Paul Pedersen Collection finding aid

The Paul Pedersen Collection archive finding aid is now available on-line!

Paul Pedersen Finding Aid

Professor Pedersen is a composer, pedagogue  and former dean of both the Schulich School of Music at McGill University and the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto.

The Collection, housed in the Marvin Duchow Music Library’s rare book and special collections room measures 18 linear feet and contains over 8000 items.  It consists of professional materials that span much of Paul Pedersen’s career in music and education including compositional sketches and drafts, literary writings, teaching materials, photographs, correspondence, etc.


For access to the collection, Monday-Friday, 9-5, please contact Cynthia Leive for an appointment.


Donald Mackey Collection finding aid

The Donald Mackey Collection archival finding aid is now available on-line!

Donald Mackey Collection

Professor Mackey was a Montreal organist and choir conductor.  He taught at McGill University for thirty years.

The Collection, housed in the Marvin Duchow Music Library’s rare book and special collections room, includes over 600 items and consists of Donald Mackey’s and the Renaissance Singers of Montreal’s complete portfolio of CBC broadcast programmes and radio scripts. It also contains documentary artifacts including correspondence, concert programmes, photographs and special projects that chronicle Mackey’s musical career and life in Montreal.

For access to the collection, Monday-Friday, 9-5, please contact Cynthia Leive for an appointment.


Sibley Music Library’s Preservation Workshop and a McGill Music Library sheet music collection

Hello! My name is Houman Behzadi and I am very excited to share one of my recent projects at the Marvin Duchow Music Library with you.  During the previous academic year, you might have seen me working at the fourth floor audio/visual reserves or the third floor reference desk.  I am afraid, however, that I will be less visible for the next few months as I’ll be spending most of my time “behind the scenes” working in our Rare Book and Special Collections Room.

Please allow me to tell you a little bit about my background:  I hold a Master’s degree in Violin Solo Performance and Literature from the University of Western Ontario and will soon start my second year of a Masters of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) at McGill.  My work and study have been in the areas of violin and vocal performance and pedagogy, historical performance practice, music printing and publishing, rare and antiquarian books and scores, and most recently physical conservation and digital preservation.  In addition to being employed at the Music Library, I work at the McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections ( where I have the good fortune of being able to work with rare and antiquarian books and documents.

About a year ago, my supervisor at the Music Library introduced me to a large collection of 19th century French sheet music donated to us by the National Gallery ( and Library Archives Canada (  Two things about this collection caught my attention immediately: first, the richness and beauty of the lithography, and second, the inappropriate conditions in which it had been originally stored.  To be more precise, every piece of sheet music had been glued, from its four corners, to highly acidic cardboard.  If sheet music publication dates falls around the end of the 19th or the beginning of 20th century, it is likely the attached cardboard will contribute to the discoloration and brittleness of the sheet music.  A major step towards the preservation of this fine collection would be to detach each item from its acidic backing (without causing any damage to the item), store it in an acid-free folder and then, along with other sheet music pieces, house it in an acid-free box.

Anticipating some involvement in both the aforementioned project and various other tasks in our Rare Book and Special Collections Room, I felt the need to further educate myself and learn about best practices in the field.  Earlier this year, I received an email message through the listserv of the Music Library Association ( regarding the possibility of attending a Music Preservation Workshop at the Sibley Music Library in Rochester, New York.  The Sibley Music Library ( is the largest academic music library in the United States and happens to have its own preservation/conservation laboratory directed by Alice Carli.  I managed to take a week off from work to travel to Rochester and attend the workshop.  Working under Alice’s direction proved to be an invaluable experience!

Six students in total took part.  This meant we got a great deal of personal attention from the instructor.  The major areas addressed were:

  • Sibley Music Library’s workflow (including the digitization process and their online depository:
  • Photocopying and scanning brittle and problematic books or scores
  • Discussing various formats and appropriate preservation structures in a music library
  • Tour of the Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections Department (a.k.a. “the vault”!  This was by far the most impressive rare music room I had ever come across!  For more information please visit:
  • Conservation products and suppliers
  • Guarding and pamphlet binding
  • Binding of unusual formats
  • Perfect and double-fan binding
  • Paper conservation
  • Sewing in signatures
  • Traditional binding from scratch (This procedure took approximately two full days from start to finish.  Having bound a book, I now have so much more appreciation for the art of book binding, in particular antiquarian binding that is rare to come across nowadays.)
  • The importance of the organizational vision and mission statements
  • Copyright issues and their implication on digitization policies
  • Disaster planning
  • Mold removal
  • De-acidification (in-house or professional)

In addition to the list of the subjects mentioned above, each student was asked to bring examples of problem areas he/she was dealing with in his/her respective music library. I was grateful for the chance to discuss a variety of techniques with my instructor and colleagues and to learn about best practices I could utilize in our Rare Book and Special Collections Room.  My goal was to brainstorm, experiment, and learn.  Overall, this workshop provided me with the fundamental knowledge and skills I needed to start working on our sheet music collection as well as other rare and antiquarian material in need of care.  Furthermore, I learned about other advanced courses and professional conservation workshops I could attend in the future.  I look forward to participating in them when the opportunity arises.

We are very excited about the work we’re doing and the progress we’ve made in the Rare Book and Special Collections Room.  Please stay tuned for other news regarding this collection!

Kelsey Jones Collection finding aid

The Kelsey Jones Collection archive finding aid is now available on-line!

Kelsey Jones Finding Aid

Professor Jones was a composer, pianist, harpsichordist and pedagogue at McGill University.

The Collection, housed in the Marvin Duchow Music Library’s rare book and special collections room, consists of compositional sketches, drafts and texts for virtually all of his major works. It also contains selected correspondence, concert programmes and some personal papers.


For access to the collection, Monday-Friday, 9-5, please contact Cynthia Leive for an appointment.


Summer Archival Project!


Hi there!

If you’ve been in and out of Music Library this summer, you might have wondered, who is that girl sequestered behind the old information desk and why on earth is she surrounded by mounds of paper, boxes, photographs and old sketches of what look like compositions? Or perhaps you might not have wondered at all! 😉 Either way, that girl is me… Michaela. I am a Masters student in opera and voice performance at McGill University. And I have been spending my summer at the Library, thanks to a Young Canada Works Grant,  working on a special project for the MDML.

"Look at those beauties!"

Full colour facsimile of 14th century Squarcialupi Codex (1992 re-print) and an ORIGINAL mid-18th century printed edition of G.F. Händel’s Judas Maccabaeus!!! Photo credit: Owen Egan


Over the past couple of months, I have been sorting through the personal and professional papers, photographs, sketches, scores and literary writings, etc. of celebrated, Montreal-based musicians and former McGill faculty members, Paul Pedersen, Kelsey Jones and Donald Mackey.

This special project has given me an inside look into the lives and careers of these accomplished musical figures. More importantly, working on this project has shown me the great importance of the preservation of our Canadian artists’ works and the context in which they were created. The archival protection of these collections, along with the creation of detailed finding aids, will ensure future scholars have access to information about these key figures as they write the history of post-WWII music in Canada.

We are so excited, the finding aids are almost complete! Soon we will be able to post information about these amazing collections on our new blog, facebook and twitter pages, so please stay tuned!