The Netherlands

By van Gemert, Joost | Fontes Artis Musicae, October-December 2014 | Go to article overview

The Netherlands


van Gemert, Joost, Fontes Artis Musicae


The worrying situation of music library work in The Netherlands has continued without abate. Due to political developments, there is no definitive solution yet for the housing of the collections of the Netherlands Music Institute, which contain a large collection of archival materials forming a unique source of information on Dutch music history and an important collection of old and rare printed music and books on music. The Institute was closed in September 2013 and its materials put into storage. The same is true for the music library of the Dutch public broadcasting companies, which is of very high quality and is of great historical interest from another point of view: among other things, the complete popular music repertory performed by Dutch radio and television ensembles since ca. 1920 can be found in this library, making it a treasure trove for research on popular music culture and music and media. In the public library sector, several music librarians have retired without being replaced. Their tasks are often taken over by more generally qualified colleagues, for instance, specialists in media and culture. Although such a broad outlook certainly has its advantages, it may also lead to the loss of badly needed expertise.

However, there are also some positive developments to be reported. In Arnhem, the capital of the province of Gelderland, a beautiful new multifunctional complex named "De Rozet" (The Rosette) was opened. In this building, which was named after its architectural ornaments, the Public Library, the Gelderland Heritage Center, and the Arnhem Historical Museum are housed together. These institutions' services and collections will be integrated and coordinated. And as a result of the merger of their two umbrella organizations, the PBAM and Muziek Uitleen en Informatiecentrum libraries, both specialized in the field of ensemble music and brass and wind band music, merged into the Musidesk service, the result being a forceful organization that will certainly be very effective in delivering specialized services. Furthermore, our colleague Simon Groot (Amsterdam University Library, Special Collections department) has taken the initiative to revive Dutch RISM activities, while our Board member and IAML Past-President Martie Severt is investigating the possibilities for renewed Dutch input in RILM.

Two study days were held, on 26 November 2013 and 20 May 2014 respectively, both attended by some forty persons.

The November 2013 study day, held at the Public Library of Arnhem, was devoted to the theme Fully on the Move. The new Rozet complex and its residents were the focus of the morming's work. Our Arnhem colleagues, Pieter Goossen and Corine Raats, gave us an extended tour through the building and told us about the Arnhem Public Library approach. Books are selected for the open stacks on the basis of lending statistics and are placed in three "worlds", one of them being "Art and Culture". 5% of them are placed "frontally" (that is, with a visible front cover.) There are always librarians walking around in the collection, so that they can easily be approached by patrons. As for the printed music collection, the cooperation with Kunstbedrijf, the Arnhem music school also housed in De Rozet, is important and will be intensified.

After lunch, Joost van Gemert (Utrecht University Library) told us about developments in the Dutch university libraries, presenting Utrecht University library as a case study. …

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