Did you know? The Faculty of Music has only had three Head Librarians ever: Jean Lavender, Kathleen McMorrow, and Jan Guise #tbt

The U of T is reaching the end of term and if music students are not rehearsing in practice rooms (or if they are lucky and are finished!), they are likely to be found in the music library.

Jean Lavender

The first librarian was Jean Lavender (1918-2005), who held the position from 1947-1973. After receiving her Bachelor of Library Science degree from U of T in 1940 and working at the Royal Conservatory of Music Library, Ms Lavender oversaw major growth following the appointment of Harvey Olnick in 1954 which established the first musicology program at a Canadian university. She also oversaw the expansion of the library on the 3rd floor of the Edward Johnson Building after it opened in 1963.

Kathleen McMorrow at her retirement party, April 25 2013

Kathleen McMorrow headed the Music Library from 1974 to 2013, with particular responsibilities for building the recordings collections and special collections. During her tenure, the Library holdings increased from about 100,000 to nearly 500,000, and were moved into a purpose-built wing of the Edward Johnson Building.

Kathleen oversaw the library’s transition from card catalogues to computers. UofT Music library was the first major library to do this. Here’s an article she wrote in the mid-70s about it.

Suzanne Meyers Sawa was Interim Head Librarian for several years until Jan Guise joined the Faculty where she previously had been Head Librarian for the music library at the University of Manitoba, 2007-2017.

Jan Guise in Music Library Stacks

Today our Music Library has over 300,000 books, scores, periodicals and microforms. The Sniderman Recordings Collection has 180,000 sound recordings, from cylinders to blu-ray.

From the late 1990s, the Edward Johnson Building with music library (located under angled windows, centre-right in photo)
From December 2018, the Edward Johnson Building with music library

The Olnick Rare Book Room has 2,500 volumes exemplifying the history of music and of music editing, performance and printing — from liturgical manuscripts and early printed treatises, to first editions of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Gershwin, and early Canadian sheet music and tune books. A significant number of 18th- and 19th-century opera full scores, with particular strength in the French repertoire, complements the large libretto holdings of the Central Library.

Our Archival Collections documents the creative activity of composers and performers associated with the University and the city. The collections include manuscripts, correspondence, programs, photographs and recordings of artists such as John Beckwith, Talivaldis Kenins, Udo Kasemets, the Hart House String Quartet and Kathleen Parlow.

With thanks to Canadian Encyclopedia for details on early history of music libraries in Canada.