The music collection primarily serves the need of the School of Music.

Current areas of collecting

The music selector covers music history, music theory, musicology, ethnomusicology, and music performance. Special emphasis is on collected editions, historic sets, monuments of music, scholarly editions, facsimile editions, historical anthologies of classical music from all time-periods, and dissertations.

Research and publishing characteristics

The study of music requires library materials in a wide range of published formats, both printed and audio-visual. Printed formats include monographs, serials, periodicals, microforms, and music scores (both modern editions and facsimile editions of manuscripts). Audio-visual formats include compact discs, LP (vinyl) recordings, cassette tapes, reel-to-reel tapes, videotapes, laserdiscs, multimedia CD-ROMs, and interactive CD-ROMs. Reference tools are primarily printed monographs.


Music dictionaries and encyclopedias, bibliographies, discographies, indexes & abstracts, catalogues of other music collections, bibliographic databases, music scores, videotapes and DVDs, sound recordings, and multimedia.

Music scores: Scores are published in a variety of formats and editions. The library often must acquire a title in several editions to meet different needs; new scholarly editions of music are generally purchased to provide access to the latest scholarship and to enable comparison of various editions. Single copies are acquired; multiple copies of choral and operatic works, and sets of orchestral & band parts for performance purposes are purchased and housed by the School of Music. The Music Library acquires scores and parts for chamber music up to & including 5 parts; when there are more than 5 parts, only the score is purchased. The preferred format for scores is the study score; if not available, then a full score may be purchased. In the case of operas and other stage works, a piano-vocal score may also be purchased. Piano reductions of orchestral music (for piano 4-hands or 2 pianos) may be required. Vocal music is purchased not only in the original key but also in other tessituras (high, medium, & low voice); texts should be in the original language and when possible also in English translation. Choral music is purchased in full score, not in octavo editions. Popular arrangements of music are not purchased.

Videotapes: Operas, historic performances, master classes and educational videos are purchased in VHS format when available with Public Performance Rights for Canada. Many opera and music videos are licensed for home use only, so selection is limited. Laserdisc format should be considered, but is not currently being collected because of lack of viewing equipment.

Sound recordings: Compact discs are selected to complement the music scores collection. New and definitive performances are selected, as well as digital reissues of historic recordings. Vinyl (33 1/3 RPM LPs) and tape recordings are no longer acquired except in the case of unique recordings not otherwise available. Sound effects, children’s music and spoken word recordings are not collected.

Multimedia: The library is considering this rapidly-growing technology for future selection. Interactive CD-ROM products combining music scores, recordings, and critical commentary may be purchased once the necessary hardware is in place.


Monographs selected predominantly in English, French, German, and Italian; selective coverage of other European languages. For music scores, editions of vocal music are selected in the original language of composition; editions with English translations may be selected also.

Geographic origin

Emphasis is on North America, Great Britain, and Europe; to a lesser extent Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.


Materials covering jazz, popular music, world music, music education (K- 12), children’s music, music therapy are very selectively acquired.

Collections in other UBC Libraries/ Areas of overlap

Art + Architecture + Planning Library: Materials about the relationship of fine arts and music, particularly dance, iconography, and architecture.

Asian Library: Music materials in the vernacular.

Education Library: Children’s music, both scores and recordings, and materials relating to K-12 music education.

Koerner Library: The Wilson Recordings Collection contains vinyl and compact disc recordings of classical and folk music, jazz, musicals, sound effects, and spoken word. This is a circulating collection, whereas the Music Library’s recordings are a Library Use Only teaching collection. This library also has several large microform sets containing opera libretti.

Law Library: Legal aspects of the music business; copyright.

Rare Books and Special Collections: Theses done at UBC; collection of rare music manuscripts; Phil Thomas folk song collection.

Woodward Library: Vocal physiology, performance-related injuries and medical problems, stress management, and music therapy.