The Music Library Association (MLA) held its annual meeting last month. Four hundred music librarians convened in the urban center of Silicon Valley, San José, California. Educational sessions included real if not exactly glamorous topics: the new cataloging standard (RDA, “Resource Description and Access”); music archives; and music preservation. Matters tending more toward the philosophical were discussed, too, including existential threats to libraries and evolving librarian responses and actions.
Because the number of public libraries with distinct music departments has diminished in recent years, public music librarians at the MLA conference were significantly outnumbered by college and university music librarians. (Pittsburgh is fortunate. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh maintains a robust music collection and dedicated staff.)
MLA’s Public Libraries Committee, chaired by CLP’s own David King, is a small yet undaunted group that provides opportunities to share common work experience.
Each year the Committee organizes a tour of the host city’s public library. This year we visited Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, a collaboration between the City of San José and San José State University, the first joint use library in the United States shared by a major university and a city as its main library. The project was first announced in 1997, with the grand opening celebrated in 2003.
The King Library’s ground floor atrium acts as a bridge between twin entrances. One set of doors opens from a busy city street corner, the other from the SJSU campus. The lower three floors house public library materials.
Floors six and eight are quiet study areas. Floor seven is—shhh!—for silent work.
All San José residents have access to the academic collection of materials from the SJSU Library. Academic databases, including business databases, streaming video and music, are available to everyone using the King Library.
All King Library patrons also have access to special research collections, including The Steinbeck Center
and The Beethoven Center (a favorite of our MLA group).
It’s fun to daydream: what if CLP and University of Pittsburgh’s Hillman Library combined, making both collections accessible to students and non-students alike? Hillman-Carnegie Library has a nice ring to it!