Collection Selector

photo of Holly Mockovak

Holly Mockovak

Head, Music Library

Music Library

General Purpose of the Collection

The Music collection supports in-depth scholarly inquiry into Western art music and has significant, and increasing, holdings that support advanced inquiry into non-Western art music, and traditional and popular music of many cultures.

While the collection most actively connects to the University’s music degree programs, both on campus and through online distance courses, it also serves as a University-wide resource for other curricular, research, and production needs in diverse areas including but not limited to African studies, education, performing arts funding, cultural histories, the music industry, perception and creativity, dance and ballet, acoustics and design, and student activities organizations. The collection consists of physical and online manifestations of scores, recordings, books, periodicals, reference works, microforms, and video resources. Most of the physical collection is consolidated in the Music Library on the second floor of Mugar Memorial Library.

A wide array of degrees in music are awarded through three different schools or colleges at the University. Cross-registration of students is not unusual and some faculty hold permanent appointments at more than one school.

The College of Fine Arts, through its School of Music, awards the MusB in Performance, in Theory and Composition, in History and Literature, and in Music Education. These areas of study, with the additional areas of Collaborative Piano, Historical Performance, and Conducting, are offered at the MusM and MusAD levels. A five-year program allows undergraduates to earn both their MusB in Performance and their MusM in Music Education. A program for exceptionally gifted musicians preparing for a professional career leads to the Artist Diploma in Performance. For singers specifically preparing for an operatic career, the School of Music’s Opera Institute provides a professional training program that leads to a certificate. Performers of orchestral instruments continuing professional training beyond the master’s level, but without the research component of the doctoral level, pursue the Performance Diploma in Instrumental Music. An additional eight to ten classes in theory, appreciation, historical survey, and instrumental lessons are offered each semester to non-music majors through the School of Music of the College of Fine Arts.

An online masters and doctoral degree in Music Education, developed in 2005 and experiencing rapid growth, is offered through Boston University’s Distance Education Program in partnership with the School of Music.

The College of Arts and Sciences awards the BA in Music. The Graduate School of the College of Arts and Sciences awards the MA in Musicology, Composition, and Music History/Theory (a double concentration) and the PhD in Musicology, Music History/Theory and Ethnomusicology.

The School of Theology awards the Master of Sacred Music (MSM) and also offers the Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Music (MDiv/MSM), a dual degree program in Theology and Music Ministry.

The Dance Minor is one of the special program areas offered through the University’s Fitness and Recreation Center. It is currently available to students of the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine Arts, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, Questrom School of Business, School of Hospitality Administration, and College of Communication (as a secondary minor); availability through other Colleges is pending.

Students (both music majors and non-majors) and faculty fill the annual calendar with performances of symphonic, operatic, choral, chamber and solo literature. Performance venues include the University’s Tsai Performance Center, Concert Hall, George Sherman Union, Marsh Chapel, and Huntington Theatre. Other typical venues include the Tanglewood Institute and, for the artist faculty, commercially released recordings and concert halls throughout the world. Repertoire ranges in style and period from that of Renaissance Europe and the avant-garde to a capella stylings, Sunday anthems, and jazz arrangements. Faculty lectures, publications, and ongoing research interests are similarly broad and include areas as diverse as German Romanticism, seventeenth-century keyboard music, American music, jazz, blues, Bach, Mozart, hymnology, music and the brain, popular music, music education and contemporary society, African and South East Asian musical studies, and contemporary composition.

Scope of Coverage

Languages collected (primary and selective) or excluded
With few exceptions, vocal music in scores and recordings is collected in its original language (preferably with accompanying English translation). For writings on music, primary sources (e.g., treatises, correspondence) are sought in their original language with English translations obtained as available. Secondary writings on music are collected in English if available; significant original works in original languages are obtained selectively.
Geographical areas covered by the collections in terms of intellectual content, publication sources, or both, and specific areas excluded, as appropriate
Coverage of Western Europe and the United States remains comprehensive; representative coverage of Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Asia, Africa and Latin America, is rapidly increasing as scholarly publications from or about those regions proliferate.
Chronological periods covered by the collection in terms of intellectual content, movements or schools, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
Coverage is from antiquity through the present.
Chronological periods collected in terms of publication dates, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
While emphasis is on the acquisition of new and recent publications, acquisition of selected older publications and variant editions or performances (including reprints and re-releases), through either purchase or gift, does occur.

General Subject Boundaries and Library Locations

The subject scope of this collection is primarily determined by the Library of Congress class M. Within the GV call number range, we acquire selectively in the areas of folk and social dance, and ballet. We also acquire selectively within the TK class (sound recording technology), the Z class (personal bibliography), and within the K class (law, copyright).

All items in the collection are housed in Mugar Memorial Library, with these exceptions: selected items classified in KF 3035 and in TK 7881.6 reside in the reference section of Mugar Memorial Library’s Music Library while the remainder of the titles in those classifications are housed in the collection of the Law and Science and Engineering Libraries, respectively.


