This month’s feature on Oberlin College Libraries is a special traveling, two-part series. This second installment focuses particularly on Oberlin’s Conservatory Library. Please see our first part here.
The Conservatory Library at Oberlin College serves as a lively central hub for the college’s four music buildings. Students meet, collaborate and even sing throughout the library. In fact, while we toured the library, we heard a group of students working through and harmonizing on a music piece!
The library was created soon after Oberlin Conservatory of Music’s inauguration in 1865, making the conservatory the oldest continuously operating conservatory of music in the United States. The current library building was constructed in 1963 and has undergone several enhancements. In 2000, the library’s collection was considerably expanded and a second story with high density shelving was added. In 2010, the library obtained a vault for the library’s incredible special collections, and in 2015 the Conservatory Library Special Collections Reading Room was opened.
Conservatory Librarian Deborah Campana noted the library is an essential partner to the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music . The library ranks among the largest academic music libraries with approximately 270,000 items, including 80,000 sound recordings, 127,000 musical scores and almost 63,000 books about music. Specialized online databases and computers equipped with composition software expand students’ discovery and technical expertise. The library continues to actively collect in the area of women musicians as well as ethnic, folk, jazz and other genres.
The Conservatory Library’s amazing special collections, managed by Jeremy Smith, contain rare materials from the 1500s through today. The collection comprises of a wide array of recordings, music manuscripts, autographs, photographs, engravings, paintings, posters, playbills and instruments. Jeremy oversees the ongoing digitization of the collections and creates engaging exhibits throughout Oberlin College’s campus.
The Conservatory Library at Oberlin College is a vibrant, musical space and a gem within the college.