Parsons Music Library

Primo collection: Music library offers tunes and study space

November 17, 2020


Drivers passing under Webb Tower may not realize that just above is a massive music collection, including 13,000 CDs, 18,000 scores, and 12,000 books.

“We have all kinds of music. You name it, we've got it, world music, pop, everything,” says Linda Fairtile, the head of Parsons Music Library. “There's sort of this misperception sometimes that we're only classical music, and that's far from the truth.” 

Along with music on CDs and DVDs, the library provides streaming audio and video resources. There are also resources for the performing arts, including  a collection of books and videos for dance students. 

“Our first goal is always to support the music department to give them the materials that they need for students who take music courses or are playing music ensembles, which is hundreds of students,” she said.


We have a very big collection for a university of this size. We're always happy for people to come and use our materials.

headshot of Linda Fairtile
Linda Fairtile

Head of Parsons Music Library

For the book collection, Fairtile takes care to choose new materials with broad appeal or that relate to multiple areas of interest, in areas like American studies, museums, and science. 

A renovation in 2018 added a large study area, with natural light and new study rooms. 

“It's a beautiful space,” Fairtile said. “The renovation has made it so much nicer because now we have windows on both sides. And then we have a patio outside, which is actually the entrance to the Modlin Center.” 

One of Fairtile’s favorite tasks is to help students find particularly challenging or unusual scores.

“Students will come and say, ‘I'm working on a project, and I need to look at these scores.’ And these musicology books are something that are specific and advanced. I enjoy that, because I'm a musicologist myself ... being able to help students with targeted, focused projects, like their senior theses.”

Fairtile said the library has had to make a number of changes to maintain social distancing during the COVID pandemic, but normally she enjoys a capacity audience of more than 40 students.

“We love to see students or even faculty will come in and say, ‘Gee, I didn't know this place existed,’” she said. “We have a very big collection for a university of this size — I think, the biggest music library in Central Virginia. We're always happy for people to come and use our materials. And when things get better, we want them to come to our space.”