I visited two of them recently, and what different stories they had – but both worth you taking note of as they can be useful for your group, wherever you are in the UK.
The Community and Youth Music Library (CYML), now an independent charity based in Hornsey Library in North London, originated over a hundred years ago in a collection held first by the London County Council and then by the Inner London Education Authority.
After the demise of the ILEA, the collection went to the Centre for Young Musicians (CYM), and was subsequently housed by Trinity College from 1995-2010, retaining its ‘CYM’ name. The indefatigable Tony Lynes, a volunteer responsible for so much music activity in London over the years, helped set it up as a charity and find the space in Hornsey as well as some funds to keep it going for a bit – albeit on a shoestring.
This is an inspiring, classic, ‘community effort’ story, where the commitment from a few stubborn volunteers has rescued for the greater good something which would otherwise undoubtedly got dispersed, lost, sold off or thrown into skips.
CYML hires to anyone in the UK directly, charging very moderately. It has one part-time staff member and a number of volunteers.
You can also support CYML by donating scores, fundraising or volunteering for them to help secure the future of this valuable resource for you and your fellow groups.
My second visit was also in London, but it, too, is a national resource: Westminster Music Library originates in the collection left by music critic Edwin Evans in 1946. It is housed and part-financed by Westminster Council, so there is a constant threat to it, as with many local authority music libraries.
You can join wherever you are located in the UK, and in addition to a large range of vocal and orchestral sets (searchable online) which you can hire directly, you also gain access to useful online resources.
These include their song index, music periodicals, access to the Naxos Music Library, and other resources the library subscribes to, including the Classical Scores Library which features out of copyright material you can download, and Oxford Music Online of which Grove Music Online and the Oxford Dictionary of Music are a part.
In addition, Westminster Music Library has been raising its profile and showcasing some of its materials with an innovative and now packed programme of performances, events and projects. If your group would like to perform there, do contact them.
Where else can you find music?
Making Music’s Music Exchange (part of our online Music Bank) of course – please see the updated guidance on lending and permissible charges. Also keep an eye out for the updated information sheets on Librarians' notes and lending and permission charges which will be coming out soon to provide you with lots of useful pointers and links.