It is generally acknowledged that the vast and comprehensive collections of the Library of Congress are unparalleled. I have done extensive research at the Music Division on three separate books: (“Show Tunes,” “Kern, Berlin, Rodgers, Hart, and Hammerstein: A Complete Song Catalogue,” and, over the past seven years, “The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations.”
I can attest that the manuscripts and other original materials in the collection are of the utmost importance in my field and that the facilities at the Music Division are far more well-equipped and user-friendly than those at other research and university libraries where I have worked.
There are comfortable, roomy and well-lit work tables, as well as separate rooms with pianos, where scores can be studied and played. Let me point out that this is specifically not the case at other places I have worked.
The Music Division staff is admirable and the division has a number of senior librarians who are not only dedicated and helpful, but also remarkably knowledgeable about the collections. While I have found first-rate librarians elsewhere, rarely do they have the expertise to offer anything more than general guidance to the rare and obscure material.
The Music Division’s senior librarians are specialists and scholars in their own right and they helped me to explore parts of the collection that I would not have located via catalogs. I would like to think that I have made important discoveries and observations in my books, but many of these observations began by stumbling over a long-forgotten and obscure document in the Library’s collection.