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Ethel Louise Lyman and the beginnings of the Indiana University Music Library.

In May 1959, on the occasion of the retirement of Ethel Louise Lyman (see fig. 1), the first librarian of the Indiana University School of Music, Library Notes, the University Library's staff newsletter, described the beginnings of the Music Library:

Some years ago there was a small, red, frame building behind what was then called Science Hall. Here in one corner of the building in a room with green blinds drawn against the heat of the day, and flies buzzing against the window panes, there was a small collection of books, somewhat hopefully called the Music Library. There were, of course, music scores housed somewhere in the building, sufficient for purposes of instruction, but records of any kind, either shellac or circulation [sic] were almost non-existent. This dim and musty condition did not augur well for the future of music education at Indiana.

The signs couldn't have been more wrong. Before long a fine new building was constructed with what appeared then to be ample space for the Music Library, and in 1939, a new era was inaugurated with the appointment of Miss Ethel Louise Lyman as Music Librarian. Here she remained until her retirement this year at the end of February, serving well the faculty and students of the School of Music, and others, with her wide knowledge and expert librarianship. (1)

This paper traces the life and work of Ethel Louise Lyman--her time at Indiana University (IU), and prior to that, her years at Smith College, and at Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts. It also looks at the early history of the Indiana University Music Library (since 1996, the William & Gayle Cook Music Library), before Lyman's appointment. With the exception of the biographies of such library luminaries as Charles Ammi Cutter or Melvil Dewey, little has been written about the lives of early American librarians, and especially the lives of women librarians, of whom few were administrators, and consequently not well remembered.

The story of Ethel Louise Lyman is in many ways unremarkable. Even among her music library colleagues there are others who accomplished more, and, at least for specific contributions, are remembered better. The short biographical sketches of pioneering music librarians included in Carol Bradley's book American Music Librarianship attest to this. (2) Included are the notable accomplishments of a dozen music librarians, but nothing on Ethel Louise Lyman. Yet her story is probably that of many women librarians and of many music librarians. She chose a career and remained unmarried, as anecdotal evidence suggests did many female American librarians of her generation and before. She dedicated herself to the promotion and growth of music libraries and music librarianship. She witnessed and perhaps helped create some of the standards of music librarianship that we follow today. She helped shape the collections of several important music libraries, most especially the Indiana University Music Library.


Music instruction at Indiana University began in 1893, and official course credit began to be offered when the Department of Music was inaugurated in 1910 under the direction of Charles Diven Campbell. In 1919, B. Winfred Merrill became head of the department, then located in Mitchell Hall, (3) and when the department was reorganized as the School of Music in 1921, he was named its first dean. Merrill was succeeded as dean in 1938 by Robert L. Sanders, who in turn was followed by Wilfred C. Bain in 1947.

The first talk of a music library at Indiana seems to be from the early 1920s. Among the topics on the agenda of the faculty meeting of 9 December 1924, the minutes report that "The planning of a Music Library was also discussed." (4) Certainly, by 1928 this library was established, and was of sufficient size or importance to be listed as a departmental library in the university's newsletter. (5) Just two years later, the minutes of a faculty meeting on 15 March 1930 reflect that "The need for a larger Library" was discussed; in the minutes of 22 October of the same year, the suggested needs for the following biennium included "Money for chorus music. Cabinets for more adequate caring for music," a "Library of Glee Club Music for Women's voices," and finally, a "Circulating Library." According to Dean Merrill's daughter, Winifred, this library was housed in glass cases in the dean's outer office, and was supervised by his secretary. (6)

By 1936, construction of a new music building on Third Street was under way, and a separate music library was planned to occupy the second floor. In December 1936, moving plans for Christmas recess were announced, and the dean "asked for the return of all books and music to the Library." (7) In an article in the Indiana Daily Student, Dean Merrill announced that the Music Library would loan books under the same regulations that applied to the University Library. (8)

In the coming months, the faculty of the School of Music encountered unanticipated administrative difficulties in adapting to their new building. Edward Birge, the choral conductor, asked in a faculty meeting what could be done about tardiness to classes due to the distance of the Music Building from other buildings on campus (the solution: "classes would have to be shorter or the day longer"). The faculty further decided that "students found marking the new furniture should be required to pay for refinishing." (9)

Regarding the new library, discussions centered around regulations for the checking out and return of books and scores. Recordings were also discussed, but it was determined that they would not be allowed to be removed from the building. In the 16 February 1937 faculty meeting it was suggested that grades be withheld until students return their library books. In another discussion, the faculty considered implementing a library fee for each student or a semester deposit and rental fee. It was suggested that such a fee might cover the cost of replacements, and eventually the salary of a librarian. One year after moving into the new building, many of these issues still were not settled, and once again, the issue of fees was raised. Miss Merrill suggested adopting a deposit of one dollar per year, and a rental fee of five cents for two weeks, with the option of one renewal for an additional five cents. She also described a binding process for music scores that would allow the pages to lie fiat. The faculty minute s of 29 March 1938 continue:

The teachers agreed that the students need to read more music than they can buy. It would be necessary to have a librarian who could help students and take care of the music loaned. The collection should include music for four-hand piano, six-hand, two pianos, etc. This would be in addition to the reference music needed by the teachers in their studios. Mrs. Green moved that information be secured on the types of binding most suitable.

In addition to the desired multipart piano music, the faculty listed among their most outstanding needs an "adequate phonograph and up to date recordings, ... music for ensemble and conducting class," and scores for sight-reading class." Clearly the collections of the Music Library were beginning to grow.

Despite what might seem to us like meager beginnings, and without a qualified librarian, the library of the School of Music had already achieved some measure of prominence. One faculty meeting centered upon a comparison of the Indiana University Music Library to those of other institutions throughout the United States. By comparing Music Library catalog cards with titles in the List of Books on Music published by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), the faculty found that IU came in fourth in the number of starred ("widely useful") titles (Eastman, Oberlin, and Yale coming ahead); sixth in music periodicals; and eleventh in the category "other titles recommended." (10)

There is frequent mention in these early (prelibrarian) faculty meetings of the latest purchases--the complete works of Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, and Palestrina; Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music; recordings of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. (11) The library was run and the works cataloged by a student assistant who reported to the chair of the Library Committee, who was the Professor of Appreciation and History. (12) Collection decisions were made by the dean. Finally, at a faculty meeting of 15 May 1939, Dean Sanders announced that the university had approved his budget for the coming year, including the appointment of a professional music librarian. Ethel Lyman began her duties at Indiana University on 1 July 1939.


