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About Us

Located on the second and third floors of Lincoln Hall, the Sidney Cox Library of Music and Dance provides listening and viewing facilities, workstations, laptops, and wireless Internet access, as well as a variety of study spaces.

The Music Library was established in 1929 as a small, departmental collection, and was located in a house on Wait Avenue, along with the Music Department.  In 1957, Harold Samuel (1924-1999) was hired as Cornell’s first Music Librarian.  During his tenure, Lincoln Hall, originally built to house Civil Engineering and Architecture, was renovated, and in 1961 the departments of Music and Speech and Drama, as well as the Music Library, moved into Lincoln.  Sam, as he was known, was instrumental in developing the Music Library’s research collections; he left in 1971 for Yale, where he remained for the rest of his career.  Richard Hunter, later of the Library of Congress, followed Sam, and remained at Cornell until 1973.  He was followed by Michael Keller, now University Librarian and Director of Academic Information Resources at Stanford, who served as Music Librarian from 1973-1982.  Keller was followed by Lenore Coral (1939-2005), who served as Music Librarian from 1982-2005.  Bonna J. Boettcher served as Music Librarian from 2006-2014 before becoming the director of Cornell's Olin & Uris Libraries and the Library Annex.  Lenora Schneller became the Music Librarian in 2014.

As the music collections grew, space in Lincoln Hall became more crowded.  The stacks were closed, with materials paged by student assistants, and user seating was limited.  After a long fund-raising campaign, Lincoln Hall was renovated and expanded, reopening in Fall 2000.  The renovation increased Music Library space by some 70%, providing ample and much-needed study space, and allowing most of the collection to be housed in open stacks.  In honor of a major contribution to the renovation, the Music Library was named in honor of Sidney Cox (’47; MA’48; 1922-2005), a composer, collector, and long-time supporter of the Music Department.

The Music Library contains a collection of printed music, sound and visual recordings, and writings about music and dance. We also provide access to databases and electronic resources supporting music and dance research. The collection reflects the research and performance interests of the Music Department faculty and students.

Our principal strength lies in our broad and deep collection for the study of Western art music. This includes extensive holdings on early music performance practice, with a special focus on historical keyboard instruments. This collection encompasses literature on performance practice, numerous early-instrument recordings, microfilms, scholarly editions, rare source materials in the Rare Book Room (Music Locked Press) and scholarly facsimiles in the Music Special Collections. We have also developed substantial holdings in American musical theater and opera. In addition, we collect heavily in twentieth and twenty-first century music of Europe and the United States, including electronic music, and music by Cornell composition alumnae.

We hold substantial collections of world music, with strengths in Indonesian music, African field recordings, Brazilian popular and folk music, and Middle Eastern music. We have substantial holdings in blues, rhythm & blues, boogie-woogie, jazz, and rock, supporting undergraduate teaching in these areas. In addition, we hold extensive runs of Folkways and Smithsonian Folkways recordings.

We strive to be responsive to the needs of the research and teaching conducted by Music Department faculty and graduate students, and by faculty outside the Music Department who need to draw on music resources. For questions relating to music library holdings, please contact Lenora Schneller.