As discussed and illustrated many times throughout our class, and observations; the library is a place for the community to come together to gather information. Traditionally it has been a place to pick up books, tax materials and the like, but as can be seen with many of the posts here, the library’s role has expanded a great deal. Music partnerships with libraries are very important to the music industry at all levels, the community, as well as the library patron.
Music is a natural phenomenon that all people on Earth participate in on many different levels and within their own cultures. When a toddler hears music he/she reacts, maybe by bouncing up and down, a smile, or with sound to go along with what they hear. Music brings people together who are like-minded, as well as introduces people to music they may not have heard before and can gain a new appreciation for it. Libraries are the perfect place to introduce people to new music as well as to celebrate music from different cultures or genres because they are a community space and are seen as a safe and welcoming place to be. Music is experienced through performing or listening and because many people find the genres they enjoy most, often they don’t explore new things. Libraries can have open music nights. The King Count Library in Seattle Washington, for example, partnered with the Bluegrass Festival and was a venue for one of the performances. The Detroit Public Library in Detroit Michigan partners with a group called Java and Jazz where live jazz groups come in to perform and patrons can have free coffee during intermission.
The library can be used as a performing venue, but what about the patrons who really enjoy music and enjoy listening? Patrons who enjoy books have the opportunity to hold book clubs in the library to talk about books and learn about new books, but patrons who really love music can have that too. The library can be a place for patrons to meet up and have listening parties. Patrons can listen, critique the music, as well as give suggestions for new music to check out. This offers music buffs the opportunity to listen as a community and ultimately network with others in their community.
If we step outside of the library we can also see music groups such as orchestras, bands, etcetera promoting through the library. The Cincinnati Opera partners with the Cincinnati Library System to hold its archives as well as to put out exhibits. Local bands will often work to promote their new music through the library by having advertisements up on the information board, as well as handing out promotional CD’s or personally promoting their groups at the library. Many musicians from the surrounding area will post their information as music teachers for private lessons at the public library as well, where many patrons can see as they walk through the main entrance. Libraries also have the opportunity to work with local radio stations to promote patrons coming in and using new music software. For example, the Genesee District Library partnered with a local rock station, to promote Freegal Music Software. Patrons have the opportunity to have free guitar lessons through a local music store and patrons who take the lessons or download using Freegal have the opportunity to win a Fender Guitar signed by the musical group Evanescence . The rock station donated the guitar as well as monetary support for the program.
All of these ideas are great and help the musical groups, but how can it positively and negatively affect the community library? In a positive light, promoting music groups, community musicians, and music enthusiasts, helps give the library publicity. It helps get patrons in the door to participate in the community information process, and helps give them the opportunity to experience and learn and expand what they know. Most of the time, the view of a library once a person gets older is that the library is for children, or it is boring. By offering these events, and opportunities, the library has the opportunity to prove its relevance to the community at large.
While appealing to musical groups is good, it can also pose negative effects as well. For example, if a library begins to help promote musical groups and individual musicians it can become a giant advertisement building rather than a community group. Consequently, it can cause patrons to feel like they are being bombarded and pressured by advertising, which then ruins the feeling that the library is a safe place. It is a very positive thing to be able to have the library used as a performance space, however this can pose a problem for the library as well. All of a sudden the clientele can change. Instead of patrons interested in community learning etc, all of a sudden patrons begin to view the library as a performance venue, and the level of respect for patrons who are not at the library for a performance, can be in question.
Library partnerships with the music industries, and individual musicians is really a great thing, however with any great partnership the ways in which partnerships work best is if both sides get to know how the other side works. It is incredibly important for the library to communicate its needs as well as expectations for the respect for its space. Without this understanding a partnership of any type would end up taking over and changing the dynamic of the library from community centered to a narrowly centered one genre view. Each side needs to do its homework so as to provide each other the opportunity to benefit and provide the patron with a full well rounded experience.
Genesee County Public Library. (2013). Events. Retrieved from http://www.thegdl.org/
Petersen, Tom (2011) Festival Partnerships with Local Libraries: A Wintergrass Case
Study. International Music Bluegrass Association. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. (2013). About Us Library Partners.
Retrieved from http://www.cincinnatilibrary.org/info/partners.html