Ethel Louise Lyman was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, on 1 December 1893. She was the only child of Elias Cornelius Lyman (1833-1896) and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Mary Smith Lyman (1853-1927 or 1928). Lizzie was Elias's second wife. His first wife, Susan B. Stevens Lyman, presumably died sometime prior to Elias's marriage to Lizzie in 1893; she is buried in the family plot at Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton. The Lyman family was, and is, a prominent one in Northampton, going back to the town's founding. Indeed, this family historically had the most money and influence in town. Yet those who were most prominent in the family during Ethel's lifetime were rather distantly related to her. (13) Her father Elias was a baker or confectioner, and he died on 7 April 1896, when Ethel was only three years old. Ethel's mother, too, was from a prominent family, distantly related to Sophia Smith, the founder of Smith College. After her father died, Ethel and her mother continued to live in the same house, taking in bo arders. Eventually they moved into an apartment in Northampton, and sold off their share of the remaining bakery business. (14)

After graduating from Northampton High School in 1912, Ethel Lyman took what she called a "post-graduate course," specializing in French and German. (15) In 1913 she traveled to Europe, where she studied the history of art, as well as French, German, and Italian. Upon her return from overseas, Lyman enrolled for a year in the Capen School for Girls, where she continued her studies of French, German, and art history.

Her first professional job came in 1914, when she was appointed reference and assistant librarian at the circulation desk at the Clarke Library in Northampton, Massachusetts. The next year, Lyman moved to the other public library in Northampton, the Forbes Library (see fig. 2), where she was named "assistant in charge of the periodicals." (16) Northampton has a rich history for libraries and also for music collections. (17) The Clarke Library was opened in 1874 and served as Northampton's official public library until 1915. In 1893, however, money from Judge Charles Edward Forbes was used to open a second public library, and eventually the two merged, retaining the Forbes name. The Forbes Library is distinguished by having as its first head librarian Charles Ammi Cutter--of Cutter author-table and expansive-classification fame--who took the job in his retirement after a distinguished career at Harvard College and the Boston Athenaeum. He served at Forbes until his death in 1903, so Ethel Lyman never worked un der him, but the influence of his legacy on her was probably strong nonetheless. Certainly, working within the Cutter classification system had some impact on her, as it was also the system she later used at Smith College, and Cutter's method and philosophy of training assistants was continued by the future heads of the Forbes Library. Cutter had called these women his pupil-assistants, and he and his successors took great pride in participating in their training. The pages of the Forbes Library annual reports to its trustees include references to assistants who had been granted leaves in order to attend library school. (18) Those who moved on to more prestigious jobs were lauded for their successes, a mark of distinction for the Forbes Library. Another important influence on Lyman from the Forbes would have been its longstanding and excellent music collection. Cutter reported as early as the annual report of 1895 his intention to collect heavily in music, having already amassed the complete works of Beethove n, Chopin, Mozart, Palestrina, Schubert, Schumann, Schutz, and Strauss.

Following her appointment as overseer of periodicals at Forbes, Lyman advanced a year later to head the Fine Arts Department, including music and art, a post she held until 1922. (19) Her duties in music would likely have included the cataloging of all music materials, as well as creating and maintaining song indexes, annotating entries of collected works, and mounting exhibits. The Forbes annual reports also make mention of the close relationship that this department maintained with local musical clubs and organizations. (20)

The 1922 Forbes annual report notes the resignation of Ethel Lyman in March of that year in order to take the position of music librarian at Smith College. The report states that "Her seven years of service were characterized by graciousness in meeting her constituency and keen interest in her work." Lyman's vita states that she was "invited unanimously by the Music Department to become music librarian of Smith College." She was the first music librarian at Smith College, and her experience at Forbes must have prepared her well for her responsibilities at Smith.

Lyman served as music librarian at Smith College from 1922 to 1938. In the same year that she started at Smith, perhaps during the summer, Lyman enrolled in classes at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. Here she took further courses in library science, while "working" in the music divisions of Harvard's Widener Library, the Boston Public Library, the Brookline Public Library, and the New England Conservatory of Music Library. (21)

At Smith, Lyman counted among her accomplishments, the "organization, systemization, and building up" of the library collection. (22) Under her guidance, all books and scores were fully cataloged, the music catalog was fully revised, and analytics were made for all the monumental sets and several miscellaneous collections. She also invented a special kind of bookend, which she claimed was "so effective, the Music Library of Smith College uses no other support . . . for its music & books." Following the tradition of Forbes Library leaders, Lyman taught the principles and elements of library science and bibliography to a group of Smith College students. She called them her "student librarians" rather than her student assistants.

While at Smith, Lyman took her second trip to Europe in 1929, as a chaperon and tour leader of Smith students. In 1936 she took a one-year sabbatical in order to conduct a survey of some fifty-three music libraries between Washington, D.C., and Oberlin, Ohio. On a third trip to Europe in 1937 Lyman studied the collections of the Bibliotheque nationale de France and the library of the Opera in Paris; the Musiksammlung of the Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna; and the Bibliotheca Mozartiana at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. She made a historical study of Hungarian music and folk song in Budapest with musicologist Bence Szabolcsi. Finally, she conducted research in the municipal library of Budapest and the Hungarian National Museum.

Following her return to the States, Lyman resigned from her position at Smith College in August 1938, ostensibly to continue the survey of U.S. music libraries she began in 1936, and to conduct research at the Library of Congress on the evolution of singing and song literature in preparation for the publishing of a book. (23) No such book was ever produced, and her stay in Washington, D.C., was interrupted by a job offer from Indiana University.

