Monday, March 24, 2008

Digitized music scores at the Sibley Music Library

The Rochester (NY) Regional Library Council (RRLC) wrote this news item on its web site about the Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music, which is part of University of Rochester (NY).
As the largest academic music library in North America, Sibley Music Library holds collections of unusual breadth and depth. Their public domain scores digitization project aims to make some of their riches widely available and easily accessible to musicians around the world. Thus far they have digitized some 2,600 scores and placed PDF files at UR Research ( For access to these scores find the ESM—Sibley Music Library “community” within UR Research and choose the “Musical Scores” collection. They began counting traffic at this site in February 2005; thus far there have been nearly 1,255,000 score downloads; the figure for the month of March 2008 alone (as of 3/24) is 72,900.
A quick search found that the digital collection contains not only score, but also theses. As for the score, one can quickly find scores from the 1800s. One score I retrieved was from 1844 ("Colour-music" by D.D. Jameson).

This is a wonderful resources...but now for the bad news.

The site carries a copyright statement, but there is no clear indication of what is being copyrighted. The About UR Research page, at the bottom, includes a link to Copyright Clearance and Fair Use. That then leads to links about copyright clearance, fair use, seeking permission, etc. That page has not been updated since 2002. In addition, none of the wording is user friendly. Rather than being plain and clear about what can and cannot be done, the text on the page will make most people's eyes glaze over. The fact that I had to search around for this information is also not user friendly.

Adding content is not enough with an ongoing program. They must also see what other changes need to be made and make them, too.

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