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, with comprehensive specialist holdings of organ and choral music and books.
The RCO's library collections support organists, choral directors and scholars of the organ and organ music in their work; they complement and support our educational programmes; and they provide resources for those preparing for our examinations. The College works in collaboration with Birmingham City University and the Royal College of Music to offer loan services.
The RCO Collection at the Curzon Library
With over 3,000 items from RCO stock, the collection of sheet music and books at the Curzon Library (‘RCO Collection at the Curzon Library’) is open to RCO members for browsing and borrowing at the University’s library at the Curzon Building in the heart of Birmingham. This is located at 4 Cardigan Street, Birmingham B4 7BD.
As a Full or Student RCO member, and at no charge, you can use this collection as follows:
You can access this service via the following web page, which contains all the details and links you will need: libguides.bcu.ac.uk/RCO
If you are not yet a registered RCO user at the Curzon Library you will need to complete the web-based form using the ‘Join the Library’ button. This will require you to enter your RCO membership number and also to upload suitable ID. Once your application has been approved (you will be informed) you may proceed to in-person or postal borrowing.
Once registered, you can submit your postal borrowing request(s) using the ‘RCO postal loan request form’ button.
If you have a query about this service or about the availability of items, please direct it to RCOLibrary@bcu.ac.uk
The RCM-RCO Organ Collection
A collection of organ sheet music at the Royal College of Music is also open to Full and Student members of the RCO for browsing and borrowing (at the Library, Royal College of Music, 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 a Full or Student RCO member, and at no charge, you are able to:
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 using this filter.
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 new arrangements are put in place. Updates about the Collections (e.g. locating reference items) will be made available as soon as possible in College publications and on this webpage. Enquiries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we shall do our best to assist.
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.
On our digital content hub iRCO, you can find a full history of the Library, its history and development, by former College Librarian Robin Langley.