In fact, in the year before Lyman left Smith College, she saw the bulletin for the Indiana University School of Music, which included descriptions of the new music building that had recently been completed. In a letter to Dean Merrill, Lyman states that she would like to become established in the Midwest and would be interested in becoming the music librarian for the new library, should Merrill be interested in offering such a position. (24) The dean's response was encouraging, suggesting that such a position might be available "before long."

Once Lyman returned from Europe and left her job at Smith for Washington, D.C., she again wrote to the dean, this time Dean Sanders, who had just succeeded the retiring Merrill. Since her first letter, Indiana had in fact created a position of music librarian, and Lyman again expressed her interest in being considered for the post. Sanders responded positively about her credentials, but asked her to answer some questions that puzzled him. First, he wondered if she had in fact seen what the salary was for this post, a mere $1,200 a year. Second, he asked why she had left Smith College.

Indeed, the salary was quite low. Some seventeen years earlier, the starting salary for her colleague Barbara Duncan, librarian of the Sibley Music Library at Eastman, had been $2,500. (25) Lyman's own starting salary at Smith in the same year was $1,000, and by the time she left seventeen years later it had increased to $1,900. (26) From the faculty minutes of the Indiana School of Music, we find that the new librarian's salary was equivalent to the sum for two graduate assistants. (27)

Lyman responded to his queries by explaining that she did in fact realize that the salary being offered was beneath her. She explained, "I wrote the American College Bureau in connection with your position that I was worth much more than the stipulated salary, but that salary would not be a first consideration and that the building-up of a new library intrigued me." (28) With regard to the circumstances that led her to leave Smith College, Lyman explained that there was "one person in the department to whose principles I could not subscribe and still maintain my ideals for service. I was too conscientious and too loyal to the College as a whole to make an issue of this."

It is difficult to know exactly who this individual might have been. The music department at Smith was headed by an elected chair, which was rotated every few years; (29) had the chair been the problem, Lyman need only have waited a couple more years until another chair was elected. According to Smith's current music librarian, Marlene Wong, the ties between the music library and the main library were not particularly strong then, so it is not likely to have been a college library administrator that Lyman found objectionable. A constant during Lyman's tenure at Smith, and someone she would have had to work with closely, however, was a woman named Ruth Agnew, who held the position of curator of music.

Agnew has an interesting story, too. She was hired by Smith College in 1923 as a professor of English. (30) Coming with an advanced degree from the University of Toronto, Agnew thought she would be teaching Chaucer, among other upper-level English classes. But to her surprise, she was saddled with mainly freshman writing courses. By 1927 Agnew had been appointed the college's assistant director of publicity (presumably something of a demotion), and by 1931 she was employed as the college's curator of music, and served as the Music Department secretary.

It is not entirely clear what Agnew did as curator of music. One document from the Smith College Archives indicates that she was responsible for maintaining the record collection, maintaining the audio equipment, and occasionally teaching a lower-level music course. Yet a college press release put out at the time of Agnew's retirement in 1965, and among her papers at Smith, describes the duties of the curator of music as being "concerned with maintaining and increasing the music collection of the College." It goes on to say, "Miss Agnew has worked to make the Smith collection one of the most outstanding in the country." This description sounds remarkably like what one might expect of Lyman's own job description as head of Smith's music library, and it is possible that an attempt to provide Ruth Agnew with continued employment at the college might have led to some real friction between these women. What is clear is that Agnew did not report to Lyman, nor to any of the subsequent music librarians with whom she worked, but to the head of the music department just as Lyman had done.

Whatever the reason for leaving Smith College, Lyman was well prepared to take on the responsibilities of running the music library at Indiana. She had distinguished herself at Smith and had accumulated an exceptional amount of experience. While Lyman did not hold a college degree, this seems not to have deterred her in any way. In a report on the Indiana University Library undertaken by the American Library Association in 1940, Lyman is described (though not by name) as the departmental librarian who is "not a college graduate, but is amply qualified by limited formal college work supplemented by extensive informal education in her subject field and by many years of appropriate experience." (31)


Ethel Lyman was involved in a variety of professional organizations, including the American Library Association (ALA), the Special Libraries Association (SLA), the Ohio Valley Regional Catalogers Association, and the Music Library Association (MLA). Her strongest involvement was with MLA, of which she was a founding member in 1931, and especially its Midwest Chapter, for which she served as chair from 1949 to 1951. Among the other founding members of MLA, there are many whose influence on the field has been especially strong. Among those in attendance at the first meeting in New Haven were Richard Appel, from Boston Public Library; Barbara Duncan, from the Sibley Music Library; Eva Judd O'Meara, of Yale; Otto Kinkeldey, from Cornell; Carleton Sprague Smith, New York Public Library; and Oliver Strunk, music librarian at the Library of Congress. (32)

Lyman hosted the association's 1937 meeting at Smith College with twenty-five members present. Discussed at this meeting were topics including cataloging and classification of sound recordings; microfilm reproduction; progress on the "code for cataloguing music"; and the establishment of an employment bureau for music librarians. Lyman also gave a talk on her most recent European trip. (33)

In 1940, Lyman convened a meeting of music librarians at the Special Libraries Association conference in Cincinnati. (34) The topics discussed at this meeting included the formation of cooperative bibliography projects among libraries; classification systems for music; special considerations for the classification, shelving, and care of choral music collections; the use of vertical files; a proposal to the H. W. Wilson Company to produce "a complete index [of music periodicals] for the last five years, if an index covering a more extensive period should be impractical at this time" (the proposal bore no fruit); and phonograph record collections. On this last subject, Lyman was adamant that record collections should be classified. "Classification," she said, "saves time and labor, and makes it unnecessary to consult the catalogue for each record required." She referred to the classification system she devised while at Smith College. This was a Cutter-based filing system, and is in use at Smith to this day. Lym an did pen two articles on the classification and care of phonograph records, though it was another article written by Philip Miller in the same year, 1937, that would later become the basis for MLA's Code for Cataloging Phonograph Records. (35)

Lyman seems to have had very strong opinions about classification. At the 1948 Detroit meeting of the Music Library Association, she "expressed the unqualified hope that when new libraries came to classify their collections they would use the Library of Congress system of classification." (36) She pointed out that when MLA was founded, one focus of its agenda was to persuade the Library of Congress to catalog more music, and indeed the association had been successful in making headway in this area.

