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 Library is administered on the College's behalf by Birmingham City University's Library and Learning Resources. It is housed in modern archival facilities at:

Records Centre
Attwood Building
Birmingham City University
Perry Barr
Birmingham B42 2SU

For directions to the City North Campus at Perry Barr, click here.

For directions to the Attwood Building (marked 'A') click here for a large scale map of the campus

All visits to the site must be arranged with the Library Manager (see Access by Appointment below) on 0121 331 7266 or at library@rco.org.uk

Library Services

Online Catalogue

Some parts of the RCO Library have now been catalogued electronically, in particular most of the sheet music for organ. When seeking sheet music titles Members are encouraged to search this catalogue ahead of contacting the Library Manager with requests for loan (appointment and postal) and reference (appointment only) material. There are some restrictions on the lending of sheet music, largely dependent on the age and condition of an item. Enquiries about this and about access to all the other material in the RCO Library should be made direct to the Library Manager library@rco.org.uk.

Access the Online Catalogue

Postal borrowing

If you are an RCO Member you may borrow music, books, recordings and examination support materials (music and books for set periods and topics, preparatory test material and past aural examination recordings). For more information about the current online catalogue and the general availability of material see 'Online catalogue' above. Please note there will a charge for postage, packing, and administration, payable in advance.

For full details of how this facility works, please apply to the Library Manager at library@rco.org.uk

Access by appointment

Access to the RCO Library is by appointment subject to availability. Making an appointment is essential as space is limited to one person at a time. Even the return of loaned material must be scheduled, however brief. Appointments are available for Tuesday mornings (10:00-13:00) and Thursday afternoons (14:00-17:00).

Any fraction of these periods may be taken (from 15 mins to 3 hours) although Members are limited to 5 three-hour sessions in any one calendar month.

As the collections are housed in closed access shelving, material will be brought to readers, who must, as far as possible, request titles in advance (see 'Online catalogue' above). For material not on electronic catalogue, please consult the Library Manager library@rco.org.uk

Photocopying

We regret that a photocopying facility is not currently available.

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).