Music: a place for libraries

According to a number of news articles, Twitter is making a move in the music industry. Wall Street Journal’s article “Twitter Music Is Here Today, and This Time You Can Use It” reports that, while limited, Twitter will be creating a music function to its text-based social media site (Kafka, 2013). BBC elaborates that Twitter has combined forces with music company “We are hunted” to make this technology possible (Twitter, 2013). This takes the 120 character social media fluke up a notch in the battle between social media titans, but why? As CNN’s recent article “Why everyone’s building a web music service” suggests, music is a big trend is technology and it’s only going to get bigger (Gross, 2013). Music is becoming an essential way that we connect and communicate, sending our thoughts, stories and feelings through the internet and downloading them directly into our ears. It begs the question, if social media can do it, why not libraries? Does music have a place there as well?

Music is information. According Miriam and Webster, information is “The communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence” (Information, 2013). There is a lot of information that can be gathered from music. Music give us a picture of humanity across time. Not only that, but librarians are already involved with collecting and cataloging this information. There are entire libraries devoted to the collection of music, including the UCLA music library and the Oxford Music library. The Oxford Music library has one of the largest collection of online music information through their database, Grove Music (Music library: welcome, 2013). When it comes to the music trend, libraries are already prepared.

For these and other libraries like them, there is the Music Library Association, which deals with the issues that these libraries encounter. The Music Library Association, gives good clear advice for collecting and maintaing music collections (Music Library Association, 2012). Music libraries have many of the answers that the music industry is looking for.  But these articles do not mention libraries. In fact, if you comb through the material related to the future of music, librarians are virtually invisible.  Maybe the information professional in these articles looks a little different from what we are used to.

Professionals are not absent from these news articles and there business, like ours, is information. After all, who is Twitter? To answer this question, I looked at the jobs section of the Twitter webpage. This is what I found. They are looking for designers, engineers, researchers and customer services representatives. There are over fifty unfilled positions available now. But they are not librarians.

It may seem as if technology is cutting us out.  “Technology appears to be driving us all “fast forward” into changed professional lives where line of interest and responsibility are no longer clear,” says library researcher B. L. Craig. It is a dark future dotted with articles such as this one: “New York is Shelving Its Prison Law Libraries” (Gershman, 2013). This article depicts an organization dedicated to protecting the free access to information, so long as it can afford to do so.

Still, I do not think this is the future of the library profession.  Compare that dismal anecdote to this article, “Years of Magical Thinking Conjured Up the Works in This Library”. No, it is not about librarians praying for better days. It is about a remarkable collection and the lucky person who gets to keep it. We are lucky, lucky to be surround by a wealth of information and information seekers every single day. Our collections are still incredible, but our methods need to evolve. Is there a way that Twitter can help us chart our course?

The future of information professionals needs:

Engineers:

Our methods of organization need to been re-invented. The Internet is only one way that information can transcend its shelves and figuring out different ways of organizing and displaying our information is a critical aspect of that.

Designers:

We are not only looking at the quality of our information, but how it appeals to our information seekers. Although, the content is still the main vehicle, as professionals we can give good content the advantages that it deserves.

Researchers:

Who are our users, what do they want? How can we further investigate each level of the library business to make it meet the needs of the people who go to them.

Customer Service Representatives:

How are we, and not just the information we provide, essential? How does having someone to help you enhance the library experience? How can we be guides and vehicles of discovery?

Music is a place for libraries, but not only that, libraries are a place for music. Libraries and the services they provide are essential to the future of our world and so are the people who catalog, organize and maintain the information in those libraries. Twitter is evolving by acquiring new media. Libraries already have the media; they simply need change how they make that media available.

References:

Craig, B. (2011). The Past May Be the Prologue: History’s Place in the Future of the Information Professions. Libraries & The Cultural Record, 46(2), 206-219. Retrieved from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=llf&AN=60800639&site=ehost-live

Gallegos, D. (2013, March 20). Years of Magical Thinking Conjured Up the Works in This Library. retrieved from: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323826704578356542833994224.html

Gershman, J. (2013, April 4). New York Is Shelving Its Prison Law Libraries. Retrieved from: http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2013/04/04/new-york-is-shelving-its-prison-law-libraries/
Gross, D. (2013, April 15). Why everyone’s building a web music service. CNN tech. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/12/tech/web/web-music-services/index.html?iref=allsearch

Information. (2013) Miriam-webster.com. Retrieved from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/information

Kafka, P. (2013, April 18). Twitter Music Is Here Today, and This Time You Can Use It. Retrieved from: http://allthingsd.com/20130418/twitter-music-is-here-today-and-this-time-you-can-use-it/

Music Library Association. (2012). http://copyright.musiclibraryassoc.org/Resources/FAQ

Music library: Welcome. (2013). UCLA Library. Retrieved from: http://www.library.ucla.edu/libraries/music/music-library

Twitter acquisition move hints at music service. (2013, April 12) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22121338

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5 thoughts on “Music: a place for libraries

  1. Katherine – Your post reminded of a movie quote, “We are the music makers… and we are the dreamers of dreams.” So many industries are vying for the attention of the public that they are quickly finding ways to obtain the information needed to stay competitive. I agree that if libraries want (and need) to stay current with the trend then they need to find innovative ways to be the front runners. Amanda Marez-Frutchey

  2. Wonderful!! As someone who is pursuing a career in music librarianship, I thank you for talking about this. Pirating music is definitely one of the biggest problems libraries and the music industry is facing right now. I have heard (but admittedly do not know too much about this) that businesses like Blockbuster Video and Netflix have a way of stopping people from burning their DVDs. I have heard that burning DVDs is becoming more and more difficult because of encryption within the DVDs which will either stop the burner from ripping the information file, or after the DVD has been ripped, the encryption creates many different files, all with hundreds of other files enclosed, so unless someone has a lot of time on their hands, it makes it nearly impossible to locate the single file that plays the movie. Maybe that is something the music industry and distribution centers could consider for music CDs. Great job, Katherine!!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this. I agree, we do have to evolve with the times. We will have to find new ways to organize and make accessible the information everyone wants.

  4. Here’s my question, you imply that the music industry is in need of the type of work that librarians are trained to do, but is the music industry trying to collect, catalog, and organize music? You said, “Maybe the information professional in these articles looks a little different from what we are used to.” I think one of the main differences is that the music industry is trying to sell music while libraries are looking for ways to give it away for free. Those differing goals put information professionals in those two types of organizations at odds.

    • I think that music librarians are in a unique and valuable niche as collectors, catalogers and organizers of music. So, I do not feel that librarians would be in conflict with the goals of the music industry on that level. You bring up a good point about how we come into conflict with other information professionals. I do not think I addressed that in the post because it could be addressed in a post of its own. Librarians are tasked to protect intellectual property and to advance the visibility of its collection. Those goals can definitely be at odds with one another.

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