Two years later, at the 1950 San Francisco meeting, Lyman again put in a plug for LC classification. The report of the MLA Classification Committee was read at this meeting, and to her surprise the committee suggested use of the so-called "Vassar-Columbia" system of score classification. She questioned why the committee did not concentrate on LC, since, as she indicated, the Library of Congress was producing more and more useful cards. While one member of the committee suggested that the LC system was not applicable to small or medium-sized libraries, Lyman felt that abandoning the Library of Congress and also the Dewey systems for a third one was a mistake. Her motion, that the committee concentrate on LC only, was defeated. A similar motion, however, that the committee be discouraged from abandoning LC and Dewey, carried. (37)

At the Cleveland meeting the following July, the topic of Library of Congress subject headings for music was raised. Lyman apparently was not able to attend this meeting, but sent a letter to be read in her stead, and printed in the supplement to Notes. (38)

I feel one of the most important projects for us and one which would benefit the largest number of libraries is the publication of Music Subject Headings. This project has been worked on for such a long time, LC has made such strides in establishing excellent subject headings on its cards, the LC Subject Headings for all subjects have begun to be published (this is not adequate for the Music Library since our subjects are merged with all others) and still we have no publication! There is a crying need for a separate list of Music Subject Headings.

For several years I have made my own authority cards for subject headings which appear on the LC proof sheets whether our Library possessed the music or not. This has been laborious and time-consuming. However, in lieu of a published list, this has been found to be most valuable. People cataloging in those subject fields which have published Subject Headings cannot fully understand that this lack of a published list for music causes a handicap.

Will you make the following an A-one point on your agenda, bring it up to a definite vote, and if a list cannot be printed at once, a partial list of uncontroversial subject headings be mimeographed for purchase?

I move (in absentia) that LC Subject Headings for Music (those already appearing on the latest LC cards) be printed or mimeographed as the appropriation allows and that means for doing so be voted by the Music Library Association at the present session so that copies may be available for purchase in the near future.

Very sincerely, yours,

Ethel Louise Lymon [sic]

Music Librarian

Chairman, Midwest Chapter

Music Library Association.

For all of Lyman's bravado, it seems that the very lists she was requesting were at that moment at the printers, and were to become available to music librarians in the very near future.

Lyman's involvement in MLA seems to have been fairly constant, though she did not hold any offices on the executive committee, (39) and her name appears in meeting minutes somewhat less frequently with regard to issues other than classification and subject headings. She attended most of the national meetings during her professional career. Just as she had invited the association to hold its annual meeting at Smith College in 1937, she also extended an invitation to come to Bloomington in 1951. While this did not come to pass, the annual Midwest Chapter meeting in 1950 did take place on the IU campus. (40)


As must have occurred with the Forbes and Smith collections, the IU music collections grew rapidly and steadily under Lyman's leadership. For instance, in 1937-38, prior to Lyman's arrival, $467.50 was spent from the University Libraries' "regular" budget on Music Library purchases, and $287.50 was spent from the so-called "special" budget. (41) In just three years the total spent had increased substantially, now $500 from the regular budget and $3,450 from the special budget. (42)

In 1942, the Music Library reported holdings of 6,915 books, 9,880 musical scores, and 2,920 sound recordings. The collection certainly improved during Lyman's tenure. In 1953, she reported that the library had increased its holdings in contemporary music, musicological works, and vocal and orchestral scores of operas. (43) By 1958, the final year that Ethel Lyman completed an annual report, she reported 44,567 books and bound periodicals, 137,840 scores, and 15,000 sound recordings. (44)

In Lyman's mind, at least, the IU Music Library was quite significant. In 1953, the library was asked to contribute to the International Inventory of Musical Sources (RISM), the worldwide bibliographical project initiated in 1952 by several international musical organizations, and funded by UNESCO. As Ethel Lyman was quick to point out in announcing this, "only those libraries with the most important musical holdings have been invited to participate." (45) When asked by a graduate student if it was the "best" music library in the country, Lyman responded that "the Music Library of the Library of Congress was the best, but as far as college or unit libraries, the Sibley Library of the Eastman School of Music is the best," but, as she indicates, only because it was begun eighteen years before Indiana's, and had had more time to grow. (46) There were other significant differences than simply lead time between Indiana's and Eastman's collections as well. When Barbara Duncan was hired to run the Sibley Music Libra ry, she was expressly given the task of seeking out rare materials, and she made frequent buying trips to Europe. Duncan was also sent to study the collections and operations of both the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress before arriving in Rochester. (47) Lyman apparently had similar plans in mind for IU's library, suggesting when she was hired that she remain for the first few months of her appointment in Washington, D.C., "getting concrete data from the Library of Congress, which will be valuable for the needs, problems and future growth of your library." (48) The dean's needs and problems, however, were far more utilitarian: "Your presence here is needed to keep an eye on the collection during the remainder of the summer session." He suggested that all of her plans might be carried out over time and from a distance. (49)

It is difficult to evaluate the growth of a library's collection from archival sources. Documents range from detailed lists of Lyman's purchases in some years, to infrequent mentions in faculty minutes of individual purchases in others. The following acquisitions are mentioned in Library Notes, and perhaps give us an idea of some of the more interesting or noteworthy acquisitions during Lyman's tenure. In 1948, the Music Library seems to have obtained its first set of microfilms--117 of them all at once. (50) Presumably they also received a microfilm reader at this time; in later years, the readers multiplied to two, and had their own viewing room within the library. (51) In the same year, the library received a substantial donation of multiple copies of "light opera vocal works," (52) whose legacy can be seen today in the library's multiple copies of such works as Victor Herbert's Naughty Marietta (six copies) and Oscar Straus's The Chocolate Soldier (thirteen copies).

