Library student, Kirsty Morgan, volunteers for the Music Library

Today, we hand the blog over to one of our volunteers, Kirsty Morgan, who tells us how she’s been getting involved in the Music Library:

“For the past six months, I’ve been enjoying volunteering in Central Library’s Music Library. It started as an 11-week student placement, arranged through the Information and Library Studies Masters that I’m currently studying for at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. I want to make my career in music librarianship, so I’ve continued volunteering after the placement finished.

I’m involved in a project to rearrange how the books are ordered on the shelves. Library staff call this work classification. The aim of the project is to bring the Music Library’s collection of printed sheet music and books in correct line with the Library of Congress classification system which is used for arranging adult non-fiction in Edinburgh Libraries.

Kirsty volunteering in the Music Library

Over time the Music Library staff have created their own version of the classification system, but this has meant that they can’t use records created by other libraries and it’s been less easy for our borrowers to find what they need. In 2014, the Music Library started the project of rearranging the sheet music and sticking to the proper version of Library of Congress. What difference does this make to finding items? A big change is that books are no longer arranged by composer, instead grouped by type of music, format, and instrument and then within that composer. Another change is that books about learning to play instruments are separate from collections of music.

Although I was nervous to begin with, having had very little experience working with Library of Congress, my team leader has guided me, provides ongoing support and checks my work. The staff are very friendly and I’m really enjoying the project. Deciphering where a book belongs is like a detective puzzle. I was interested in the implications of using an American classification system in a Scottish library. Library of Congress uses extra numbers for the main instruments but fewer for the more obscure ones – and in an American library, bagpipes are an obscure instrument…

So far, I’ve classified just over 900 books, which is a small dent in the 100,000 resources that the Music Library carries – although that number includes all the recorded music, too. I’ve found the Music Library placement really rewarding, and I think it will help me towards my goal of working as a music librarian. I’m excited to continue the reclassification project with the library for as long as they let me stay. I’m learning a lot each day, I’m happy I can continue to help with the project and I’m gaining even more music library experience!”

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