About the Conservatory Library

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Enter the Conservatory Library from the first floor of the Conservatory's Central building.

Floorplan of the Conservatory Library

Listening & Study Spaces

In addition to the research room/workstation area the Con library offers the following spaces for those using the collections:

  • 12 networked computers
    • equipped to play CDs and DVDs and to access digital collections a wide array of research resources
  • 2 listening/viewing rooms (accommodating up to 4 people each)
    • equipped to play DVDs, video cassettes, laser discs, reel-to-reel tapes
  • study carrels
    • not assigned; open to all at any time


Today, the Conservatory Library's collection consists of approximately 345,000 items, comparable to the largest music libraries in academic settings both public and private. The collections include nearly 136,000 sound recordings; 141,000 musical scores; nearly 68,000 books about music; and 210 periodical titles. Approximately 2,000 recordings, 3,300 scores, and 1,000 books are added to the collection each year. The Library's collection includes a substantial foundation of Western art music from all historical periods, complete editions of the works of major composers, as well as an ever-growing collection in the areas of women musicians and American, ethnic, contemporary, jazz, folk, and popular music.

The Conservatory Library’s Special Collections represent a vast musical spectrum from extremely rare jazz sound recordings as found in the James and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection to 16th century theoretical treatises from the distinguished library of Frederick R. Selch.  

Collection Organization

Purchase Recommendations

Suggestions for the Collections may be directed to Deborah Campana, Conservatory Librarian.


Given the Conservatory Library's space constraints, we must be highly discriminating in adding gift materials to our collections. If we cannot accept a gift, we would be happy to help donors explore other venues for depositing materials.

See the library’s Gift Policy.

Milestones in Conservatory Library History

  • Soon after the inauguration of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1865, the Conservatory Library was established. Approximately 10,000 scores formed its core collection.
  • With additional scores, reserve-shelf books, public school materials, and reference resources, the Library's collection numbered approximately 35,000 by 1940.
  • In 1958, the Conservatory Library became an administrative unit of the Oberlin College Library system.
  • By 1964, it had moved to quarters housed within the Conservatory's new facility designed by Minoru Yamasaki.
  • In 1988, the Conservatory Library opened a new addition designed by Gunnar Birkerts and Associates that stands to the south of Warner Concert Hall. This addition nearly tripled the Library's space, although only one of the addition's two floors was fully complete at the time.
  • The Conservatory Library was renovated and expanded in 2000; an elevator was installed to provide public access to the newly-completed West Wing's second floor and high density shelving was added for extensive collection growth.
  • With the addition of the Kohl Building in 2010 the Conservatory Library obtained a vault for housing special collections.
  • In 2015 a Special Collections reading room was constructed in the East Room of the Library. This room provides space for collection processing, including digitization of sound and images, as well as a place to interact with special collections materials.

For more historical information about the Oberlin Conservatory Library, consult the bibliography.

Last updated:
November 20, 2019