Charles H. Mills Music Library
Mills Music Library, a member library of the General Library System of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is the primary resource for music materials and information on the UW campus and in the state. While our main clientele are from the UW campus community, Mills is open to the general public with appropriate identification.
Over the course of its history, Mills Music Library has grown from a 2,500-item departmental collection to a research library of more than 250,000 titles, with special collections containing an additional 250,000 items in all formats. Special strengths include Americana, musical theater, recorded sound, and ethnomusicology.
The Music Library was first located in Music Hall. The collection moved with the School of Music to the Humanities building when it opened in 1969. That space soon proved inadequate and in the early 1970s, the south basement of Memorial Library was excavated to provide for a new Music Library facility. In the summer of 1974, Mills Music Library moved to its current location, B162 Memorial Library. The facility was completely redecorated in January 2007.
The Music Library houses staff offices, open stacks, a seminar room, a special collections (Locked Case) facility, and the Audio Facility. Music Library study carrels and reading tables provide seating for about 50 users.
The first mention of a music library on the University of Wisconsin campus dates to November 1900, when renovations were made to Assembly/Library Hall (now Music Hall) in order to accommodate its occupancy by the School of Music. The remodeling project called for the division of what was then the University Library's two story room into two distinct floors. The first floor was to house “a waiting area, an office for the School's director, five piano studios, a rehearsal room, and a room for a music library.” The music library is once again mentioned in the context of a renovation plan, originally proposed in 1916 but not undertaken until 1924. No photos of this library survive.
When School of Music director Charles Mills died in 1937, the faculty passed a resolution to dedicate the Music Library in his memory. The Charles H. Mills Memorial Fund drive was begun and donations were solicited from alumni, friends, and the musical public. The dedication of the Charles H. Mills Memorial Library took place on Sunday, 5 February 1939. A brass plaque commemorating the event was hung in the Mills Memorial Music Library. On 8 December 1939, the University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra gave a concert to benefit the Mills Memorial Library fund. The program was conducted by Mills’ successor as School of Music Director, Carl Bricken, and premiered his Symphony No. 2 in F major. Bricken, a noted composer, had won a Pulitzer Prize for an earlier composition.
The first music librarian at the University of Wisconsin was George Hanson, who also served as University Carilloneur. Under Hanson, the transfer of many books from the General Library was effected and an acquisition system established. The Bach Gesellschaft edition, acquired through donations to the Mills Memorial fund, was entered as the first acquisition of the Library. During 1942, the Charles H. Mills Memorial Music Library joined the Music Library Association.
Hanson was called to military service in the fall of 1943 and was replaced by Ruth Haylett Ferguson in the spring of 1944. That same year, the Music Library was mentioned for the first time in the yearbook's School of Music entry. Ferguson was aware of cataloging problems concerned with music materials and corresponded with a company that sold music cataloging. She attended conferences and was alert to equipment and materials needs. A letter from Ernst Krenek gave information on a “reading machine” (microfilm reader) he had described to her during a September 1946 visit to Madison.
By 1948, the Mills Music Library was considered an official branch of the General (University) Library. A memorandum from that year indicates the holdings of the Music Library to be 2,500 volumes and clearly distinguishes between the branch and office libraries on campus. One important distinction was the requirement that a branch collection be supervised by a librarian, rather than a departmental secretary or graduate assistant.
For the next 21 years, Music Hall housed the Music Library and the School of Music. Because facilities were inadequate, several off-site annexes were established, one of which housed the Listening Facility and record collection. In the fall of 1969, Mills Music Library moved with the School of Music to the new Humanities building. Although the new space did permit the consolidation of the Music Library and the Listening Facility, it was inadequate to provide for growth. Less than three years later, the south basement of Memorial Library was excavated to provide for a new Music Library facility and in the summer of 1974, Mills Music Library moved to its current location, B162 Memorial Library.
Since the late 1970s, Mills Music Library has grown to be a major research collection of more than 250,000 volumes, complemented by another 250,000 items in its special collections. Among the most notable of these are the 19th-century Americana Collection, the Tams-Witmark/Wisconsin Collection, the Skitch Henderson Collection, the 1st Brigade Band of Brodhead Civil War Band Books, the The Blake Horn Collection, the Helene Stratman-Thomas Collection., the Hummel Collection, the Recorded Sound Archives, and the Wisconsin Music Archives.
Head Librarians of Mills Music Library
- George Hanson, 1939?–1943
- Ruth Ferguson, 1944–1959
- Bill Bunce, 1960–1972
- Lenore Coral, 1972–1982
- Arne Arneson, 1983–1987
- Geraldine Laudati, 1989–2006
- Jeanette Casey, 2007–
No building on the University of Wisconsin campus holds more associations with music than does Old Music Hall. Begun in 1878 to meet the university’s need for a building where all of its 481 students could assemble and to house adequate library facilities, the building was first named Assembly Hall.
Madison architect David R. Jones designed the Victorian Gothic building, which housed an 800-seat auditorium, and a two-story, 75-seat library, lit only by large skylights over the reading area. Its tower clock provided the time standard for the community of Madison. The building was dedicated on Tuesday, 2 March 1880, with Wisconsin Governor William E. Smith opening the long—and apparently tedious—program. The campus paper, The University Press, in a portent of things to come, considered the musical portion of the program, directed by Professor F. A. Parker, “the pleasantest feature of the evening.”
1880 also saw the establishment of the Department of Music and Francis A. Parker became the university’s first Professor of Music. Parker originally came to campus as the Instructor for Vocal and Instrumental Music in 1878, the same year that construction began on Assembly Hall.
