I have been the Music Librarian for my local choral society for six years now. Over the years we have sung such diverse pieces as Bach’s St. Matthe Passion and Jonathan Dove’s The Passing of the Year, as well as choral works by Pizzetti, Widor, Langlais, Schumann, Handel, Mozart, Brahms and many others. We have used one particular public library to source the music, because not only have they themselves got a large range of music sets available for local music societies, but also their music librarian is extremely knowledgeable about classical music (as a good amateur musician himself) and how to obtain sets for us.
Unfortunately, his post is under discussion at the current time (September 2010) and he has told us that if he were to be made redundant we would not get the same level of service that we have enjoyed up until now. The libraries in our area are currently selling off vast amounts of their music stock as well – and they are not replacing it. We would find it very hard to obtain music without the help of a public library. Music publishers do have hire libraries, but they are run more like businesses and charge a lot more for the use of their music. This would have an obvious knock-on effect for our members and our choir.
The UK has this extremely rich resource of music in public libraries, which has been built up over the last 50 years or so – not to mention the extensive knowledge of some music librarians – which local communities, churches, music societies and organisations have been lucky enough to tap into at a relatively low cost. As far as I see it these valuable resources – both music scores and knowledge – are being destroyed in our current economic climate.