  • M : Scores, Recordings
  • ML : History and Literature of Music
  • MT : Theory and Analysis of Music

Collected Selectively:

  • GV 1580-1790 : Dance (folk and social dance, and ballet)
  • KF 3035 : Copyright, Licensing and Fair Use in Music
  • TK 7881.6 : Sound Recording Technology
  • Z 8001-8999 : Personal Bibliography

Related subjects and Interdisciplinary Relationships

African Studies
The African Studies Selector typically collects titles about the music of any region or people of Africa when the title has been published within Africa or has been published in an African language. The Music Selector typically acquires works on both African music and African-influenced music that have been published in the Americas or Europe. The Music and African Studies Selectors confer on acquisitions whenever necessary.
The selector in this area may be consulted with regard to publications relating to the support of ethnomusicology and other works on musical life in society.
The Art History Selector may be consulted with regard to publications in music iconography, special exhibit catalogs, and works concerning the arts in general (class NX).
The Music Selector collects titles devoted to the role of music in film, television and radio production.
The Music Selector routinely acquires titles in theory, methods, and administration of music education for the professional, and may confer with the Education Selector on titles in music for the general education collection. Music, music literature and movement to music for pre-K through grade 12 is collected selectively by the Education Selector. Contemporary instructional methods and other K-12 materials for the music specialist are collected selectively by the Music Selector in consultation with the Librarian of the Music Curriculum Lab, College of Fine Arts.
Health Sciences
The Music Selector collects titles specifically addressing medical problems common to musicians and may confer with the Health Sciences Selector on the subject of Music Therapy and Dance Therapy.
There may be consultation with the Philosophy Selector on works by music aestheticians or on works about the aesthetics of music.
There may be consultation with the Psychology Selector for psychology of the creative and performing artist.
General Works devoted to musical liturgies and the role of music in religion are typically acquired by the Music Selector in consultation with the Religion Selector. In-depth works pertaining to a particular denomination, or geared toward sacred music directors of houses of worship, may be discussed with the Librarian of the School of Theology Library for placement decision.
There may be consultation with the Theatre Selector on dance and movement for the stage, and on music theatre.

Types of Materials

Reference works, including indexes and abstracts, bibliographies, discographies, encyclopedias, research guides, catalogs, and directories; monographs, periodicals, congress reports, festschriften; scores (full, vocal and miniature formats, including variant editions and facsimiles, and chamber ensemble parts up to four), and recordings (audio compact discs).
Online manifestations of content continue to be sought and are occasionally collected cooperatively, either as part of the Boston University library system, or in connection with outside library consortial arrangements (such as NERL or BLC).
Collected Selectively
Dissertations and theses, electronic resources, LP recordings, DVD and VHS videos, parts for larger chamber works, fake books and lead sheets, and microforms of manuscripts, rare publications, catalogs, periodicals and monographs.
Not Collected
Orchestral parts, audio magnetic tape (except when included with print works or of special institutional significance), pre-LP recording formats, slides, and film.

Other On-Campus or Local Resources

The Music Curriculum Library of the School of Music of the College of Fine Arts, houses core concert repertoire including multiple choral and orchestral parts sets and multiple copies of selected titles for classroom use (such as collections of chorales by J. S. Bach), and provides management of performance rental material. The Lab also serves Music Education programs by providing a space for on-site review and preparation of classroom teaching resources, as well as a small collection of pre-K through grade 12 classroom texts and methods. The Music Curriculum Lab is located at 855 Commonwealth Avenue.

The Recording Studio of the School of Music, 855 Commonwealth Avenue, offers an online Audio Archive of nearly 3,500 school performances, some dating back into the 1950s.

Fragile, rare, and manuscript items of all eras in music are selectively acquired by the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, located in Mugar Memorial Library. The Music Library and that Department confer occasionally regarding certain of each others’ special acquisitions of scores or recordings and their subsequent placement within the collections.

The Geddes Language Center of the College of Arts and Sciences, 685 Commonwealth Avenue, houses an audio collection (core classical, core jazz, and American popular) and a video collection (core opera) supporting selected undergraduate and graduate music courses offered through CAS.

Krasker Film/Video Services provides instructional media support to University classes. Faculty can browse the online catalog and reserve any of more than 18,500 film and video titles from the Krasker collection for classroom use. Krasker also has an onsite previewing room at Mugar Memorial Library, basement level, 771 Commonwealth Avenue, equipped to screen all formats in the Krasker collection, including 16mm, VHS, Laser Disc, DVD, and Blu-ray.The staff also provides reference services for the searching and acquisition of titles or topics not owned by the University.

The Pappas Law Library of the School of Law, 765 Commonwealth Avenue, offers extensive legal research resources in business, copyright and entertainment law. The Music Library holds a selection of recent and authoritative works on copyright legislation relating to the music industry for its Open Reserves and which may duplicate Law Library holdings.

The School of Theology Library, 745 Commonwealth Avenue,houses publications related to sacred music, liturgical tradition, and music and society. Its special archival collections include several rich in music resources such as the extensive Hymnological Collections.

An in-depth collection of organ music scores, managed by the Boston Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, is located in the School of Theology building. The Organ Library, which collection is for on-site use only, resides in the E. Power Biggs Room and is accessible by appointment to all researchers regardless of academic or societal affiliation.

The greater Boston area is particularly rich in music collections. The Boston Area Music Libraries (BAML) exist to foster inter-institutional communication on matters ranging from acquisitions strategies and collection holdings to reference and access support for one anothers’ patrons. Similarly, the music and media librarians have come together to form one of the Community of Interest groups in the Boston Library Consortium.