Throughout the ASW we had “Reports and information” sessions. These were a great opportunity to see a snapshot of life in music libraries around the country. They ranged from more academic discussions to some really fun projects reaching out to the wider community. There were prizes; there were, if not tears, some very glum faces – all music library life was there.
The first session was a rather sad one; everyone was looking forward to the visit to the new Birmingham Library on the Saturday morning. There was a brief report on the downside to the new library, an enormous number of staff about to be made redundant, and shortened opening hours. There will also be little in the way of collection development, and it is likely that access to Special Collections will be restricted. If you need to send a reader to Birmingham, remember to check their website for the latest updates. It was so sad especially when we saw the library the following day. Such a vibrant space, and such cheery, friendly, helpful staff despite the circumstances.
Ros Edwards from Manchester was able to report on the more positive side of music librarian life when she reported on the Public Librarians Seminar that had taken place just before the ASW. The theme was “Music Library Events and Promotions”. There were reports on what had been going on in music libraries over the last year, followed by a group discussion. This worked very well with certain themes proving to be common to all public music libraries – the importance of looking beyond your own library, being aware of what’s happening in the wider community, thinking about what might (or might not!) work in your library – for example, is yours the sort of library that would like to have buskers, or how about a music and health session?
The PLS also included a presentation by Mark Ryan of Stella Libraries promoting the City Reads initiative – I recently read Rivers of London, and am a big fan, so think this is very exciting. This was followed by Martin Collins (@collins_martin), who is the artistic director of Library Operas. This is an intriguing initiative in which operas are condensed, and are then performed in public libraries. Eugene Onegin is due to be performed in West Greenwich Library, Uxbridge, Hounslow and the Barbican libraries later this year.
For a taster of how it might work, here’s Symphony Silicon Valley’s own take on opera in public libraries