Music Reference Skills for Every Librarian eCourse

You must complete your registration in advance of the eCourse by following the instructions contained in the PDF download that accompanies your purchase. The download can be found on the final confirmation screen after you complete your purchase and may also be accessed from your account. Select "My Account" and then select the "Files" tab to see all of your digital downloads.

ALA Member: 
$ 225.00
Item Number:
From:  April 16, 2018
To:  May 13, 2018
Delivery Method: 
Attendance Cert.
4 weeks
Estimated Hours of Learning: 
24 Hours
ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions
  • Description
  • Learning Outcomes
  • Registration
  • eCourse Outline
  • About the Instructor
  • Contact Us

If you’re working the reference desk, you are likely to encounter questions about music, and whether you need to find music, scores, or books about music, you need to be prepared.

In this new eCourse, ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions and the Music Library Association introduce you to the fundamentals of music reference. This 4-week eCourse provides you with tools and techniques to help locate recordings and printed music as well as other sources for general information about music and musicians in various genres. You’ll learn about some of the most common problems encountered in music reference and how to solve them. The course also shares tips and strategies that can help you answer nearly any music reference question—from broad queries to more specific, concrete inquiries—so that you can best meet your patrons’ information needs.

After participating in this course, you will be able to

  • Identify the most common formats for music materials
  • Know which questions to ask in a music reference interview
  • Recognize the difficulties in finding Western classical music (instrumental and vocal), popular songs, and global music, and how to overcome them
  • Better assist patrons with their music reference needs
  • Direct patrons to basic music reference materials and online resources (paid and free)

Upon purchase you will receive a registration PDF in the form of a digital download. This PDF contains a link to our Registration page and a password. You must download this PDF and follow the instructions in order to complete the registration. The download link can be found on the final confirmation screen after you complete your purchase, and may also be accessed by selecting "My Account" at the top of your screen and then selecting the "Files" tab. Confirmation with login instructions, reminders, and alerts will go to the email address used in the registration.

How this eCourse Works
The eCourse begins on April 16, 2018. Your participation will require approximately four to five hours a week, at times that fit your schedule. There are no live sessions. All activities take place on the website, and you will be expected to

  • Read, listen to or view online content
  • Post to online discussion boards
  • Complete weekly assignments or activities

Instructor Sara J. Beutter Manus will monitor discussion boards regularly during the 4-week period, lead group discussions, and will also answer individual questions. All interaction will take place on the eCourse site, which will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's recommended that students log into the site on the first day of class or within a few days for an overview of the content and to begin the first lesson.

User Requirements

Participants will need regular access to a computer with an internet connection for online message boards participation, viewing online video, listening to streaming audio (mp3 files), and downloading and viewing PDFs and PowerPoint files. ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions eCourses are fully compatible with Windows and MacOs.

Bulk Orders

This eCourse is licensed for a single user. For pricing on bulk purchases in excess of $1,000, please contact us for more information.

Week 1 – Introduction to Music Reference

  • Identify the most common formats for music materials
    • Audiovisual materials
    • Printed music (scores)
  • The music reference interview
    • The main question and secondary question(s)
    • Meeting the user’s specific music information need

Week 2 – Finding Classical Music in Library Catalogs

  • Using preferred titles (uniform titles) to locate musical works that lack unique titles
  • Limiting searches by format
  • Locating a smaller work within the whole

Week 3 – Global and Popular Music

  • Strategies for locating global and popular music in library catalogs
  • The strengths and weaknesses of LC Subject Headings
  • The importance of sound recordings for global music, jazz, blues, etc.
  • Print and online reference sources (free and subscription-based) for global and popular music (encyclopedias, dictionaries, discographies, bibliographies, etc.)

Week 4 – Reference Sources for Classical Music

  • Music encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • Discographies, bibliographies, and guides to research
  • General databases with music content
  • Free online resources

Sara J. Beutter Manus

Sara J. Beutter Manus is the Music Librarian for Education and Outreach at the Anne Potter Wilson Music Library at Vanderbilt University, where she has been employed since 2005. She earned a M.A. in musicology and a M.L.S. at Indiana University, specializing in music librarianship. Sara coordinates reference services for the Wilson Music Library and implemented a required music information literacy program for all undergraduates in the Blair School of Music in the fall of 2007. She is an active member of the Southeast Music Library Association and the Music Library Association and has taught this course as a music reference workshop multiple times. Her publications include “Librarian in the Classroom: An Embedded Approach to Music Information Literacy for Undergraduate Music Students” (published in Notes 66, no. 2, December 2009: 249-61) and a chapter in Ideas, Strategies, and Scenarios in Music Information Literacy, “Embedding the Framework: Using Embedded Librarian Techniques to Facilitate Music Information Literacy” (edited by Kathleen A. Abromeit, published by A-R Editions, 2018).

Music Library Association (MLA)

Founded in 1931, Music Library Association (MLA) is the professional organization in the United States devoted to music librarianship and all aspects of music materials in libraries. MLA provides a professional forum for librarians, archivists, and others who support and preserve the world's musical heritage.

If you have any questions about this eCourse, please contact us at

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