Showing off the Music Division

Towards the end of my internship I was able to help co-present the Music Division of the Library of Congress with one of the librarians to about 50 interns.This relatively informal presentation covered the Music Division’s history, collections, and digital projects.

One of the best stories about the start of the Music Division is a quote from the first Music Division Chief, Oscar Sonneck, in which he describes how the collection’s growth through copyright deposit brings in “the trash as well as the treasure.” A hundred years ago, the treasures included the great symphonic and operatic works of the period, and the trash Sonneck referred to was the popular sheet music. In current times, however, it is the popular sheet music from the early 20th century that is one of the Music Division’s most valuable collection. Some of those scores have been digitized so that anyone can browse the songs about World War I, baseball, and the suffragist movement to get a unique perspective on life and culture from those eras.

My role in this presentation was to explain the copyright deposit process, which I have done in earlier blog posts on this blog. It is thanks to the materials which have been submitted to the National Copyright Office throughout the years that the Library of Congress has the amazing collections that it does (including the unpublished Disney music!).

This was a great opportunity to both practice my presenting skills and work alongside a music librarian, which will in turn strengthen my development in collaborations and instructional work.