Library & Archive Collections

Library & Archive Collections

The College's library is as old as the College. From modest beginnings it has grown over the years into a library of great distinction, whose comprehensive specialist holdings of organ and choral music and books are known across the world.

The library supports organists, choral directors and scholars of the organ and organ music in their work; it complements and supports our educational programmes; and it provides resources for those preparing for our examinations

Location & Access

The RCO Curzon Loan Collection

With over 3,000 items from RCO stock, the collection of sheet music and books at the Curzon Library (‘RCO Curzon Loan Collection’) is open to RCO members for browsing and borrowing at the University’s brand-new library at the Curzon Building in the heart of Birmingham. This is located at 4 Cardigan Street, Birmingham B4 7BD.

As an RCO Member, and at no charge, you will:

  1. Have unlimited access to the RCO Curzon Loan Collection (and other Curzon Library collections) during opening hours
  2. Be able to borrow up to four items at a time from the RCO Curzon Loan Collection and any other BCU loan collections (this includes the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire)
  3. Be able to access study space during opening hours
  4. Be able to request facilitated interlibrary loans via the British Library (a charge will be levied for this service)

To take advantage of the service, follow the instructions at: libguides.bcu.ac.uk/visit.

You will receive an invitation to visit the Curzon Library (with identification) to complete the registration.

A catalogue of the loan material available to RCO members at the Curzon Library can be accessed at:http://www.bcu.ac.uk/student-info/learning-support/library-and-learning-resources/library-resources.

The RCM-RCO Organ Collection

As well as the facilities in Birmingham, we are delighted to announce that the collection of organ sheet music at the Royal College of Music is now also open to RCO members for browsing and borrowing (at Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BS). The RCM’s existing collection has been enhanced by the addition of around 2,500 items from RCO stock, and Members will have full access to the RCM-RCO combined collection during opening hours. As an RCO Member, and at no charge, you will:

  1. Be able to borrow up to four items at a time from the RCM-RCO Organ Collection
  2. Be able to access the RCO’s special collections of archival, manuscript and antiquarian printed material (reference only) now housed at the RCM (details of this collection and access arrangements will be confirmed as soon as possible)

Members should visit the RCM’s Library during opening hours (with identification) to complete user registration. Details of the RCM Library may be found at: www.rcm.ac.uk/library. A catalogue of the loan material available at the RCM can be consulted at: rcm.koha-ptfs.co.uk/. The catalogue search box will provide the option ‘Organ Collection’; please search here.

RCO Collections in transition

This is a transitional period for the RCO Library and Archive Collections, and we are grateful to Members for their understanding as all new arrangements are put in place. The walk-in and loan facilities in Birmingham and London are now available, and further updates about the Collections (e.g., arrangements for postal borrowing and for locating reference items) will be made available as soon as possible in College publications and on this webpage. Enquiries may be sent to library@rco.org.uk, and we shall do our best to assist.

History & Holdings

Currently, the holdings comprise over 60,000 titles, a number which continues to increase through frequent acquisitions.

The acquisitions ensure that the breadth of the Library collection is maintained in the areas of new publications and historical source material.

There are books on the organ (its history, construction, and repertoire), acoustics, architecture, technical textbooks, studies of composers, books on music history, and related subjects. There is an enviably comprehensive collection of music for organ solo, multiple organs, and organ(s) with other instruments (together with selected performance material) in historic original editions, facsimiles, and contemporary publications, besides a large collection of vocal music both sacred and secular from Dufay to the present day.

The recordings range from vintage 78s to CDs, and the holdings on microfilm include access to some of the College's most valuable manuscripts presently on loan to the British Library.

The College Library is also a repository for a number of significant collections, including the Parratt Papers, the Sowerbutts Collection, the Dalton Bequest, the Cruden Collection, and the Aprahamian Collection. The College is also the custodian of the Susi Jeans Archive (formerly at the University of Reading ) and the Organ Club Library.

In iRCO you can find a full history of the Library, its history and development, by former College Librarian Robin Langley (click here for more information if you haven't already registered to use iRCO).