A Guide to Library Research in Music

By Goldsmith, Melissa Ursula Dawn | Fontes Artis Musicae, October-December 2009 | Go to article overview

A Guide to Library Research in Music


Goldsmith, Melissa Ursula Dawn, Fontes Artis Musicae


A Guide to Library Research in Music. By Pauline Shaw Bayne. Lanham, MD, Toronto, and Plymouth: Scarecrow, 2008. [xiv, 275 p. cloth: 978-0-8108-648-0. $60; paper: ISBN 978-0-8108-6211-1. $35.00]

Although the author explains that this book is written not only for graduates in music but also for motivated undergraduates and independent learners (p.i), this research guide is accessible to everyone interested in music research or writing about music. Ambitious and concisely written, A Guide to Library Research in Music will undoubtedly be a valuable resource for music librarians and music scholars in need of updating their knowledge; a worthwhile preparation tool for music graduate students who will be tested on music resources or source studies; and a helpful instruction guide for educators teaching music research and/or music information literacy. The author makes several assumptions about her audience. The first is that, while readers may already have acquired knowledge of individual call numbers, they do not necessarily understand call number patterns or how to browse nearby books; the second is that readers have already used Google and that most have used library catalogs. The assumption that the audience is primarily music graduate students at the beginning of their careers is the same as two contemporary books on the subject, Jane Gottlieb's Music Library and Research Skills (Prentice Hall, 2008) (reviewed in this issue of Fontes) and Laurie J. Sampsel's Music Research: A Handbook (Oxford UP, 2008) (reviewed in Fontes, 2009:1).

The book is divided into three parts: "The Short Course: Music Research and Writing," "How to: Discover and Use Resources," and "Resources: The Literature of Music." Most readers will need to start with the "Short Course." More seasoned scholars will be able to skip around comfortably. In the first part, Bayne gives several compelling reasons for doing music research: music graduate students need to evolve from consumers of music to scholarly contributors; for any given topic, they need to know the benchmark resources and primary documents; they need to acquire survival skills for graduate study; they need to research independently. Musicians (and future music scholars) can use this Short Course to "develop a context for their musical expression" (p.3). In these initial chapters, readers are introduced to various staples of research: the three stages of the research process (developing a topic, gathering and evaluating resources, and writing), reference books (bibliographies, dictionaries, and encyclopedias, among others), union catalogs, indexes, and journal databases. Though her focus is on music research, Bayne also introduces readers to multidisciplinary resources. In contrast to Sampsel and Gottlieb, Bayne focuses more on the research process and lifelong learning goals. Sampsel, however, is more clear than Gottlieb on distinguishing both the general and the music research process. Chapter 5 offers a case study (research focusing on Chopin's piano music), including the formation of a thesis statement. Chapters about scholarly writing conclude this section, with information on citation formats, copyrights and permissions, examples of writing (including abstracts, literature reviews, program notes, and theses, among others) and various style formats. Gottlieb, in contrast to Bayne and Sampsel, provides more information about editing.

Part 2 goes into further depth, exploring where to find different kinds of information, how to evaluate for authority, and how to identify the best sources. Search strategies dominate these chapters. These include browsing bookshelves, improving the effectiveness of online searching in any source by knowing the structure of the database, and understanding the difference between keywords and controlled vocabulary, such as Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) Also highlighted: knowing when to employ Boolean logic; learning about other sources through bibliographies, works-cited lists and citation indexes; using a works list to locate information in thematic catalogs; locating digital content, using metasearch engines and penetrating the hidden web.

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