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Explore the Collection

The Northwestern University Music Library has a broad collection that includes books, scores, sound recordings, and databases that support the many needs of both students and faculty of the Bienen School of Music, as well as the entire Northwestern community. The Music Library's collections cover all historical periods, with particular strength in twentieth-century music. Our mission is to collect as comprehensively as possible all Western art music written since 1945. Collection highlights include:

Circulating and Reference Collections

  • Use our online catalog, NUsearch, to find circulating and reference materials such as books, scores, and recordings.

Rare Books, Scores, Archival and Manuscript Collections

Access and use of rare books, scores, archival and manuscript collections is available to Northwestern students, faculty, staff and visiting researchers via the McCormick Library of Special Collections and University Archives. For optimal service, appointments are encouraged prior to visiting. Contact the McCormick Library at to get started.
  • Rare books and published scores: Find first and early editions of treatises, libretti and printed music as well as facsimiles of manuscripts and other primary sources. Use NUsearch to locate rare books and published scores.
  • Archival and manuscript collections: Collections represent multiple styles and eras and range from the archives of experimental musician John Cage, to the modern conductor Fritz Reiner. Other rare materials include musical autographs, general music manuscripts and correspondence from the 14th century to the present. More on archival and manuscript collections.
  • Northwestern performance recordings: Northwestern Libraries holds recordings of faculty recitals, faculty master classes, and performances by School of Music ensembles. Performances from 1995 onward can be located in NUsearch; performances from 2006 - 2016 are available in digital format to the  Northwestern community via Digital Collections. See the Find and Use Materials page for information about circulation and reproduction of these recordings.