New iteration: Music Reference Skills for Every Librarian eCourse

For Immediate Release
Thu, 12/06/2018


Colton Ursiny

Administrative Assistant

ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions

Chicago—ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions announces a new iteration of our popular eCourse in collaboration with the Music Library Association, Music Reference Skills for Every Librarian. Sara J. Beutter Manus will serve as the instructor for a 4-week facilitated eCourse starting on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.

If you’re working the reference desk, you are likely to encounter questions about music, and whether you need to find music, scores, or books about music, you need to be prepared.

In this eCourse, ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions and the Music Library Association introduce you to the fundamentals of music reference. This 4-week eCourse provides you with tools and techniques to help locate recordings and printed music as well as other sources for general information about music and musicians in various genres. You’ll learn about some of the most common problems encountered in music reference and how to solve them. The course also shares tips and strategies that can help you answer nearly any music reference question—from broad queries to more specific, concrete inquiries—so that you can best meet your patrons’ information needs.

eCourse outline

Week 1 – Introduction to Music Reference

  • Identify the most common formats for music materials
    • Audiovisual materials
    • Printed music (scores)
  • The music reference interview
    • The main question and secondary question(s)
    • Meeting the user’s specific music information need

Week 2 – Finding Classical Music in Library Catalogs

  • Using preferred titles (uniform titles) to locate musical works that lack unique titles
  • Limiting searches by format
  • Locating a smaller work within the whole

Week 3 – Global and Popular Music

  • Strategies for locating global and popular music in library catalogs
  • The strengths and weaknesses of LC Subject Headings
  • The importance of sound recordings for global music, jazz, blues, etc.
  • Print and online reference sources (free and subscription-based) for global and popular music (encyclopedias, dictionaries, discographies, bibliographies, etc.)

Week 4 – Reference Sources for Classical Music

  • Music encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • Discographies, bibliographies, and guides to research
  • General databases with music content
  • Free online resources

About the Instructor

Sara J. Beutter Manus is the Music Librarian for Education and Outreach at the Anne Potter Wilson Music Library at Vanderbilt University, where she has been employed since 2005. She earned a M.A. in musicology and a M.L.S. at Indiana University, specializing in music librarianship. Sara coordinates reference services for the Wilson Music Library and implemented a required music information literacy program for all undergraduates in the Blair School of Music in the fall of 2007. She is an active member of the Southeast Music Library Association and the Music Library Association and has taught this course as a music reference workshop multiple times. Her publications include “Librarian in the Classroom: An Embedded Approach to Music Information Literacy for Undergraduate Music Students” (published in Notes 66, no. 2, December 2009: 249-61) and a chapter in Ideas, Strategies, and Scenarios in Music Information Literacy, “Embedding the Framework: Using Embedded Librarian Techniques to Facilitate Music Information Literacy” (edited by Kathleen A. Abromeit, published by A-R Editions, 2018).

Founded in 1931, Music Library Association (MLA) is the professional organization in the United States devoted to music librarianship and all aspects of music materials in libraries. MLA provides a professional forum for librarians, archivists, and others who support and preserve the world's musical heritage.

Registration for this ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions facilitated eCourse, which begins on February 4, 2019, can be purchased at the ALA Store. Participants in this course will need regular access to a computer with an internet connection for online message board participation, viewing online video, listening to streaming audio (MP3 files), and downloading and viewing PDF and PowerPoint files.

ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions (ELS) produces high-quality professional development events and materials for the library profession. ELS events cover modern issues on a wide variety of topics in formats that include live workshops, asynchronous eCourses, and print publications. We help ensure that today’s library employees have access to the professional development opportunities they need, whether they are brushing up on the basics or expanding their horizons with cutting-edge tools. Contact us at

ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness, and accreditation programs for library professionals worldwide.