CDD collection

Music Library Collection


Houman Behzadi


Collection profile

The University of Toronto (U of T) Music Library holds the largest and most comprehensive music research collection in Canada. Referred to as a national treasure, it is also considered to be one of the most important collections of its kind in North America. The Library acquires print, electronic and audio/visual resources that support all areas of research and inquiry at the U of T Faculty of Music. The library's main users are the university faculty, students and staff. Additionally, the collection serves much larger local, national and international audiences via in-person consultations or the established Inter-Library Loan channels.

The Library collects from a large geographic region, namely North and South Americas, Western Europe, East-Central Europe, Russia, Africa, Middle East, India, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. While English is the primary language of the majority of the library’s monograph holdings, we collect in German, Italian, French, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Czech, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese and Japanese, among others. The Latin script monographs are housed at the Music Library and the non-Latin script items are held at various branches of the University of Toronto Libraries, such as Robarts, East Asian, or Downsview Libraries.

Programs and degrees supported


  • Composition
  • Comprehensive
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Music Education
  • Music for Arts and Science Students
  • Music Theory
  • Musicology
  • Performance -- Conducting
  • Performance -- Early Music
  • Performance -- Instrumental
  • Performance -- Jazz
  • Performance -- Keyboard
  • Performance -- Opera
  • Performance -- Voice Studies

The Music Library is proactive in supporting the new areas of education and research at the Faculty of Music. We also collaborate with our faculty members and students to better understand and respond to their evolving needs. Below is a list of the newly added programs:

  • Music and Health
  • Music Technology
  • Comprehensive -- Jazz
  • Music Education -- Jazz


  • Advanced certificate in Performance
  • Artist Diploma
  • Bachelor of Music
  • Bachelor of Music Performance
  • Diploma in Operatic Performance
  • DMA in Collaborative Piano
  • DMA in Composition
  • DMA in Performance
  • DMA in Piano Pedagogy
  • DMA in Solo Piano
  • MA in Ethnomusicology
  • MA in Music and Health
  • MA in Music Education
  • MA in Music Theory
  • MA in Musicology
  • MMus in Collaborative piano
  • MMus in Composition
  • MMus in Conducting
  • MMus in Historical Performance
  • MMus in Instrumental Performance
  • MMus in Jazz
  • MMus in Music Technology and Digital Media
  • MMus in Opera
  • MMus in Piano Pedagogy
  • MMus in Vocal Performance
  • MMus in Vocal Pedagogy
  • PhD in Ethnomusicology
  • PhD in Music and Health
  • PhD in Music Education
  • PhD in Music Theory
  • PhD in Musicology

Book, music score and CD acquisition

Through the University of Toronto Libraries’ (UTL) Dealer Selection Order (DSO) plans, the Music Library receives newly published/released monographs, music scores and audio recordings from book dealers and vendors worldwide. Since 2000, the DSO plans have provided us with an average of 2,000 monographs, 1,200 music scores and 500 CDs on an annual basis.

In addition to the major university press publications, we collect stand-alone titles and series that correspond to the readership levels of our main user groups (general and advanced academic). Currently, the preferred format of the acquired monographs is print. The UTL also provides its users with a hybrid information-seeking environment by subscribing to a large number of eBook packages.

The Library acquires performance and scholarly editions of music scores from several well-established Canadian and foreign vendors. The Music Library's holdings are especially strong when it comes to monumental editions (M1 and M2) and collected works of composers (M3). The UTL has special funds that support the growth of this important section of the collection.

The scope of the Library's CD collection mirrors, as much as possible, that of its music scores. With the exception of Canadian labels or Canadian content on foreign labels, we do not duplicate content in CD format should the content be available on Naxos Music Library (NML)and NML Jazz, classical and jazz music streaming databases to which the library subscribes. This policy allows us to save precious shelf space and maximize the subject and geographic coverage of the CD collection.

The Music Library does not have any devoted funds for the ongoing acquisition of DVDs. We purchase DVDs on an ad-hoc basis and mainly as a result of purchase requests from our faculty and students. Occasionally, Media Commons supports the Music Library when the price of an item puts strain on our financial resources.

The library is committed to collecting the textual and audio/visual output of Canadian music scholars, composers and musicians. One exception is the music scores published by the Canadian Music Centre (CMC). The CMC Library is in Toronto and minutes away from the Music Library. We support their mandate and rely on their collection as an important extension to ours.

We also receive through donations a significant number of retrospective materials from private collections. On any given year the Music Library staff examine thousands of items donated to the library, of which approximately 2,500 titles are processed and added to the collection.

Journal subscriptions

The Music Library has subscriptions to several hundred journals in print, print plus online, and online only formats. The ongoing subscription cost, currency fluctuations and unpredictable annual price increases of journal subscriptions necessitate a high degree of stewardship in this area. New titles are acquired based on the careful examination of incoming requests from the faculty and graduate students. We also select and add Open Access journals to the UTL online catalogue based on a set of criteria such as author affiliation, prestige, ease of access and scholarly value. 

Electronic databases

The Library has subscriptions to a large number of electronic resources that are accessible both on the U of T campuses and remotely through user authentication. These include, but are not limited to encyclopaedias, dictionaries, handbooks, major music indices (e.g. RILM, RIPM, Music Index, etc.), electronic music score packages and audio/visual streaming databases (e.g. Naxos Music Library,, Smithsonian Global sound, etc.). We monitor the use of electronic databases as best we can to measure their continued usefulness and relevancy.

Special collections

The Music Library has a designated space for its special collections and archives. The archival collections of the Library are veritable testimonies to the rich musical life of Toronto in the twentieth century. Countless manuscripts, correspondences, concert programmes, photographs, and recordings have made the archives a historical treasure trove documenting the contributions of Canadian musicians and music scholars to the national and international music scenes. The archives and special collections include, among many other:  the Kathleen Parlow, John Beckwith, Boyd Neel and Conservatory Chamber Music Club (Toronto) collections. Additionally, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library holds an extensive collection of Italian opera libretti printed before 1900, which offers a valuable insight into the origin and development of opera.

Growth and future directions

As articulated in the UTL’s 2013-2018 Strategic Plan, the Music Library is committed to building and expanding its world class collection. In doing so, we strive to monitor and understand the rapid changes in the information seeking preferences of our user groups. The application of this knowledge to our collection building practices is of high importance, especially in light of the growing space and financial challenges. The library, in collaboration with the members of the U of T Faculty of Music, will examine the benefits and disadvantages of increasing its electronic acquisitions, in particular when it comes to monographs and journals. Ultimately, the new and traditional areas of scholarship at the Faculty of Music guide us in our mission to support the teaching and learning of our users.