Locating the Local: A Literature Review and Analysis of Local Music Collections

by Veronica Kmiech, BMUHON, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan

This work is part of a larger research project titled “Local Music Collections” led by Music Librarian Carolyn Doi and funded by the University of Saskatchewan President’s SSHRC research fund. A post from Carolyn’s perspective on managing this project will be published in 2017 on the C-EBLIP Blog.


Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.
Albert Szent-Gyorgy1

At this point in my university career, I have written several research papers, most of which were for the musicology courses I took as part of my music degree. This research gave me familiarity with the library catalogue, online databases for musicological articles, interlibrary loan, and contacting European collections to request material (this last one involved an interesting 4 a.m. phone call). As a Research Assistant, my background was helpful, but I found the depth of searching needed for the literature review much greater than anything I had done before.

My role as a research assistant for music librarian Carolyn Doi involved searching for sources, screening those sources based on their relevance to the project, and using NVivo software to identify themes in the literature.


The aim in doing the Literature Review was to find sources that discuss local music collections, especially those found in libraries. With these results, a survey to accumulate information on current practices for managing local music collections is under development.

It was important to find as many sources as possible, across a wide geographic area and collection types, although the majority came from North America. Reading sources from all over the world that talk about collections in a range of settings (e.g. libraries, churches, privately built, etc.) increased my understanding of the contexts that exist for local music collections.

One of the most important parts of the Literature Review was to find as many items relating to local music collections as possible, or in other words – FIND ALL THE SOURCES!
There were thirteen sources that became a jumping-off point, providing guidelines for how to focus the literature review. From here, I searched for literature in a variety of locations including USearch, Google Scholar, Library and Information Studies (LIS) databases, music databases, education databases, newspaper databases, humanities databases, and a database for dissertations and theses.

As a music student, I was familiar with the library catalogue and databases such as JSTOR. However, I was not familiar with the LIS or the Education databases. There were a variety of articles from journals, books, and newspapers that described different types and aspects of local music collections. One point of interest was the range of collection types, which appear in academic libraries and public libraries, to private and government archives. Most of the sources were case studies, which discussed the challenges and successes of a particular collection.

Other sources of information were print works from the University of Saskatchewan Library and Interlibrary Loan, conference abstracts and listserv conversations from the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML), the Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (CAML), and the Music Library Association (MLA).

After completing the search, 408 unique results were saved. Although many of the same sources appeared in different search locations, Figure 1 shows where documents were first located.

The majority of the sources came from North America and Europe. It is worth noting that this may be a result of the databases searched, rather than an indication of absence of local music collections and the study of such in other parts of the globe.

Figure 1: Pie chart showing all 408 saved documents based on search location
Figure 1: Pie chart showing all 408 saved documents based on search location.3

Challenges & Limitations

The common challenge, regardless of the database being searched, was finding effective search terms for finding relevant sources. It was important when searching in places like Google Scholar, JSTOR, and USearch to narrow the parameters considerably; otherwise one would obtain thousands of hits. Full-text searches, for example, were not helpful.
Comparatively, some of the LIS databases and ERIC, an education database, required only a keyword or two to find all of the information relative to local music collections that they contained.


Figure 2Figure 2: Geographical distribution of sources in the literature review.5

I saved 408 sources to Mendeley. These consisted primarily of journal articles describing case studies from a variety of international locations. Three hundred and sixty of the sources came from North America and Europe, with the complete breakdown by continent shown in Figure 2. Since we were more interested in research from North America, it is worth noting that 123 of the 201 North American sources are from the United States, 73 are Canadian, and 5 are from other countries such as Jamaica.

After screening, 59 documents were selected for NVivo content analysis. Documents were included if they spoke directly to the management of local music collections in public institutions. Documents were excluded if they were less relevant to the research topic (for instance, they may describe private collections), or they may be items that provide useful context (for example, this may be a resource on developing sound collections in a library).


For me, completing this literature review was a little bit like a treasure hunt – what could I do to find more information? Where else can I look? This process took me to locations for research that I did not even know existed, like the IAML listserv. And, after accidentally emailing every music librarian on the planet while trying to figure out how to work the thing, I was able to add a new researching tool to my repertoire.

In conclusion, the literature review served as a means for finding sources to analyze. However, it provided more than just a list of articles. The completion of the literature review, although global in scope, created a picture centered on North America, which has been an enormous help in understanding the topic of research. Through this search for documents, it has also been possible to see how it would be best to approach the analysis, based on the what work has already been accomplished and what work still needs to be done in this field.

1Szent-Gyorgyi, Albert. BrainyQuote. “Albert Szent-Gyorgyi Quotes.” Accessed July 22, 2016. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/albert_szentgyorgyi.html
2Imgflip. “Meme Generator.” Accessed May 30, 2016. https://imgflip.com/memegenerator
3Meta-chart. “Create a Pie Chart.” Accessed September 17, 2016. https://www.meta-chart.com/pie
4“Meme Generator.”
5“Create a Pie Chart.”

