Hanne Bruhns/Lise Widding
Two Danish music librarians give an account of their work and some of their visions.
In DMT, 1959/6 Erling Winkel(1) accounted for the position of the libraries in the musical life of Denmark. Especially concerning the public libraries, the article contains a number of prophecies to the effect that the activity on the music front will increase rapidly in future years. During the last five years so many renewals have, indeed, taken place in the service of the public libraries in this field that this articles will take its starting point in the public libraries.
The Library Act of 1964 meant the beginning of the development, directing the municipal libraries - on the basis of municipal grants with State aid - to place books and other material at the disposal of the public free of change. This is where the gramophone record comes in. Many libraries used to be frequented by a large number of users of the collections of notes and music literature, but the compiling of record collections to be listened to on the spot and especially for lending has drawn a large, new public to the libraries.
People come here in order to listen to a good record played on the apparatus of the library, or in order to borrow the records. Several music departments have begun with collections that were only meant to be listened to on the spot. Experience everywhere has shown, however, that as soon as the record collection has reached a certain size - minimum about 5.000 records for an average municipality - they ought to start lending and, if possible, having a "running" collection for listening.
In the largest music departments there are today 15-20.000 gramophone records, of these a couple of thousands for listening at most. The lending figures for a municipality of about 60.000 inhabitants amount to almost 90.000 records a year.
In the construction of the library there was, to begin with, a tendency to attach the greatest importance to classical music, but the development in recent years has brought about that half or more of the budget of the libraries is generally used for rock, light, and modern folk music. Although the criteria of selection are extended continually, only a few libraries buy the most commercial, light music on records. In this connection it must be mentioned that it might be interesting to establish an experimental library with among other things those pop-records and other material which libraries do not generally buy. In this way it could be discovered whether there is really an unmet library demand in some groups of the population, or whether it is imaginary, only existing in the consciousness of the librarians.
The gramophone record collections that have already been etablished have revealed a great latent interest, and the report on Revision of the Library Act, Audio-Visual Collections, published in 1970/71 does make a point of equalling the music record with book material, and assimilating the record collection in all the libraries of the country. As a rule the music department will develope organically. The collection will be built up with records as well as notes and literature of music, because, say, the interest in guitar records will quickly require the purchase of guitar notes and books about the guitar.
However new and exciting all this is, it belongs to the traditional lending jobs of the libraries. The work with the music departments has, however, proved to have a tendency to spread and lead to more and more activities. Several music libraries arrange gramophone record concerts recurrently, where the librarian, or sometimes a specialist from without the library, introduces a work and plays it afterwards. In the music library in Lyngby, for instance, "morning concerts" have been held weekly since its start in 1963 with on an average 25 listeners every time. The programme is laid down one month ahead, and may consist of: A composer of current interest, the music of a period, an instrument in various connections, an interpreter (conductor, singer, pianist) etc. In connection with the record concerts attention is drawn to relevant recordings and books about the subject. To cater for the young rock, folk, and jazz records are played in a nice room daily; the young people themselves make up the programme and make the practical arrangements.
Attempts have also been made in the libraries to form study groups led by the music librarian or by a local expert. More often, however, the libraries place rooms at the disposal of study groups, talks etc., which are arranged through the municipal evening schools or educational associations.
The largest music departments have a yearly budget to be used for concerts and exhibitions. In many libraries there are also lecture rooms and concert halls. Just as in the selection of books the various musical genres are taken into consideration when the programme of the concert is drawn up, and an evening with country music is just as gladly arranged as classical music on a Sunday morning. In the libraries, too, rock concerts are popular, and an influx of 1.500-2.000 people is frequently met with, whereas concerts of other kinds "settle for" an audience of about 350 each time. When arranging the aim is to present young artists and composers, who in this way - together with experienced musicians - get a chance to perform to a fairly large audience. For all genres it is the rule that the executant artists drawn up their own programmes, being, however, ready to meet special wishes.
