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No. 68April 2003


Davidson College Music Library Moves into New Quarters

By Steve Mantz, Music Librarian, Davidson College

The Davidson College Music Library as seen from the main entrance Early in the morning on August 5, 2002, a Mayflower moving truck pulled up to the Cunningham Fine Arts Building on the Davidson College campus. Within the hour, movers entered the Music Library and began filling large wooden carts with scores and recordings. As each cart was filled, it was wrapped in sheets of clear plastic, much as one would wrap leftovers, and numbered. The music department’s move to its new facility was under way; it would take several days to complete.

For years, the music department and its activities had been spread across six buildings on campus. After the opening of the new Alvarez College Union in 2001, the former union facility was ready to be renovated for new tenants. The Davidson College music department was to be united under one roof with state-ofthe- art facilities, in what was eventually to be named the Perry A. and Lillie Duke Clements Sloan Music Center.

The building that was to become the Sloan Music Center was first constructed in 1941 as the college library. A west wing was added in 1958, giving the building a “T” shape, and in 1975 it was remodeled as the college union. Now it was to become the new home of the music department and the music library. The Pittsburgh- based architectural firm of MacLachlan, Cornelius & Filoni was hired to plan the $10.7 million renovation.

The building presented many challenges as a renovation project. The basement area, which had ceilings low enough to touch, had to be dug out to provide the space necessary for the physical plant and for practice rooms and teaching studios with adequate acoustics. The heavy cement structure of the building, designed originally to hold the weight of thousands of books, was not easily wired for the power and network requirements of a modern academic building. In several areas the original stack floors still existed, and would have to be removed.

The music library was placed on the first floor of the building, and given the entire north wing. Started in 1939 with a gift of 78- rpm albums from the Carnegie Foundation, the library had been administered by the music department until 1994, when it became a branch of the college library. Now serving the entire college, the music library continues to have a close and supportive relationship with the music department. The size and location of the music library in the new facility is no small show of support by the music department and the college in general, especially when considering the space-intensive needs of music programs.

The 1,900 square feet renovated for the music library encompassed two distinct areas set apart by three large cement pillars. One area, a large meeting room when the building was the student union, had been the reference room when the building was a library. The other area, running the length of the west side of the room, was originally stacks. At the time of the renovation, a wall had been built between the pillars, separating this area from the meeting room. Metal stairs ran up to a “stacks” floor above, where offices had been squeezed in. This floor was supported, in large part, by the shelving supports still present below it on the main floor.

In the early planning stages of the project, there was some hope that this floor could be retained and made into a mezzanine for the library. Visions of a unified music library, which would be achieved by relocating the thirty-four sections of music books from the main library, were soon dashed, however, as architects determined that the cost would be prohibitive.

The layout of the music library that emerged in working with the architects consisted of four main areas: the circulation/office area, study alcoves, AV stacks, and a listening area. The room has a very open feel, having high ceilings and many large windows. There is seating for twenty-four users.

Circulation, reserves, and office. As one walks through the library entrance, the circulation desk is on the right. A two-level desk provides workstations for the student employee doing circulation and reserves, and for the librarian doing reference. Four sections of shelves are behind the desk, providing ample space for the roughly 500 items placed on reserve each term.

The librarian’s office is located behind the circulation desk. Glass walls provide an unobstructed view of the entire library, and allow users to easily see and communicate with the librarian. Two desks are in the office: one for the librarian, and one for students performing technical services functions. Three sections of shelves provide space for items awaiting cataloging or other processing. A storage closet for supplies was an added bonus, squeezed in under ductwork for the heating and air conditioning.

Study alcoves. On the left as one enters the library are four study alcoves. These arose as planners considered how to handle the large (40 inches wide by 20 inches deep) cement pillars in the middle of the room. Shelves were run from the pillars to the wall, and then around the surrounding walls, creating small alcoves that hold one table each. The shelves, 11 feet tall, function effectively as walls, providing a sense of privacy for students studying there. A large window in each alcove provides natural light. Sixteen- inch shelves under the windows double as a window seats.

The print collection is divided among the first three alcoves: reference books are in the first alcove, scores in the second and third. There was enough shelf space in the plans to allow many scores held in the main library (primarily “M2s”) to be transferred to the music library.

The table in each alcove seats four and is wired with electrical and network connections for laptops. At first we considered placing desktop computers here, but eventually decided against it as we felt strongly that students needed some open table space. To provide flexibility during crunch times, the library purchased three laptops that can be checked out for use at these tables. (Although the library is also configured for wireless networking, we felt that the unknowns of streaming music over wireless connections were such that we wanted “hard-wired” ethernet connections available, too.)

The chairs, here and throughout the music library, are Sauder three-position chairs.

A fourth alcove, at the back of the library, is actually enclosed by walls, and functions as a group listening and viewing room. Besides the usual audio and video equipment, a computer is also located in this room, allowing groups to listen to sound reserves delivered as streaming audio.

AV stacks. At the back of the library are freestanding shelves for videos, DVDs and compact discs. These wooden shelving units were custom made; we searched unsuccessfully for freestanding shelves for CDs that fit into the limited space allotted. Fortunately, we are speaking of only three 90-inch tall units, plus a shorter 40-inch unit, so the cost was manageable. Anchoring these narrow units to the floor made them stable enough that overhead support brackets were unnecessary.

Deeper shelves, for the still-used LP collection, line the back walls. The photocopier is also located against the back wall.