Other significant gifts to the library included a large private collection of string music donated by then state representative John W. Wainwright, (53) $400 worth of new music for use in the new doctoral string program, (54) and an autographed score of Romanian composer Georges Enesco's Octet for Strings, performed at IU by the Berkshire and Walden String Quartets, conducted by the composer. (55)


Enesco was only one of many distinguished persons to visit the Music Library and meet Ethel Lyman. The Metropolitan Opera Company of New York staged annual performances at the IU Auditorium between 1946 and 1960. (56) Often the soloists would visit the library, where they would autograph pictures, and find elaborate displays of plot synopses, librettos, scores, and sound recordings--all of the very operas that were being performed on their tours (see fig. 3). Lyman described one of her displays and the evening of musicmaking that accompanied it:

The Metropolitan Opera Company performs one opera an evening, but in the Music Library Friday evening, April 23, we gave two operas. The occasion was a meeting of the Faculty Women's Club, Music Study group. We were so fortunate as to secure the services of our Mine. Dorothee Manski and Dr. Paul Nettl for the talks on Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and Mozart's Don Giovanni, respectively. As you know, these are the two operas to be performed by the Metropolitan in the Auditorium May 3 and 4. Tables were removed, about sixty chairs were placed in rows, a piano and our best listening machine were brought in for illustrations. Two displays were arranged on large tables, these displays consisting of libretti, plots of the operas, photographs, music scores and the complete recordings of the operas. These displays may be viewed and studied until after the Metropolitan Opera performance. (57)

The newsletter Library Notes describes many of Lyman's displays over the years, and it is clear that this undertaking was a labor of love for her. She was asked in 1954 by IU's president, Herman B Wells, to mount a display in East Hall for the governing board of the International Association of Universities. (58) In the same year, she was asked by Dean Bain to be hostess to a tea in the dean's office for composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, then eighty-two years old. (39) Other visitors to the Music Library included members of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and Tibor Kozma, a conductor of the Metropolitan Opera (and later a member of the school's faculty). Lyman corresponded briefly with author Thomas Mann after the many musical allusions in his novel Doctor Faustus were discussed at a recent conference of the American Musicological Society. (60)


An issue that seems to plague every library and librarian at one time or another is inadequate space, and Lyman had her share of trials with overcrowded stacks. When the Music Building on Third Street opened in 1937, the library on the second floor was more than adequate for the needs of the School of Music, comprising a general stacks area and a reserve room. (61) With the exception of the record collection, which was housed in a case in one of the classrooms, (62) it seems that all parts of the library resided on the second floor for several years, including listening facilities (see fig. 4). (63)

By 1949, discussion of inadequate space had begun, and subsequent complaints are frequent. In spring of that year, Lyman reports in Library Notes about the problem, and its solution:

The Music Library was about to burst its seams! With the recent acquisition of the complete bound files of many music periodicals and the complete works of several musicians, in addition to those already owned, as well as many new books and music scores... Lebensraum! might have been our cry.

Instead we appealed to Dr. Miller and Dr. Byrd [assistant dean and dean of libraries, respectively], and with the fine cooperation of Dean Bain, we have been able to have an added room for the housing and servicing of certain categories. We call this room the Music Library Annex. It is thirty-seven feet long by nineteen feet wide. In it we have all our phonograph records, choral music, orchestra library (including chamber orchestra), duplicates for class work, and some unbound orchestra program notes....

The library Annex has a full-time Library assistant. It is open at 8:20 in the morning, and closes at 4:40 in the afternoon. Records are taken to the listening rooms in the Music Building at any time during these hours. Those who wish to play records in the building evenings or Saturday or Sunday afternoons, may have them signed out and placed on special reserve in the Music Library on the second floor. (64)

We know from later reports that the Music Library Annex was located on the ground floor in a space that later was called the Record Library. It was situated on the west side of the building, with the choral and orchestral holdings to the east. (65)

A year later, space was once again a topic of discussion, this time among members of the School of Music faculty, and the assistant dean of libraries, Robert Miller. The occasion of this meeting was to discuss the coming construction of the new Main Library building. The entire meeting is outlined in the School of Music faculty meeting minutes, and it is worth quoting at length. The players include Assistant Dean of Libraries Robert Miller, Dean Bain, Professor of Musicology Paul Nettl, Assistant Professor of Musicology Ralph Daniel, Professor of Music Education Newell Long, and Ethel Lyman:

Mr. Miller explained that there would be no place for a music library in the proposed new [Main Library] building. He believed the Music Library is in close touch with its undergraduate students.... Stack area serves graduate facilities very well but undergraduate students are not served well. Do you have any suggestions or dissatisfactions with our present service?

Suggestions were offered as follows:

Miss Lyman: I would suggest utilitarian construction instead of from the point of view of architectural design only. Windows are important, study space should be adequate. Plan for the next 50 years and then ask for four times that much.

Dean Bain: We cannot plan on a new music building and we need more space now. We cannot give any more space to the library in this building. We have no more studio space and no more office space available.

Mr. Miller asked if there are any dissatisfactions with the Music Library?

Dean Bain said: No adequate space for graduate students. 20 Ph.D. and 80 Master's for anywhere from 35-50% of their course work. No place for concentrated work. We will need space for individual study, in the new library. We have no space for listening to records.

Mr. Nettl asked: Would graduate students use the books of the Music Library in the Main Library? Music books should be concentrated in the Music Library.

Mr. Daniel suggested: It's not too impractical to move monumental sets and books over to new building. If it's close by, keep records and scores here?

Miss Lyman objected that books are used constantly by people listening to records.

Dean Bain said: A small auditorium is highly desirable for lectures with a projection booth for audiovisual aids.

Mr. Long said: Miniature scores for orchestration class were difficult to find; the records are broken or have not been ordered.

