Acquisition Criteria

The question of choosing or selecting the material to go into the library creates problems given the amount of popular music that is continuously published. The following section deals with the particular stock of the BBC Popular Music Library and indicates the criteria involved in acquisition of this material.

Arrangements: The collection of these depends entirely on the requirements of the broadcasting production departments. Production departments decide how much of their budget is available for new arrangements and then commission these through an orchestrations department. In this process the library receives the finished product and catalogues it. Library staffs are, therefore, not involved in an acquisition policy as far as this material is concerned, only to advise on material already in existence and avoid duplication.

Publishers’ Printed Orchestrations: The Library receives lists from publishers who issue this material, the bulk of which is now published in the USA, and decisions are made as to which of the titles would be useful for BBC radio bearing in mind the output of radio and the style of the arrangers or composers involved. Occasionally specific pieces are requested by production departments and ordered for library stock.

Song Copies: The top twenty songs from the British Charts are normally ordered as a matter of course although they are not always available in print. In addition, orders are made for any new songs which are thought suitable or have become popular by one means or another. Much of this material is supplied free of charge, although payments can also be made.

Song Albums and Vocal Scores: With these items, selection is made on the basis of what is considered to be suitable for the likely users of the library. This is not primarily an archive, and does not attempt to acquire everything in print. It is also very easy to duplicate such material, as publishers are very good at re-issuing the same material dressed up in different packages. Vocal scores from every successful musical play and operetta that has been in London from the turn of the century are collected but nowadays publishers tend to issue only selections from new works as opposed to the whole score. This can be a problem when an entire score is called for.

Instrumental Items: There are far fewer of these in the popular music area than in serious music, and most of them are issued as piano items. Unless a piece has become popular we only acquire instrumental pieces on demand by users.

Reference Books: The Library administers its own small budget for these items, which is just adequate for our needs. Although this budget is small, the amount of books brought out on the subject per year, including biographies, is also quite small and many of the new publications will duplicate in one form or another material already in stock.