Listening stations. Eight listening stations are located at the center of the library. At one table are four Dell computers equipped with headphones, used for listening to CDs or streaming audio files, DVD viewing, and library research. Although the computers contain software that enables students to view and/or print documents (such as a Microsoft Word viewer), they do not have word processing, spreadsheet, or presentation programs. Students needing those can find them on the laptops available for checkout. Wordpad is provided to allow students to take notes.

At another table are four stations where cassettes tapes, LPs, and CDs can be played. A “stand-up” terminal is located nearby, for quick reference to the catalogue.

The actual renovation of the building took only fifteen months, and has been wildly successful. Use of the music library has increased dramatically, despite the increasing use of electronic reserves by faculty. And the new location, closer to the center of campus, has encouraged non-music faculty and students to visit the facility. The shelf space available in the library allows for a minimum of ten years of collection growth; with judicious collection management, the true figure is probably closer to fifteen years.

Many SEMLA members answered questions, offered suggestions, or invited us to visit their facilities as we planned for the new music library. I appreciate the support of my SEMLA colleagues, many of whom had recently been through construction projects of their own. Their support and advice were invaluable.

Those attending the upcoming ACRL meeting in Charlotte (April 10-13) will have the opportunity to visit the Davidson College Library, including the Music Library—it is on one of the tours of area attractions being offered to attendees. But the door is always open. Exit 30 on I-77 in North Carolina. Visit us anytime!

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From the Chair...
Sarah Dorsey
University of
North Carolina-Greensboro

Dearest SEMLAites,

I write to you with a heavy heart. The world at large and my personal world have recently been shaken to their core. At first I did not think I could write a column at all and then I remembered how important it is to share your burdens with your friends.

Recently I taught a session of a library school class for the first time, and because of the world situation I sang a song before starting the class (called it a “demonstration” of music) because I could not be silent (and in this country I don’t have to be, right?). The first verse is:

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d ever dreamed before.
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.

It is by Ed McCurdy, a Canadian songwriter, and I think it is a wonderful dream. Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and Simon and Garfunkel have all recorded his songs.

In the midst of difficult times we must keep going (I find that is often my mantra these days). And it must be said that Spring inspires even in the darkest of times. So, in that spirit I will remind you of the many volunteer opportunities for SEMLA you have in front of you.

Wasn’t Austin a great MLA meeting? I especially enjoyed the opportunity to rally and march in the capital city of GWB’s home state! I urge those of you who are not MLA members to consider coming to next year’s meeting (and as the Membership Committee chair to consider joining as well). The conference is in DC and therefore within reach of many of us. And perhaps there will be rallies and marches as well! Can you tell I’m an old hippie?

As stated at our chapter meeting in Austin (and in an e-mail I sent out thereafter) we are looking for liaisons to our thirteen library schools (Neil informed me that we have a newer one at Valdosta State in Georgia). I’ve gotten some volunteers, but consider this if you are in the same institution as (or even just nearby) a library school. We are also connecting up with state library associations similarly. This should not be a huge time commitment, but an opportunity to connect with nearby colleagues. We are still looking for people to head the Best of Chapters and the SEMLA Travel Grant committees. In the next month I will be appointing people if these positions are not filled soon, so you may get a call or an e-mail from me—beware!

The nominating committee and program committee and local arrangements committee are bubbling along with their plans for our meeting in Chapel Hill/Durham in October (23-25—I’m sure you have it in your books, right?). I thank them for their wonderful work and look forward to the fruits thereof. This should be an excellent meeting—with a great variety of programs planned and entertainment choices after the meeting is over.

In closing, I would like to honor my friend John Daverio, who has been missing for over three weeks. If it were not for John, I would not have finished my Master’s degree at Boston University and would not be where I am today. I am holding John in the light wherever he may be. His latest book (Crossing Paths: Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms. Oxford University Press, 2002) has a dedication to his friend (and mine) Effie that I will quote here. Thank you, John.

With the passage of time, old things become new. —Nicostratus


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Election 2003
Call for Nominations

The SEMLA 2003 Nominating Committee has been charged with submitting two nominations each for the offices of Secretary- Treasurer and Member-at-large. This is the second call for candidates who are eligible to be nominated for these two SEMLA offices. Candidates for office must be members in good standing* of the Southeast Chapter. Candidates for Secretary-Treasurer must also be members of MLA, Inc.

Only one nomination has been received for the office of Secretary-Treasurer. We need one more nomination for that office, and at least two for the office of Member-at-large.

The Member-at-large serves one year as program chair and the second year as chair of nominations. If you have burning issues or ideas that you have been inspired to share with the membership in the form of a program, this is your opportunity to enrich the professional horizons of your colleagues. You will collaborate with local arrangements and two other volunteers or selected SEMLA members who have compatible interests and outlooks.

Before submitting a name or your own name as a potential candidate, please review the descriptions of each office in the Chapter Officers’ Handbook (available at You may also feel free to contact the current holder of that office to obtain additional information about the duties of that office.

Please don’t pass up this chance to serve SEMLA! Names of potential candidates should be submitted to the Nominating Committee.

Rashidah Z. Hakeem:
Margaret Miller:
Lee Richardson:

* SEMLA Bylaws, Article III: Membership, 5: “Members in good standing, i.e. Regular and Student members with current dues paid, shall be entitled to vote at Chapter meetings or by mailed ballot and to receive any publications of the Chapter.” ( bylaws.html)

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Member News

Harry Eskew, retired music librarian of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary who is living in Macon, Georgia, is working on a collection development project for Mercer University. He is examining Mercer’s holdings in church music and making recommendations for collection development to support a proposed graduate degree program in this field.

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Last updated 10/13/03