Miss Lyman said: Miniature scores are in the Library Annex.... (66)

The Music Library, however, did not move in whole or in part to the Main Library, but was able to install more bookcases, and received a "thorough face-lifting" of new paint just a couple of months later. (67) A year and a half afterwards, in December 1951, Library Notes reports that the Music Library had received more steel stacks. This seemed to have done the job, at least for a few more years, and in 1954, the entire second-floor library was shifted to again make room for the growing collection. (68)

Finally, when an addition to the Music Building was proposed, the library saw some relief, and the dean announced that the Music Library would expand across the front half of the second floor. (69) One final shift in 1958, and the addition of steel double-sided stacks, took place before Lyman's retirement, though it would be more than a decade before the library finally moved into new quarters. (70)

As a side note, while the Record Library, and even the Music Library Annex with its choral and orchestral holdings, was never administratively under the direction of Ethel Lyman, it was considered by the University Library in its annual counts of circulation and holdings. Indeed, Ethel Lyman's presence there was undoubtedly strong, as she cataloged and classified the entire collection. (71)


It is clear that Ethel Louise Lyman was a unique individual. She has been described by those who knew her as the stereotypical librarian, "down to the shoes," as Dominique-Rene De Lerma, one of her successors at IU, put it, and "spending a certain amount of her time keeping students quiet, and speaking always in a studiedly soft tone," according to musicologist Bruno Nettl. (72) Former dean Charles Webb, who came to IU as a student the year before Ethel Lyman retired, has characterized her personality as "'lavender and roses,' a person who was steeped in tradition and who lived a quiet, mostly uneventful life." (73) She was also thought to be "fierce," or "formidable," "not overly approachable," and one student assistant who went on to become a librarian says he did so, in part, to be a better, more approachable librarian than Ethel Lyman had been. (74) One image that has been handed down to many in the IU community is of her trailing behind German musicologist Willi Apel attempting to catch his cigar ashes b efore they fell into the card catalog drawers. (75) She also had to run after him and jot down the names of the books he was taking, as he did not seem to think he needed to check them out. (76) Imagine her quiet indignation.

Many who knew Lyman late in her life did not know that she had once sung. Indeed, she seems to have been extremely proud of her abilities at one time. In 1923, Lyman undertook vocal studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and made, as one would expect, "an intensive study of the Sibley Musical Library" at Eastman. (77) She is known to have sung frequently (perhaps even too frequently) at MLA meetings, and performed recitals of art songs and folk songs both in Northampton and in her earliest years at IU. (78) While music librarian at Smith, Lyman had the good fortune of singing in two historic performances of early opera under the direction of Werner Josten. While not having a lead part in either (though her vita claims she had leading soprano roles!), she did perform in the American and twentieth-century premieres of Monteverdi's Orfeo and Handel's Julius Caesar as well as in several Gilbert and Sullivan operettas also produced at the college (see fig. 5). (79) In her professional vita, she stated that "She made it a point, however, to keep these two fields [librarianship and performing] entirely separate." She goes on to say, "This branch of activity is mentioned to show that Miss Lyman is a musician as well as a music librarian (an almost necessary, but often omitted, accompaniment)." Clearly she was quite proud of her abilities, and yet, in her years at IU, she always demurred when asked by musicologist Paul Nettl to sing in his classes, which she frequently audited. (80)

Lyman was also a deeply religious woman, belonging to the historic First Church in Northampton, and later the First Presbyterian Church in Bloomington. Her pastor from Bloomington remembers that "she was a regular in morning worship and participated in the various gatherings of the women of the church. ... I think her spirituality and communal perspective flowed out of her love of music. It enabled her to identify with the best of human aspirations and in a kind of romantic vicariousness, she found her life to be both satisfying and worthwhile." (81)

Her character was complex. She could be both stern and girlish, even in her later years. She was certainly humble about her abilities and did not push personal agendas. She dressed properly, and had a pronounced and clipped manner of speaking. Some have commented that they knew she had come from money by the way she dressed and presented herself. Yet she was also very frugal. It is rumored that when given two complimentary season tickets to the Indiana University Opera Theater each year, she would routinely sell one and pocket the change. She lived in a small efficiency apartment (comprising a living room with rollaway bed, dinette, kitchenette, and bathroom) for her entire time in Bloomington, and owned little more than a writing desk, a few pieces of furniture, her beloved grand piano, and her silverware (kept in the bottom desk drawer). (82)


Ethel Lyman retired in 1959. Mention is made of her approaching retirement in the School of Music faculty minutes of 16 February 1959, in which Dean Bain "Expressed to Miss Lyman appreciation for her fine service as the first and only Librarian that the School of Music has ever had." The University Libraries held a special tea in her honor, and lovingly announced her retirement in the pages of Library Notes, the staff newsletter that she had contributed to so frequently in the past. (83) Dean Bain gave her a transistor radio. (84) She was succeeded in the Music Library by the musicologist Carol MacClintock, who held the post for less than one year.

Shortly following her retirement, Lyman was appointed professional consultant to the music library at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Making frequent trips to that campus, her charge was to build up a scholarly musicological collection, including the latest in phonograph records, listening rooms, microfilms, microcards, and microform readers. (85)

She continued to make her home in Bloomington, though she took up residence in a nursing home a couple of years before passing away in Martinsville, Indiana, in 1974 at the age of eighty. She divided her estate, some $655,000 after taxes, five ways. One-fifth went to her best friend and executrix of her will, Lucy Carmichael. One-fifth went to the Music Department at Smith College. One-fifth went to her former church in Northampton, the First Congregational (whose parish hall has now been renamed Lyman Hall). One-fifth went to the First Presbyterian Church in Bloomington (it also having a Lyman Hall). One-fifth went to the Indiana University Music Library, in the name of the Ethel Louise Lyman Memorial Fund, for the acquisition of music scores. She also left her grand piano, books, and recordings to the School of Music. (86)

(1.) Indiana University Libraries, Library Notes 11 (May 1959): 1-2.

(2.) Carol June Bradley, American Music Librarianship: A Biographical and Historical Survey (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990).

(3.) Mitchell Hall was used for band and choral practice beginning in 1906; all music instruction moved to the building in 1918. For more on the history of Mitchell Hall, see Delores M. Lahrman and Delbert C. Miller, The History of Mitchell Hall. 1885-1986: The Literary Building, Birthplace of the Music and Arts Departments at Indiana University (Bloomington: Indiana University Archives, 1986).

(4.) Indiana University School of Music, Faculty Minutes, 9 December 1924, william & Gayle Cook Music Library.

(5.) "Guide to the Library of Indiana University," Indiana University News Letter 14 (October 1928): 1, as cited in Mildred Hawksworth Lowell, "Indiana University Libraries, 1829-1942" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1957), 348.

