Opinion: The Music Library is UVa’s Hidden Treasure

Photo Courtesy: McIntire Department of Music

Deep in the bottom of Old Cabell Hall lies an old, silent, hidden treasure of the University: the Music Library. There aren’t many books and it might not be as vast as its counterparts like Alderman and Clemons, but it comes with something more than a regular library: character.

The walls are made of what looks like white clay that no one ever bothered to smooth out, the columns stand awkwardly in the middle of the library, and the quiet is nearly unsettling considering the importance of music to the space.

But don’t be fooled: there are some pretty special perks to working in this little known gem. According to student librarian Victoria Lu, the Music Library is “fantastic and amazing.” I mean, who uses those words to describe a library of all places? 

The space is also notable for being the only library on the Lawn. Its location in Old Cabell Hall comes an alternation of melodic sound and still silence, a pattern due largely to the generation of music from the concert hall above it.

Yet, despite the ideal conditions of the Music Library as a work and study space, not everyone is aware of it.

“A lot of people know but not everyone,” says Lu. In fact, there are typically no more than 30 to 40 people in the space at any given time, compared to the majority of UVa’s other libraries’ abilities to hold over a hundred people per floor.

Luckily, this lack of traffic does not change the value placed on the Music Library by its loyal fans. Lu puts it well: “all the libraries are distinct and have their own flavor, but this one is very representative of the Music department and the building.” And with more than one million tracks of music, over 135,000 books, and countless advocates, this library is a place that the department itself and music-lovers everywhere should revere for years to come.


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