Posted at 8:27 AM on April 13, 2007
by Rex Levang
It's National Library Week, starting Sunday, April 15. You might want to send out kind thoughts to the Saint Paul Public Library, which started lending out recordings of music some 70 years ago--the first American public library to do so.
Nowadays, a lot of libraries offer online access to the New Grove Dictionary of Music, the mightiest of music reference works in English. The Minneapolis Public Library is one, and anyone with a Minnesota library card that's entered in their system can use it at home. (Non-Minnesotans, check your local library system for availability.) A few facts about the online Grove that may be noteworthy/helpful/fun:
1. Instant research at your desk, with a full-text search of the New Grove, Grove Opera and Grove Jazz. Yes, you can find a mention of Minnesota Public Radio.
2. Go to the "Biography" section under Advanced Search, and you can search any date for birth or death anniversaries (78 birthday hits for April 13!)
3. Links: Often, in the introductory paragraph of an article, there will be text links referring you to other articles. E.g. in the article on Four Saints in Three Acts, the references to Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein are both links that you can click on. They're in a different color, though it's a little hard to see at first.
4. Speaking of opera ... this has the best collection of opera plot summaries that there is.
5. Updated articles. There are times when the online version will have information that has come along since the publication of the print version. (But be aware that they're not trying to do this on a daily basis.)
6. When you use Search, the search results will come with percentage ratings. Note that the "obvious" article that you want may not get the highest percentage rating -- this is not a Google-style search. Let your common sense be your guide and scroll down through the search results to find the article you really want.