Contact to the executant and creative musicians is important for the librarian for many reasons. On the long view it may help to solve many copyright problems that exclude today the lending and playing in public of tape-recorded works which are not available on gramophone records. Collaboration ought to have lasting importance to all parties.
Incidentally, concerts have proved to be held successfully in the lending department itself, because "music among books" creates a relaxed atmosphere which can counteract a little of that alienation which is sometimes felt by musicians in the presence of an audience. A few recently equipped libraries (e.g. the music department in Odense) have taken the consequence of this and adapted wheels to such large furniture as files and bookcases in order to allow for space for arrangements in the lending department. Concerts, study groups etc. arranged by the library are - like the lending of books and other material - open to the public free of charge.
This might be taken to mean that libraries with a great musical activity are in strong competition with institutions already in progress, such as local music societies. In practice, however, there is in most places a close co-operation between other music organs and the library, so that the music life of the municipality is co-ordinated through the library.
The library functions as a cultural secretariate effecting releases to the press, programmes and information to the local choirs and orchestra. In addition to own concerts, rooms are placed at the disposal of musicians and music societies that wish to make their own arrangements. From the library current catalogues and guides of music arrangements and music organs in the district are issued.
The music collections of the scientific and technical libraries are used by the public libraries to a great extent. The music department of the National Library in Århus functions as main central of music. The music department of The Royal Library is the main special library proper. There is a copyright deposit of all Danish music to the above mentioned libraries. Other institutions whose note collections are utilized by the public libraries include the library of The Royal Danish Conservatory, which has a large and interesting collection of notes.
There is no centre for gramophone records, and none is aimed at. It is preferred to cover the various fields through interurban lending. Yet the National Record Library, part of The National Museum, ought to be mentioned. In that there is a very large collection of records of an early date out of which the public libraries can get tape copies. Through the Union of Danish Music Libraries a co-operation has been established with the Record Library of Denmark's Radio from which much is expected.
All music institutions with library functions are united in the Union of Danish Music Libraries, which is the Danish branch of AIBM - Association Internationale des Bibliothèques Musicales. The purpose of this union is to further the international co-operation and at home to "further the music service in the Danish library system and to consolidate the position of the libraries in Danish musical life". Further information in the section about the Union of Danish Music Libraries in DMT, 1970/7-8.
In order to meet the demands for supplementary education the Library School of Denmark arranges short informative courses and a more complete four-month course, which are also joined by associates of for instance the Record Library of Denmark's Radio and people from the other Scandinavian countries.
Still new fields of activity are to be taken up. Many libraries have already bought music tapes, and no doubt there is a rapid development to be expected within this medium.
Another supposition which can become an interesting project for the music department is the lending of musical instruments. The natural consequence of this will be that music teachers are attached to the libraries, which must also make rooms for practice available.
In the report of the revision of the Library Act, Cultural Arrangements in the Public Libraries, 1970, it says, "The public libraries ought to have the possibility of mapping out the demand of new arrangements through new initiatives... It will be important if the public libraries, expecting a demand, can offer arrangements that are so special that they may only be of interest to a minor circle. Drawing up cultural arrangements, the public libraries ought to co-operate with initiative groups, and ought to seek expert aid. They should also be able to attach experts in various fields to the arranging activity". How this can be done is exemplified in the establishment of LUT - Lyngby Unge Tonekunstnere.
This is a society that owns its existence to the initiative of two local young composers. Its purpose is to hold concerts with new music. The library has supported the initiative and has placed rooms at their disposal for the concerts.
The development in the public libraries seems to point towards an enlargement of the music departments to special libraries that are used by the general public as well as by all kinds of students of music. At the same time the library becomes a music centre because of its secretariate and concert activities. The wish for an active, searching library that satifies the demands of a many-sided group, and which at the same time is an integrated part of the musical life of the district has moved within reach and so has the fulfilment of the purpose of a music library: To further all interest in music, pedagogic as well as creative in kind.
Hanne Bruhns, Lise Widding The Music Library in Lyngby
(1) M.A. in music. From 1943 to his death in 1969 leader of the music department of the National Library in Arhus. He was one of the main figures in the Danish library system.