Music Library and Research Skills

By Dougan, Kirstin | Fontes Artis Musicae, October-December 2009 | Go to article overview

Music Library and Research Skills


Dougan, Kirstin, Fontes Artis Musicae


Music Library and Research Skills. By Jane Gottlieb. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. [xiii, 370 p. ISBN 0-13-158434-0; 978-0-13-158434-1. $57]

Another new example of a guide to music research, Jane Gottlieb's Music Library and Research Skills is a wealth of information that incorporates her vast experience in the matter of conducting and teaching music research. This book is intended for the graduate music bibliography classroom and includes both discussions of types of tools as well as lists of sources. The author lays out several "rules for successful music library users," including "Rule No. 1: Pester the Librarian," and "Rule No. 3: Under stand the Difference between Answering Factual Questions and Exploring Those Questions Requiring More In-Depth Original Research" (p.2ff) While the rules serve as helpful reminders to the reader on how to get the most the library has to offer, they might be a bit off-putting to graduate-level students.

There will be a companion website which will be maintained by the author and updated quarterly (p.xiii). Unfortunately, the address is not included in the book, and, at the time of this review (September 2009), the reviewer could not locate the site via the publisher's website or with a Google search.

The book is arranged in twelve chapters, and "each chapter is designed to be self-contained, so an instructor may utilize its resources as best fits into his/her own approach" (p.xii). While the author states that the book progresses according to recommended research process, there is no actual discussion of what the research process is and what steps are involved. Presumably this would be discussed in the classroom setting, since graduate students are often approaching true research for the first time. Chapters are organized by major type of tool: bibliographies, dictionaries/ encyclopedias, sources about composers and performers, histories, periodicals and indexes, discographies, editions, thematic catalogs, text translations, and resources for careers in music. Additionally, there are two glossaries--over 150 German music terms and over two dozen bibliographic terms.

The first chapter, "Libraries and the Universe of Information on Music," contains the aforementioned library rules, as well as several other topics that address the larger context for the sources discussed in the rest of the book. The description of library catalogs includes searching tips as well as a clear explanation of authority files and uniform titles and why they matter. The chapter also contains information about classification schemes, online sources, and rules for using the internet for research, in addition to a brief introduction to style manuals and writing guides. Finally, the chapter includes descriptions of types of libraries and collections, and a helpful listing of several individual major libraries and collections, with citations for further readings about each. This level of detail is appropriate for a graduate-level class.

Gottlieb is clearly someone who knows the tools of the trade, as evidenced in the informative narrative sections in each chapter describing the category of resource. There is often a bit of history of the development of the resources or even of specific titles that is useful for the librarian as well as the student. Gottlieb shares knowledge that can only be gained from using the tools extensively. For example, there is an extensive discussion of Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and its history and development (p.68ff).

One strength of this book emerges in its range: where appropriate, the sources listed and examples are drawn not only from Western art music, but from jazz, popular, and world music as well. For example, in the chapter on composers and performers, Gottlieb includes Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, and Elvis Presley as well as others beyond the scope of Western art music. Another useful feature of the book are its real-life examples and discussion boxes ("Who was Francois-Joseph Fetis? …

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