

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Exam season at Kilburn

Twelve students of the Lucica Trita London Violin Academy came to the Kilburn Library Centre (part of Camden Libraries), to perform their Grade Examination pieces for Library users on Saturday March 9th. As well as solo performances, the concert concluded with a group performance of teacher and students. Proud parents were also in attendance and staff at the end wished students all the best in their actual exams and said we hoped to see them again soon.

Tuning up.

Afterwards library users asked staff when we were to have more music in the library!

Tom Kearns, Kilburn Library

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From Berlioz with love

The 8th March is the 150th anniversary of the death of the famous French composer Hector Berlioz. In this letter, in the Gerald Coke Handel Collection at the Foundling Museum, Berlioz sends apologies to the flautist Jules-Antoine Demeur (husband of one of Berlioz’ favourite actresses), as he was instead going to Exeter Hall ‘to hear their famous Messiah’.

Courtesy of Gerald Coke Handel Collection, Foundling Museum

Katharine Hogg, Librarian, Gerald Coke Handel Collection

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