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What about a Toronto music library?

Posted by Derek Flack / June 23, 2014

Toronto music libraryAmongst its literary holdings, the Toronto Public Library houses a massive number of audio recordings and written sheet music. Spread across the city's many libraries, the TPL's music collection doesn't often get the love or attention it deserves, but that could be set to change thanks to a motion to create a dedicated space to showcase the library's key holdings. A Toronto music library could take shape as a complete repurposing of one the library's existing 99 branches or as a dedicated space in a branch that will otherwise function as normal.

It's an exciting idea, but library staff don't appear to be on board, citing the costs affiliated with the creation of a dedicated space. Although Michael Foderick, chair of the Toronto Public Library Board and the person behind the motion to have staff explore the notion of Toronto music library, told the Star that "we can safely say we're going to move forward with this idea in one form or another," library staff favour a more promotional approach, one which highlights the TPL's musical holdings and online streaming options.

It's an intriguing debate to have, particularly given the degree to which so many personal music collections have been digitized and migrated to the cloud. Staff would like to see the library's efforts directed toward the creation of a "virtual music library" in favour of a bricks and mortar space. That certainly sounds smart, but one wonders if the two ideas are mutually exclusive. A dedicated space for the TPL's music holdings, even if it's just housed within a portion of an existing branch, could pair very well with efforts to highlight the the library's digital offerings.

What do you think? Is a Toronto music library a good idea?



Aaron / June 23, 2014 at 09:21 am
Great idea!
777 / June 23, 2014 at 09:30 am
Umm, we already have one. Its called the Internet.
mike in parkdale / June 23, 2014 at 09:36 am
There's already a Museum of Canadian Music - maybe have a Toronto wing? Or just integrate the Toronto music into the larger collection, as Canada and Toronto overlapped all their musical history.

Have that whole collection go online and let the physical media live in the Museum vaults.
Joe Q. / June 23, 2014 at 09:41 am
Interesting idea, but what form would this music library take? Would it be a circulating library (unlikely) or more like a reference library, where patrons sit and listen to recordings?
Poopdawg / June 23, 2014 at 09:56 am
Those are three damn fine records featured in that photo.
r / June 23, 2014 at 11:31 am
people would not return the music
Brendan / June 23, 2014 at 12:23 pm
The Library already has music that they circulate. I can't speak to whether people have a habit of not return the CDs, as suggested by "r", but I would imagine that borrowers are no more likely to steal a CD than a book. The library does know where to find you.

I think the library should consider digitizing special collections of music, recordings not readily at hand via other services.

The library, truthfully, doesn't need to stream or circulate popular and widely available music because there are a number of other avenues that provide this service, although some of those methods may be less than legal.

What about collaborations with long-standing local radio stations and concert venues - CBC, Jazz FM, CIUT, CHFI, CHUM, Massey Hall, Roy Thompson Hall - to make available previously unavailable special recordings from their archives?
Moaz Ahmad / June 23, 2014 at 01:10 pm
Would be interesting if they had built a Music Library on the old Sam the Record Man Location...since it was a de facto library of music anyway.
Al Hunter / June 23, 2014 at 01:57 pm
Back in the 60's I used to go to a Toronto Public Music Library. It was, I believe, near Avenue Rd & Eglinton.
Al Hunter / June 23, 2014 at 02:00 pm
And that original library was not really for passively listening to music, it was focused on sheet music, composition, and a more academic approach to music.
c / June 23, 2014 at 10:10 pm
the city needs an urban affairs library, not a music library.
HK / June 24, 2014 at 09:20 am
Sure, why not? There are some folks who want to listen to songs that are otherwise incredibly hard to find it's not even on YouTube.
dannymalt / June 24, 2014 at 10:10 am
Sounds cool in theory. But a waste of resources because there are already a million ways to listen to music of all kinds on the internet for free, no sense trying to compete.
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