Music Reference Services Pre-COVID-19: A Climate Survey in the Recent before Times

Kate Lambaria, Joe C. Clark, Kristina Shanton, Peter Shirts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the fall of 2019, the Music Library Association’s Reference and Access Services Subcommittee surveyed academic librarians as to the following parameters regarding their music reference services: delivery methods, physical locations, staffing models, approaches to training, perceived effectiveness of services, and changes over time. Findings suggest that despite technological advances, most music reference help is delivered through in-person, email, phone, and chat. Just over half of respondents have only librarians addressing reference questions, while the remainder also use students and paraprofessionals. There was no meaningful difference in perceived effectiveness between the various staffing models. While only 19 percent of participants are situated in branch libraries for music, these locations experienced a higher increase in reference transactions and more outreach and instruction over the last five years and also ranked their reference services with more effectiveness. Additionally, respondents identified training and outreach as integral to the effectiveness of reference services and communicated their experiences with changes to service and staffing models.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-379
Number of pages23
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music
  • Library and Information Sciences


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