(6.) Interview with Winifred Merrill, 10 March 1955, cited in Lowell, 348.

(7.) Faculty Minutes, 16 December 1936.

(8.) B. Winfred Merrill, "Music Students, Faculty Move Into New Building," Indiana Daily Student, 6 January 1937.

(9.) The operational issues related here occupied the faculty for more than a year, as recorded in the faculty minutes of 16 February 1937, 16 March 1937, 18 May 1937, 29 March 1938, and 24 May 1938.

(10.) Faculty Minutes, 26 October 1937, discussing the National Association of Schools of Music, List of Rooks on Music, Bulletin of the National Association of Schools of Music, 3 (n.p.: the Association, 1935), and its First Supplement, Bulletin of the NASM, 6 (1936). It is not clear how the holdings of other institutions were determined, Interestingly, while the cook Music Library today owns supplements nos. 2-10 (1939-57) of NASM's List of Books on Music, some containing Ethel Lyman's annotations, the original volume and first supplement that were used for the 1937 collection evaluation did not find their way into the library's collection.

(11.) Faculty Minutes, 19 December 1938.

(12.) Ibid., 15 September 1938.

(13.) Lyman Coleman, Genealogy of the Lyman Family in Great Britain and America: The Ancestors and Descendants of Richard Lyman, from High Ongar in England, 1631 (Albany, N.Y.: J. Munsell, 1872; reprint, Boston: New England Genealogical Society, 1986); and Margaret S. Lyman. Supplement to the Genealogy of the Lyman Family (Middlefield, Conn.: The author, 1995).

(14.) Northampton and Easthampton Directory (Northampton, Mass.: Price and Lee, 1921), and County of Hampshire Probate Court records.

(15.) Information about Lyman's early education and work history is from her vita, originally in the personnel files of the Indiana University Libraries, and now among her papers in the William & Gayle cook Music Library, Indiana University.

(16.) Forbes Library, Northampton, Mass., Annual Report, 1915.

(17.) See, for instance, Joseph L. Harrison, Forbes Library: The Half Century, 1894-1944 (Northampton, Mass.: Printed for the Forbes Trustees, 1945): Allison Lockwood, No Ordinary Man Judge Forbes and His Library: Forbes Library. 1894-1994 (Northampton, Mass.: Daily Hampshire Gazette. 1994); and Lawrence E. Wikander, Disposed to Learn: The First Seventy-Five Years of the Forbes Library (Northampton, Mass.: Trustees of the Forbes Library, 1972).

(18.) Forbes Library, Northampton, Mass., Annual Report, 1915, for instance.

(19.) Lyman vita. While working at Forbes Library, Lyman enrolled in Massachusetts State college in Amherst, taking a course in library science. Doctors would not allow her to take a complete academic load, as she had suffered from rheumatic fever for years, and was required to guard against a recurrence.

(20.) For instance, in the annual report of 1912.

(21.) I do not believe she was actually employed by these institutions, but rather that her description of "working" might be more along the lines of visiting the libraries, studying their operations, and perhaps conducting research using their collections.

(22.) The account here of Lyman's professional activities while at Smith college is based on her vita.

(23.) Lyman vita.

(24.) Letter from Lyman to Merrill, 14 May 1938, in Lyman Papers, Indiana University Archives. The negotiations described here between Lyman and deans Merrill and Sanders continued in letters now in the IU Archives: Merrill to Lyman, 18 May 1938; Lyman to Sanders, 10 June 1939; Sanders to Lyman, 14 June 1939; Lyman to Sanders, 15 June 1939.

(25.) Letter from Donald Gilchrist, University Librarian at Rochester, to Duncan, 1 April 1922, in Duncan Papers, Sibley Music Library Archives, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.

(26.) From Lyman Papers, Smith college Archives.

(27.) Faculty Minutes, 15 May 1939.

(28.) Lyman to Sanders, 15 June 1939. The American College Bureau in Chicago, Illinois, provided personnel services for colleges and universities, and those seeking employment in them.

(29.) Personal interview with Marlene Wong, 23 August 2001.

(30.) Information about Ruth Agnew is from her papers, in the Smith College Archives.

(31.) Donald Coney et al., Report of a Survey of the Indiana University Library for the Indiana University, February-July. 1940 (Chicago: American Library Association, 1940), 135. continuing her education after coming to Indiana University, Lyman took summer courses in library administration at Columbia University. There she also studied the history of opera under Paul Henry Lang, and sixteenth-century music with Alfred Einstein.

(32.) Music Library Association, minutes of the meeting of 27 June 1931, in the Music Library Association Archives, University of Maryland, Performing Arts Library, College Park.

(33.) MLA minutes, 19 November 1937.

(34.) "Meeting arranged for those interested in Music Library problems," Notes [ser. 1] 8 (August 1940): 64-65.

(35.) Ethel Louise Lyman, "Arrangement and care of Phonograph Records," Library Journal 62 (1937): 150-54; and Lyman, "How to Systematize a collection of Phonograph Records," Musical Mercury 4 (April 1937): 16-20. These are Lyman's only known publications. See also Philip Miller, "Cataloguing and Filing of Phonograph Records," Library Journal 62 (July 1937): 544-46; and Music Library Association, Code for Cataloging Phonograph Records (Washington, D.C.: the Association, 1942).

(36.) Notes: Supplement for Members 3 (March 1948): 17. She reiterated this position as the December 1948 meeting in Chicago; see Notes: Supplement 6/7 (December/March 1944): 17. At the Detroit meeting in January, Lyman also suggested that a system for counting and distinguishing between numbers of titles and numbers of copies in a given collection be devised so that collections could be more accurately compared.

(37.) Notes: Supplement 11 (March 1950): 3-4, 15.

(38.) Ibid., 13 (September 1950): 10-11.

(39.) In addition to her two years as chair of the Midwest Chapter of MLA, Lyman was briefly chair of the national organization's Membership Committee in 1942.

(40.) Notes: Supplement 11 (March 1950): 14-15.

(41.) Indiana University Libraries, Annual Report. 1937-38, Indiana University Archives.

(42.) Ibid., 1940-41.

(43.) Library Notes 6 (April-May 1953): 6.

