In addition to my own music teacher library (texts, octavos, sight-reading, composer biographies, instrumental method books, theory, etc.), I inherited an enormous library (thousands of pieces from a 60-year career) from my aunt, an opera singer and recitalist. I'm trying to organize all this stuff and don't know the best way - I have major works/librettos/cantatas alpha by composer, but what about collections ("The Prima Donna Album", for instance) and individual pieces? I am fortunate that my aunt made separate binders for songs from Latin American countries!

Any thoughts on how to sort? Period? Instrument? Language? Genre? Am I going to have to make a database of every song? I appreciate any and all input! Thanks!


Well, I'd look at what a public library would do. In my [misspent] youth, the card catalog would include, for example, a card listed under composer's name referring to one of those omnibus volumes that contains several composers' works.
If possible, I'd recommend you start by building a simple database containing the name of a particular document, the publisher, the publisher's serial or identification number. Then start adding things like multiple composer names as needed, genre, period, instrumentation, etc. Pretty soon you'll be putting the whole thing into MySQL.

My recommendation would be to store the physical media organized by parameters guaranteed to be unique to each item. Publisher and publisher's serial number would be a good choice. This makes it relatively easy to find something (once your database is built up). On the other hand, if you prefer to enjoy browsing by genre or some other parameter then organize your bookshelves that way, but be prepared to spend a lot more time tracking down a selected piece.

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  • Yes, there's a reason why libraries work the way they do. I have a close friend who is a professor with a large number of scholarly texts in his personal library. He has actually affixed specific index labels to each text and created a database on his computer to search, and the physical texts are arranged on the shelves (or should I say "stacks"?) by the index number. – Todd Wilcox Oct 1 '18 at 13:46

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