Information seeking behaviors of music students

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This paper seeks to explore how and via what tools music students are identifying, locating, and accessing music materials - specifically scores and recordings - for use in their music studies. It also aims to examine similarities and differences in the information seeking behavior of students in various music sub-disciplines and students at different points in their academic tenure. Design/methodology/approach: The study employed survey and focus groups methodologies. Findings: It was found that students use myriad library and non-library tools to discover and access scores and recordings. It identified the frequency and specificity with which students seek scores and recordings. There are more similarities between performers and music educators than musicologists or other areas, and graduate and upperclass students have different behaviors than underclass students, who are more likely to use library resources. This study also identified some of the reasons students become frustrated in searching for music materials and from where they seek help. Research limitations/implications: The response rate to this survey was only 11 percent and surveys are not the best indicator of actual behavior. While the use of focus groups did offset this to a degree, a more widespread survey and user studies would be merited to understand any wider patters of music student behaviors. Practical implications: With the findings from this study libraries serving music students can tailor their instruction and marketing efforts. They can also focus their collections and resources appropriately for the various types of patrons served by their library. Originality/value: Little previous research has been done on the general information seeking behaviors of music students. Other work has focused on music faculty, specific sub-disciplines in music, or on issues specific to finding music in library catalogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-573
Number of pages16
JournalReference Services Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Information resources
  • Information seeking
  • Libraries
  • Music
  • Music scores
  • Recordings
  • Students
  • Universities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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