The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #130895   Message #2948494
Posted By: GUEST,John Moulden
20-Jul-10 - 03:20 PM
Thread Name: Vaughan Williams Memorial Library & its importance
Subject: RE: Vaughan Williams Memorial Library & its importance
I am puzzled by this query. I live in Ireland, in Donegal. I am a member of EFDSS because it gives me copies of Folk Music Journal, English Dance and Song and privileged access to the Library when in London. As a member, I can have certain items sent to me via the postal services. I also have, as does anyone, access to Malcolm, Peta and Elaine by phone. I find this useful because the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library has a considerable archive of unique material which cannot be consulted anywhere else. London seems to me to be as good a place as any other, particularly with cheap(ish) flights.

However, The VWML does not hold as much Irish material as I have myself or anything like as much as the Irish Traditional Music Archive. Also Oidhreacht an Cláir in Miltown Malbay, the various National and University Libraries have vast resources of unique material concerning Irish music and its early and modern sources, as have individuals, like Len Graham and Seán Corcoran.

The sources are scattered and it is impracticable to bring them all together though ITMA is doing so in the form of surrogates. Digitization is not a complete answer to actually going to libraries, it's hugely expensive, very hit and miss (look at the appalling standard of much of Google and Microsoft's scans) and we have no idea how soon it will need to be done again because of changes in operating systems or system crashes.

Under these circumstances I think it's hardly fair to carp about the location of VWML at Cecil Sharp House in London but somewhat better to marvel that, though devoted work and inspired conservation, what is now a much under-regarded cultural treasure, is being preserved and made accessible at all. Thank the Chinese for paper and Heaven for the Malcolm Taylors of this world.