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Changing roles and changing needs for academic librarians

by Dr Danny Kingsley, Head of Scholarly Communication, University of Cambridge
Claire Sewell, Research Skills Coordinator, Office of Scholarly Communication, University of Cambridge

The Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) has joined the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Research Network, and as part of this commitment has prepared the following blog which is a literature review of papers published addressing the changing training needs for academic librarians. This work feeds into research currently being carried out by the OSC into the educational background of those working in scholarly communication. The piece concludes with a discussion of this research and potential next steps.

Changing roles

There is no doubt that libraries are experiencing another dramatic change as a result of developments in digital technologies. Twenty years ago in their paper addressing the education of library and information science professionals, Van House and Sutton note that “libraries are only one part of the information industry and for many segments of the society they are not the most important part”.

There is an argument that “as user habits take a digital turn, the library as place and public services in the form of reference, collection development and organisation of library resources for use, all have diminishing value to researchers”. Librarians need to adapt and move beyond these roles to one where they play a greater part in the research process.

To this end scholarly communication is becoming an increasingly established area in many academic libraries. New roles are being created and advertised in order to better support researchers as they face increasing pressure to share their work. Indeed a 2012 analysis into new activities and changing roles for health science librarians identified ‘Scholarly communications librarians’ as a new role for health sciences librarians based on job announcements whilst in their 2015 paper on scholarly communication coaching Todd, Brantley and Duffin argue that: “To successfully address the current needs of a forward-thinking faculty, the academic library needs to place scholarly communication competencies in the toolkit of every librarian who has a role interacting with subject faculty.”

Which skill sets are needed

Much of the literature is in agreement about the specific skill set librarians need to work in scholarly communication. “Reskilling for Research” identified nine areas of skill which would have increasing importance including knowledge about data management and curation. Familiarity with data is an area mentioned repeatedly and acknowledged as something librarians will be familiar with. Mary Anne Kennan describes the concept as “the librarian with more” – traditional library skills with added knowledge of working with and manipulating data.

Many studies reported that generic skills were just as much, if not more so, in demand than discipline specific skills. A thorough knowledge of advocacy and outreach techniques is needed to spread the scholarly communication message to both library staff and researchers. Raju highlighted presentation skills for similar reasons in his 2014 paper.

The report “University Publishing in a Digital Age” further identified a need for library staff to better understand the publishing process and this is something that we have argued at the Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) in the past.

There is also a need to be cautious when demanding new skills. Bresnahan and Johnson (article pay-walled) caution against trying to become the mythical “unicorn librarian” – an individual who possesses every skill an employer could ever wish for. This is not realistic and is ultimately doomed to fail.

In their 2013 paper Jaguszewski and Williams instead advocate a team approach with members drawn from different backgrounds and able to bring a range of different skills to their roles. This was also the argument put forward by Dr Sarah Pittaway at the recent UKSG Forum where her paper addressed the issue of current library qualifications and their narrow focus.

Training deficit

Existing library roles are being adapted to include explicit mention of areas such as Open Access whilst other roles are being created from scratch. This work provides a good fit for library staff but it can be challenging to develop the skills needed. As far back as 2008 it was noted that the curricula of most library schools only covered the basics of digital library management and little seems to have changed since with Van House and Sutton identifying barriers to “the ability of LIS educational programs to respond” to changing needs such as the need to produce well-rounded professionals.

Most people working in this area learn their skills on the job, often from more experienced colleagues. Kennan’s study notes that formal education could help to fill the knowledge gap whilst others look to more hands-on training as this helps to embed knowledge.

The question then becomes should the profession as a whole be doing more to prepare their new recruits for the career path of the 21st century academic librarian? This is something we have been asking ourselves in the OSC at Cambridge. Since the OSC was established at the start of 2015 it has made a concerted effort to educate staff at the one hundred plus libraries in Cambridge through both formal training programmes and targeted advocacy. However we are aware that there is still more to be done. We have begun by distributing a survey to investigate the educational background of those who work in scholarly communications. The survey was popular with over five hundred responses and many offers of follow up interviews which means that we have found an area of interest amongst the profession. We will be analysing the results of the survey in the New Year with a view to sharing them more widely and further participating in the scholarly communication process ourselves.


Wherever the skills gaps are there is no doubt that the training needs of academic librarians are changing. The OSC survey will provide insight into whether these needs are currently being met and give evidence for future developments but there is still work to be done. Hopefully this project will be the start of changes to the way academic library staff are trained which will benefit the future of the profession as a whole.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

This article was originally posted on Unlocking Research, the blog of the University of Cambridge Office of Scholarly Communication on November 29, 2016.