Assembly Hall was a central meeting place for all types of university activities. UW commencement exercises were held in the Hall, as were convocations, installations, memorials, etc. At the same time, receptions, teas, dances, and other social occasions were scheduled in the auditorium, which was known both for its good acoustics and fine dance floor. It was obvious, however, that the building was too small for the quickly-growing university and even the new Library was inadequate almost from the time it opened.
With the building of the Armory and the move of the University Library to larger facilities in the State Historical Society, part of the building was turned over the School of Music in 1900. The first major renovation of Assembly Hall (or Library Hall, as it was popularly known) was announced in November of that year, in order to make the space useful to the school. Two builders bid on the project, which was awarded to the low bid of $1500. The most dramatic alteration in the remodeling plan was the division of the library’s two-story room into two distinct floors. The first floor included a waiting area “supplied with current musical literature, an office for the School’s director, five piano studios, a rehearsal room, and a room for a music library.”
On 7 December 1910, the Regents officially changed the building’s name to Music Hall.
From 1900 until the School of Music moved to the new Humanities building in 1969, Music Hall served, along with several later annexes, as home to the School and to Mills Music Library. Music Hall was then turned over to the School of Music’s opera department. A major renovation of the auditorium was completed in October 1985 and Old Music Hall remains a vital and important music venue.
Mills Music Library Stack Guide
The Jongleur was formerly published twice each academic year to coincide with the start of the Fall and Spring semesters. Topics covered included updates on electronic library resources and how to use them, library-sponsored workshops, the library’s calendar, and lists of recent publications & recordings of School of Music faculty.
N.B. Please be aware that many of the older issues have hyperlinks that are no longer valid, as well as old coding styles that may or may not display properly.
- Volume 12 (Fall 2006/Spring 2007)
- Volume 11, No. 2 (Spring 2005)
- Volume 11, No. 1 (Fall 2004)
- Volume 10, No. 2 (Spring 2004)
- Volume 10, No. 1 (Fall 2003)
- Volume 9, No. 2 (February 2003)
- Volume 9, No. 1 (September 2002)
- Volume 8, No. 2 (February 2002)
- Volume 8, No. 1 (September 2001)
- Volume 7, No. 2 (February 2001)
- Volume 7, No. 1 (September 2000)
- Volume 6, No. 2 (February 2000)
- Volume 6, No. 1 (September 1999)
- Volume 5, No. 2 (February 1999)
- Volume 5, No. 1 (September 1998)
- Volume 4, No. 2 (February 1998)
- Volume 4, No. 1 (September 1997)
- Volume 3, No. 2 (February 1997)
- Volume 3, No. 1 (September 1996)
- Volume 2, No. 2 (February 1996)
- Volume 2, No. 1 (September 1995)
- Volume 1, No. 2 (February 1995)
- Volume 1, No. 1 (September 1994)
Student Jobs at Mills
A limited number of Library Student Assistant positions are available in Mills Music Library. Student Assistants contribute to a wide of range of services. For new workers, these include:
- shelving and stack maintenance
- audio facility/reserves circulation
- binding and labeling
The work is very detail- and process-oriented. Reading knowledge of music is strongly preferred, but not required, for most Music Library student positions. On-the-job study time is not available at Mills.
Eligibility for student positions in the General Library System requires that students be enrolled for credit during the semester employed. For summer employment, students are required to have been enrolled during the Spring semester, and to be returning for the Fall semester.
Application forms for employment in the GLS Libraries, including Mills Music Library, can be found here.
- Fill out and submit this form online.
- Print out your course grid and drop it off at the Mills Music Library Audio Facility.
- On your course grid, be sure to “X” out any time blocks in addition to your classes, during which you will be unavailable for work shifts.
- Also please indicate the number of hours per week you wish to work.
- If you anticipate changes to your course grid, please indicate the potential changes on the grid.
- Be sure that your name and email address appear on the course grid.
We need your COURSE GRID to begin consideration of your application.
- Please email the Mills Music Library circulation supervisor, stating that you have filed an application online. Without email notification that you have completed one, it is extremely unlikely that your application will come to our attention.
- ** No phone inquiries. ** Phone applicants will not be considered.
Please direct questions to the circulation supervisor.
Applications are accepted throughout the year, as necessary.
The Music Library generally receives more applications than it has openings and all applicants may not be contacted for interviews. Students are encouraged to keep a current application on file at Memorial so they can be considered for employment at other campus libraries.
From Madeira to Maui to the Mainland to Madison
(Summer 2009 to Fall 2010)
This exhibit was assembled to mark the 130th anniversary of the arrival of the ’ukulele into Hawaiian music. The exhibit included instruments, recordings, method books, song collections, and a wealth of information about the instrument and its players.
Visit the exhibit’s companion web site to hear audio examples, see video examples, and explore the sources used for the exhibit’s text.
Album Cover Art Exhibits Archive
In the summer of 2008, Mills Music Library shifted its collection of thousands of LP recordings. In the course of shifting, Mills workers began noticing very eye-catching album art; some illustrative, some abstract, some funny, some simply outrageous. We began informally displaying these album covers and the response from patrons was so enthusiastic that we decided to “formalize” the display by installing a picture rail from which to hang “interesting” album covers on the Audio Facility’s back wall.
Since January, 2009, the display is changed monthly, with a theme relevant to the current month. Response continues to be very positive, so, heeding a patron suggestion, this web page presents an archive of past displays. Enjoy!