The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 36.0°F | A Few Clouds

Renovated Music Library To Expand Collection, Service

By Kai-yuh Hsiao
staff reporter

The Music Library is scheduled to hold a larger collection, serve more people, and provide more functions than ever before despite the temporary inconvenience from its current construction.

People interested in browsing the music library right now do not have a whole lot to see. The temporary library, which opened on Wednesday, consists of a table or two in the Hayden Memorial Library's map room. It provides users with access to less than a fraction of the holdings that the Music Library is known for.

The library, under construction since the end of last term, is due to open officially at the end of this month.

The new library will to be named the Rosalind Denny Lewis Music Library, the mother-in-law of one of the main contributors to the renovation of the library, Cherry Emerson '41.

New features allow for expansion

One of the most notable changes to the structure of the library is a second-floor mezzanine which will hold 22 reconfigurable listening carrels for student use, a listening lounge, a group listening room, and a conference room.

Other new features elsewhere in the library include a photocopy machine, an electric keyboard for playing music scores, and a special collections room for rare items.

Furthermore, the library will feature compact shelving, shelves on wheels in which aisles can be opened up as needed. This new shelving will be used both in the private collection behind the circulation desk and in the public areas.

The compact shelving system will provide growth space for at least the next 20 years in some areas, said Peter Munstedt, the music librarian.

There will be enough space to hold about 28,000 compact discs; currently the library only has 4,500.

Also, many archived journals currently kept in storage will be moved into the library, a convenience for users that the old library was unable to provide. New journals will be put on display in the new journal reading area.

Design features music motif

The new library actually represents one of the largest projects done so far by Physical Plant's in-house architectural staff.

The overall architectural design of the new library will include a music motif, said the chief architect of the project Melanie Brothers.

The mezzanine has been designed in the shape of a curve that resembles a treble clef, and wooden supports throughout the library are in the shape of instrumental bows. Glass panes all around the library will be decorated with sandblasted musical staff lines.

Brothers has also been involved in the design of a number of conference rooms around campus, as well as the lobby of the Medical Center, which is currently under construction.

Many of the visual touches that have been put into the library have also been partly the work of artist John Powell.

One of the most notable of these is the complete inscription of a piece of music into the glass railing on the mezzanine. The music is written exclusively for the new library by Institute Professor of Music John H. Harbison.

Renovations were long-awaited

The old music library was actually constructed as a music lounge in 1948. Before this summer, it had seen very little change over the years aside from its gradual conversion into a library, which was not its original intended purpose.

Munstedt, who arrived at his current position of librarian in October of 1992, started pushing for renovations almost immediately.

"When I came here, that was the first thing I wanted to do," Munstedt said.

Fundraising for the renovations was organized by Ellen Harris, then the associate provost for the arts. Most notably, she enlisted the support of Emerson.

Alan Brody continued fundraising efforts as the new associate provost. Planning and design of the library began last September, and construction began immediately after the end of spring term last year.

Director of Libraries Ann J. Wolpert said that the new library represents the "dynamite renovation of one of the premier music libraries in New England."

Copyright 19,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was published on 9/6/96.
Volume 116, Number 39.
This story appeared on page 10.

This article may be freely distributed electronically, provided it is distributed in its entirety and includes this notice, but may not be reprinted without the express written permission of The Tech. Write to for additional details.