At the ASW 2017

Home from home in Exeter

Being a member of the Conference Committee, I knew what the programme for the IAML (UK & Irl) Annual Study Weekend in Exeter looked like but of course it only comes alive when you’re there. I missed the previous ASW in Manchester so I was really looking forward to catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones!

One of my roles on the Conference Committee is to administer the ‘buddy’ scheme, where each ASW Newcomer is paired up with a returning ASW delegate so that they have a point of contact to turn to with questions, or to simply sit next to during breaks if desired. This scheme has been going for a few years now and is very much appreciated by the Newcomers, so much so that it is now being organised for the international conference!

Poster announcing appearance of Villa-Lobos in São Paulo (17 February 1922).
Public Domain.

The wonderful thing about ASWs is the mix of content, from the technical (such as the copyright session), to the musicological (such as the Villa Lobos session), and the chance to see what everyone else is doing in their libraries. I’m always really interested in hearing what other music libraries are up to as there’s no better way to get inspiration for my own library! (Surrey Performing Arts)

Educational partnerships are something we would love to build on in Surrey and the benefits are numerous, the Foundling Museum, for example, benefits from free conservation work from the students. It also loans exhibitions to museums, libraries and galleries which raises the profile and use of the collection and attracts new and returning visitors.

Exhibitions are something that the Barbican Music Library has become well known for which has led to some high profile partnerships, including with orchestras, artists and musicians. The Barbican Music Library publicise their exhibitions in the local and national media and, similarly to the Foundling Museum, lend their exhibitions to other venues. Revenue is raised through exhibition-related sales (e.g. badges) and all of this helps to raise the profile of the Library. One of their exhibitions used materials borrowed from the National Jazz Archive, and this inspired us in Surrey to approach the National Jazz Archive for a display for Black History Month in October 2016.

A presentation that took my breath away was the collaboration between Trinity College, Dublin and the Irish Traditional Music Archive who have digitised and made freely available online the James Goodman manuscripts of Irish traditional music containing over 2,000 melodies. This is a resource that I can only dream about producing in Surrey, but it goes to show what can be achieved through partnership working and has really inspired me to look into ways that the Surrey Performing Arts Library can reach out to local organisations in order to enhance the service we offer, reach new audiences and raise our profile.

The visit to Exeter Public Library was really interesting, as the Library is run by Libraries Unlimited rather than the county council (in a wonderful recently refurbished building), and is one of the most visited libraries in the country. The Centre Manager explained that there is a lot more freedom under Libraries Unlimited, which is really fascinating to hear from a county council-run viewpoint. A visit to the famous Fab Lab was a must, but it was also really interesting to see the range of music stock on the public shelves, and the music sets and play sets in the basement, particularly as Surrey borrows and lends music sets to/from Devon,

The highlight of the weekend for me was identifying a tune that a customer had emailed to me saying I was his last hope! I’m so grateful to Richard Buxton for identifying ‘The Policeman’s Holiday’, which I’m really quite fond of now. I emailed my customer who was delighted and replied: ‘You are amazing!…I have the picture of all those librarians humming to themselves instead of concentrating on the conference sessions!…I am thrilled!’

In summary, attending the ASW enabled me to fulfil my roles on the Conference Committee and therefore assist in the smooth running of the ASW.  It also enhanced my presentation skills; broadened my musical knowledge; enabled me to network with colleagues and make new contacts; and it gave me lots of information and ideas that will help me answer enquiries and enhance my library. I would like to sincerely thank the Music Libraries Trust and Cramer Music for awarding me a bursary, without which I wouldn’t have been able to attent the ASW.

Ellie Miles, Surrey Performing Arts

Ed.- This is an abridged version of Ellie’s article which will be published in full in the June issue of the IAML (UK & Irl) newsletter.