Pitt Gets Grant to Develop Music Archiving Tool

Issue Date: 
November 17, 2008

The University of Pittsburgh Center for American Music has received a national leadership grant to develop an electronic reference tool that will serve as a gateway for the exploration of music in American history. Such a tool would provide access to music scores, papers, sound recordings, and other American music-related materials in archives around the globe.

The 2008 National Leadership Grant of $39,826 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will fund a two-day planning conference to be held at Pitt in May 2009. Specialists in information technology, music, and cataloging will convene to discuss a new, comprehensive reference tool for the history of American music.

Rush Miller, Hillman University Librarian and director of the University Library System (ULS), says the goal of the conference is to develop a tool that will allow the public to quickly identify and access archival papers, musical scores, and other resources that may be difficult to find because they are scattered throughout various collections.

“Much of next year’s conference will be devoted to discussing the experts’ recommendations and working out the big problems for creating a topical database, for which there’s no electronic model,” said Deane Root, project director, professor of music, and director of the Center for American Music.

“We hope to determine whether this will be more like an index to American music resources or a vast virtual library of all those resources; it may in the end be a combination of the two. Once it’s up and running, students, musicians, scholars, and anyone else will be able to search for information—archival papers, recordings, artifacts, or whole museums—about individual musicians, companies, ensembles, types of organizations, or cities . . . all the sorts of topics that music historians write about,” Root said.

The project is a joint venture between the ULS-based Center for American Music and the Society for American Music, whose international headquarters are at Pitt. The new resource tool was identified by IMLS as “one that will serve as a model to libraries across the nation.”