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A General Guide to the Music Library

This guide will assist patrons in using the Cook Music Library in Fall 2020

Materials at the Cook Music Library

Does the music library have books?

Yes! We have books about all aspects of music. We also have books about ballet. If you're seeking a libretto--that is, the full text of an opera, musical, or other stage work--we have those books, too.

In addition to our collection of scores and recordings, the music library dedicates the third floor to journals and books on music literature and theory, and there is a section of noncirculating reference books on the first floor. Reference books range from dictionaries of music terms, to phonetic transcriptions of famous arias, to encyclopedias about music from all around the world.

What's the difference between books in the reference section, the stacks, journals, frontlog, new books, or the vault?

  • Reference: These items include encyclopedias, thematic catalogs, and scholarly works that are used so frequently that library staff want to ensure they are always available. For this reason, reference books are only allowed to be used within the library itself. 
  • Stacks: Stacks is another word for our general collection. If something is in the stacks, you may browse and check out these items. 
  • Journals: Unlike many other libraries, we're lucky to offer printed versions of journals dating back for decades.  Read from the journals, scan them, or ask library staff if you can check a volume out for a temporary period. 
  • Frontlog: Frontlog books are located on the ground floor of the music library which can only be accessed by library staff. If the book you need has a location of "frontlog," visit the front circulation desk so that staff can get the item for you. 
  • New books: These books are hot off the press! They are located on the short shelves underneath the television screen in the lobby of the music library.
  • Vault: Some materials are so rare and expensive that we keep them in a staff-only area called the vault. Patrons can request access to these materials by visiting the Music Library circulation desk and filing out a Vault Item Request form. It can take up to one business day to retrieve these materials, and these can only be used in a certain area of the library. Please ask at the circulation desk or contact the librarians at if you have any questions. 

What is a microform or microfilm? and how can see them?

Microforms and microfilms are film reproductions of original media. Our collection includes reproductions of manuscripts, old periodicals, and more. You may use the music library's microform reader with an IU login (instructions included!) Microforms and microfilms are located on the employees-only ground floor of the library, and staff at the circulation desk can retrieve these items for you.

I'm looking for some sheet music...

You have come to the right spot! We have over 150,000 scores, and anyone can check out a score--not just music majors.

What's a monumental set, M2, M3, or collected edition? Why do these types of scores have a special checkout period? 

Monumental sets are multi-volume works by different composers linked by geographical region, time period, or genre (i.e. motets, Great Britain in a certain century, etc.) Monumental sets begin with the call number M2. For collected editions, a prolific or highly regarded composer might have their works collected by an editor or team of editors. These are often painstakingly put together with editorial markings, critical notes, and prefatory notes. These collected editions all start with the call number M3. The M2 and M3 scores are useful for their special editorial features, but individual volumes can be difficult to replace when they become lost or damaged. Therefore, these scores have a limited checkout period of 6 hours.

What's a miniature score?

Miniature scores are much smaller in size and lighter in weight, and they are excellent for score study. They are in their own (adorable) section of the second floor.

Do you offer audio/visual recordings and other media?

Yes, the music library offers thousands of audio-visual recording materials: LPs, CDs, DVDs, and even some reel-to-reel tapes, though not all can be checked out due to playback issues or donation stipulations. Most of our audio-visual materials can be checked out and used within the library for a period of 6 hours. The music library also provides access to subscription streaming audio and visual databases

If recordings can only be used in the library, how can I listen to them?

If your laptop does not have a disc drive, the circulation desk offers checkout access to portable drives for PCs and Macs. There is a LP/record player inside the music library; ask the circulation desk staff to show you where it is.

You can also make a request to take a recording out of the music library by speaking with any Public Services Supervisor at the Circulation desk of the Cook Music Library.

Can I still listen to the reel-to-reel tapes?

Unfortunately, we no longer have the equipment to play tapes. Yet, we do have the ability to digitize most recordings upon request.  Check IUCAT to see if the recording is available, or ask library staff. If you'd like to request a streaming copy of an IU performance or other music library recording, fill out the Music Library Recording Request Form. We do our best to fulfill digitization requests within two weeks. If you need a recording urgently, please email mistshaw @