Library improvements kick up tempo in Music Department

Improved structures, technology promote new accessibility

The University’s Music Library in Old Cabell Hall was upgraded during the summer and now has extended weekday hours.

The library will now be open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and close at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Matthew Vest, a new librarian in the Music Library, said the team spent an extensive amount of time planning the summer upgrades.

“[We wanted] a total refresh of the space, including new carpet,” Vest said. “Two layers of asbestos were removed to create a healthier environment. This was funded by University facilities.”

Music Performance Librarian Winston Barham said most of the new furniture and carpet were paid for by parents’ funds and endowed funds with the arts libraries.

“A lot of [the furniture] is new,” Barham said. “We tried to do what we could. This is a historic building at the University, so there are a lot of strictures on things. We really tried to open it up and make the space as accessible as we could.”

Most of the library’s music materials are found downstairs in the stacks. Vest said this area was made more accessible once shelving, which was previously in the hallway, was removed. The stacks are now much easier to navigate.

Music Library Operations Manager Bill Sun said better accessibility in the stacks makes it easier for students to study there.

“After we moved the shelves, we made a lot of hidden corners for students to study quietly, and it seems that people really enjoy that,” Sun said.

The Music Library has the only collection of music that can circulate, and they have everything from classical music, to theater, to popular music.

“We have a lot of 20th and 21st century music,” Barham said, “so a lot of music by emerging composers.”

Barham also said the library contains music from central European countries, especially in Slavic languages. The library also contains a large collection of hymnals that were printed in Virginia.

The library’s MediaScape table is designed so that up to six people can share what is on their computer screens, facilitating easier digital collaboration.

“We added audio capability as well, so that you can share your multimedia projects,” Barham said.

The renovated music library also includes space for graduate student storage.

The upstairs of the library is a flexible, open space, which Vest said will be used for more cultural events and gatherings, including the current series “Making Noise.” This series included the installation of “egg chairs,” which create an immersive sound environment.

“Both egg chairs will be available for anyone to listen to their device,” Vest said. “This presents an incredible opportunity to study sound and music, but it’s also a way to immerse yourself and close the world off if you’re studying.”

Barham said with the renovations of New Cabell and the courtyard, it seemed the time was right for the Music Library to renovate as well.

Library IT Support Tech Eric Seidel was responsible for setting up the library’s Virgo Stations. These iPads look into the library’s catalog system without having to use the standard PC setup.

“This is more energy efficient, and will work if the power is out as long as the WiFi is still on,” Seidel said. “We’re also going to have digital signage … right out front by the first pillar.”

The library team said student-oriented upgrades will continue.

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