The Library Is Alive with the Sound of Music!

This is the first of two guest posts about using music in your courses by W&M Arts Librarian Kathleen DeLaurenti.

When I came to William & Mary two years ago, one of the exciting things about being at a liberal arts college was the way that all the performing arts are part of the curriculum across disciplines. In today’s post, I wanted to share some of the resources that the libraries have to support the use of music in your courses!

Streaming services in 1897 were different from what we have access to today!

Streaming services in 1897 were different from what we have access to today!

Not Your Grandparents’ Streaming Services

There are a few important providers that stream access to music collections at academic libraries. Through Swem, faculty and staff at William and Mary have access to Naxos, a service started by the record company of the same name, and Alexander Street Press. (Here are the links to Naxos and Alexander Street Press that require W&M authentication, but let you into the portion of the sites that subscribers have access to, if you’re a W&M person wanting to check them out.)

In the past, these services have garnered a bit of an unfortunate reputation as providing access to classical music for serious study. However, both companies have continued to secure licenses to grow their catalogs. (And they’re great resources for recreational listening, too!!)


Naxos currently provides access to 84,030 albums and 1,209,750 tracks. Originally built around the core of the Naxos label itself, the streaming service now provides access to EMI Classics, Chandos and a host of others (link behind W&M authentication). While the content in Naxos still skews more towards standard jazz and classical repertoire, there are some great added features like playlists, pronunciation guides (how do you say Messaien?), and glossaries. You can use persistent links to embed tracks into your Blackboard site, or contact me directly to set up playlists for your course!

Alexander Street Press

Music Online from Alexander Street Press is an exciting new addition to our collections! With this new service, we have access to their classical, jazz, world music, and popular music collections. There are as many ways to browse this collection (link behind W&M authentication) as you can think of – check out the collections by ensemble, performer, composer, ethnic group, or even historical events!

Their coverage is much broader, with everything from rapper Pitbull to Stevie Wonder to Maria Callas. Playlists can be created by anyone who registers for an Alexander Street Press (ASP) account. You can also link to external content in your playlists like syllabi, notes, or videos. This summer they plan on rolling out a central gateway to all of their platforms, so you’ll be able to integrate playlists from ASP with film clips from our American History in Video and Ethnographic Film collections!

Students can be assigned to create playlists as part of research assignments and both faculty and student can take advantage of the pre-created playlists like this Motown Playlist created by ASP Staff. Playlists and content are easily embedded in Blackboard and played back on mobile and desktop devices.

The Swem Music Library also has a Large Music Collection

The Swem Music Library in Ewell Hall 250 also has over 7,000 CDs and thousands of LPs that you can use in your courses. We can help digitize content for Blackboard or even work with Swem to put materials on reserve. If you have suggestions for purchase, please let us know!

For some ideas on incorporating music into your classroom, check out this great bibliography put together for a fantastic presentation that Linda Fairtile, Music Librarian at the University of Richmond gave at the Music Library Association in San Jose, CA. I’m happy to talk with anyone about how our collections can better serve your course needs — stop by the Swem table at the Teaching & Technology Expo on April 19 to learn more or contact me directly!

One-click access to all of our music research resources is available at Swem’s music library guide.

Up next, I’ll share some resources beyond the library!