(44.) Music Library, Annual Report. 1958, William & Gayle Cook Music Library, Indiana University.

(45.) Library Notes 7 (September 1953): 1.

(46.) Ibid., 5 (December 1951): [6].

(47.) Duncan's collection-building activities are described by Louise Goldberg and Charles Lindahl in Gathering the Sources: A Case History," in Modern Music Librarianship: Essays in Honor of Ruth Watanabe, ed. Alfred Mann, Festschrift Series, 8 (Stuyvesant, N.Y.: Pendragon Press, 1989), 3-26.

(48.) Letter from Lyman to Sanders, 25 June 1939, Lyman Papers, Indiana University Archives.

(49.) Letter from Sanders to Lyman, 29 June 1939, Indiana University Archives.

(50.) Library Notes 1 (May 1948): [3].

(51.) Indiana University Bulletin: School of Music. 1955-56 (Bloomington: University Office), 14-15.

(52.) Library Notes 1 (June 1948): 86. These included The Red Mill. The Student Prince, The Chocolate Soldier, New Moon, Desert Song, Bitter-Sweet, Rose Marie. Naughty Marietta, Countess Maritza, and many others.

(53.) Library Notes 10 (March 1957): 3. This gift consisted of "scores and arrangements for solo, quartet, and ensemble performances of violin, cello, woodwinds, and piano," according to an undated newspaper clipping, "Legislator Gives University Portion Of Music Library," in the Lyman Papers, Indiana University Archives.

(54.) Library Notes 7 (February-March 1954): 2.

(55.) Ibid., 3 (May 1950): 1.

(56.) George Logan, The Indiana University School of Music: A History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 114-16.

(57.) Library Notes 1 (May 1948): 2. Dorothee Manski taught voice at IU, 1935-55; Paul Nettl was on the musicology faculty, 1946-64.

(58.) Ibid., 8 [late 1954]: 5.

(59.) Ibid.: 6.

(60.) Ibid., 2 (February-April 1952): 7.

(61.) "Music Students, Faculty Move Into New Building," Indiana Daily Student.

(62.) Library Notes 6 (December 1952): 4.

(63.) Ibid.: "This arrangement was found to be entirely impractical since those doing intensive study were in close proximity to the listening groups"; Faculty Minutes, 14 October 1947: "Miss Lyman announced that record players are not to be removed from the rooms where they are, nor from the tables on which they are resting."

(64.) Library Notes 2 (February-April 1949): 5.

(65.) Ibid., 6 (December 1952): 4. See also Faculty Minutes, 2 December 1952, for a mention of the new "Listening Laboratory," and the smoking policies associated with it.

(66.) Faculty Minutes, 24 March 1950.

(67.) Library Notes 3 (May 1950): 4.

(68.) Ibid., 7 (February-March 1954): 2.

(69.) Faculty Minutes, 19 November 1953.

(70.) Library Notes 11 (June 1958): 6. Also, a building called the choral Annex ("southwest of the Men's Gymnasium") temporarily held the collections of choral anti orchestral music in the late 1950s and early 1960s. See Indiana University Bulletin: School of Music, 1958-59 through 1960-61.

(71.) Library Notes 6 (December 1952): 4. According to the faculty minutes of 19 November 1953, purchases for the Record Library were funneled through musicology professor Ralph Daniel, not Lyman. Today, all purchase and rental of music and recordings is done by librarians and staff of the cook Music Library.

(72.) Author's correspondence with Dominique-Rene De Lerma, 15 February 2000, and with Bruno Nettl, 20 June 2001.

(73.) Correspondence with Charles Webb, 1 June 2001.

(74.) Telephone interview with Julius Chitwood, 9 July 2001.

(75.) Correspondence with Dominique-Rene De Lerma, 2 August 2001.

(76.) Correspondence with Leonard Phillips, 26 Ju1y 2001.

(77.) Lyman vita.

(78.) One undated newspaper clipping from her file in the Smith College Archives announces Lyman's performances of Hungarian folk songs in "a costume which she purchased in Hungary from the peasant who made it." A 1940 recital by Lyman, documented among the Indiana University School of Music printed programs, and that aired on Bloomington's WIRE radio, lists works by Handel, Purcell, Schubert, and Liszt. From the Indiana Daily Student. 18 October 1940: "Miss Ethel Louise Lyman. soprano and music librarian, will sing four of Stephen Foster's selections at a meeting of the Music Group of the Dames club."

(79.) The Monteverdi and Handel productions are documented in Baroque Opera at Smith College, 1926-1931: Record of a Pioneer Venture in Music: Monteverdi and Handel Operas as Performed Under the Direction of Werner Josten (New York: n.p., 1966). Lyman appeared as the shepherd in the divertissement. "The Faithful Shepherd" by Rameau that was interpolated into Julius Caesar, and as a nymph in Orfeo.

(80.) Telephone interview with Julius Chitwood, 9 July 2001.

(81.) Correspondence with the Reverend Paul R. Miller. 4 August 2001.

(82.) Letter from Ethel Louise Lyman to Miss Vera Norton, secretary to the dean, 25 June 1939, in Lyman Papers, Indiana University Archives; and Last Will and Testament of Ethel Louise Lyman, Lyman Papers, William & Gayle Cook Music Library, Indiana University.

(83.) Library Notes 11 (May1959): 1-2.

(84.) Memo from Bain to School of Music faculty and staff, 12 February 1959, in Lyman Papers, Indiana University Archives.

(85.) Library Notes 13 (March 1962): [6-7].

(86.) Last Will and Testament; and Indiana University School of Music publicity, released 4 March 1976.

John F. Anderies is music librarian at Haverford College. In addition to those individuals who kindly agreed to be interviewed, the author would like to thank the following librarians and archivists, whose assistance to my research was invaluable: Bradley Cook and Dina Kellams from Indiana University, Nanci Young and Marlene Wong from Smith College, Elise Bernier-Feeley from Forbes Library, and Bonnie Jo Dopp from the MLA Archives, University of Maryland.
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Title Annotation:Biography
Author:Anderies, John F.
Geographic Code:1U3IN
Date:Dec 1, 2002
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