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'We are open to everybody': A look inside the UNC Music Library

Librarian Margaret Neville and senior global studies major Mallory Sokolove assist senior computer science major Nicholas Nguyen in the music library on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022.

Located on the first floor of Wilson Library, the UNC Music Library is home to collections of easy-access music recordings, vinyl records and a variety of study spaces — all open to the University community.

“The collection itself and the services and spaces that we provide are all here to support the teaching, research and personal discovery of literally anybody that walks through the door,” Music Librarian Diane Steinhaus said.

The Music Library offers many amenities for community use, including music playback equipment, keyboards, scores, sound recordings, turntables and study rooms, Steinhaus said. It is one of several specialized libraries on campus.

Steinhaus said a variety of study spaces are available for students to use, such as individual carrels or group collaborative rooms.

“The nice thing about this library as opposed to other libraries on campus is you don’t feel closed in or crowded, you can always find a space to study,” Music Library Manager Margaret Neville said.

Many people enjoy the quiet environment, Neville said, and the library offers a place for students and faculty to relax.

All UNC students, faculty and staff, as well as any North Carolina resident with a UNC Borrower's Card, can access the Music Library.

One of the library's most popular features is its vinyl collection and turntables, Steinhaus said.

The library hosts over 23,000 vinyl records, which patrons can check out online to play at home or listen to on the turntables at the Music Library. The vinyl collection includes work by various artists, from Johnny Cash to J. Cole.

Senior Mallory Sokolove also spoke about the popularity of the turntables. As a student assistant at the UNC Music Library, Sokolove is often the first face visitors see to ask questions or for help with navigating its online catalog, she said.

“We get a lot of people using the turntables,” Sokolove said. “We’re a place to just chill and listen to music while you study."

The library offers access to a variety of equipment in addition to the turntables, including computers, Blu-ray players, CD players, flatbed scanners and viewing rooms and stations.

The Music Library is one of the leading academic music libraries because of how robust its collection is, Steinhaus said.

She said that due to the large collection, the library receives many requests to lend out material to other libraries and universities. And some of the library's collections are rare.

“Those are probably the early, early 16th century, musical treatises and other early prints and manuscripts of music that are very valuable,” she said.

In February, the library displayed a facsimile of the "Chansonnier Cordiforme Paris" manuscript. The original heart-shaped manuscript was commissioned in the late 15th century and contains 43 songs in French and Italian.

This library also contains technique books that patrons can use to learn how to play musical instruments. Thousands of streaming audio files, which can be played anywhere, are available on the library's website, Steinhaus said.

The website features a “UNC School Songs” tab, which provides access to the sheet music, recordings and lyrics of UNC-specific songs, such as “Hark the Sound” and “Here Comes Carolina.”

The library’s collection has something for everyone, with representation from genres including jazz, classical, folk, opera, pop and rock.

Neville described the environment in the Music Library as friendly and welcoming.

“There are a lot of spaces to just decompress," she said. "And it’s a really safe space." 

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Steinhaus said she wants community members to know that the library and its resources are there for them.

“We are open to everybody," she said. "We welcome anybody to come and use our space, collections and services however they want to."