Music Library & Special Collections

Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts LibraryThe Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center opened in 2000, combining the collections and services of the former Edward Rannells Art Library and the Adelle G. Dailey Music Library. It is also the home of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, a collaboration between the University Libraries and the School of Music.

The music collection consists of about 50,000 books and scores (including a comprehensive collection of monumenta and collected works), 7,000 microforms, and 16,500 sound and video recordings (which are housed in the Media Center section of the Little Library). There are also current periodical subscriptions of over 250 titles.

University of Kentucky On-line Catalogue (Infokat)

Infokat is the combined online catalog for all the UK Libraries. See the University of Kentucky Libraries site for more information.

Alfred Cortot Collection of Musical Treatises

Photograph of a historical manuscriptThe UK Library's Special Collections and Digital Programs (adjacent to the Little Fine Arts Library) houses a collection of over 300 printed musical treatises from the famed library of Alfred Cortot. The collection includes works from the 15th through the 19th centuries, including treatises by Franchino Gaffurio, Gioseffo Zarlino, Thomas Morley, Pedro Cerone, Athanasius Kircher, Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, Johann Mattheson, C.P.E. Bach, and Jean Philippe Rameau.

Old English Songs

A bound collection of approximately 100 early 18th-century manuscript and printed songs and arias, once owned by the famous bass player Domenico Dragonetti, and subsequently by Vicent Novello. The book, housed in UK Library's Special Collections and Digital Programs, includes works by composers such as Henry and Daniel Purcell, John Eccles, John Christopher Pepusch, Thomas Clayton, and Handel.

See a history of the collection, an inventory, and digital images of the contents.

John W. Landon Theatre Organ Archive

The John W. Landon Theatre Organ Archive is comprised of materials donated to the UK Library's Special Collections and Digital Programs by the internationally known theatre organ historian and performer, Dr. John W. Landon.  This collection of materials contains memorabilia, books, periodicals, and approximately 170 audio recordings reflecting a broad range of major theatre organists.  The archive is composed of materials donated by several different individuals, including the three primary collections of H. Clealan Blakely, Lloyd Klos, and John Strader. While the collection is currently uncatalogued or indexed, it is possible to view the contents.  Please contact UK Library Special Collections and Digital Programs for additional information and access.


John Jacob Niles Papers and Photographic Collection

Black and white photograph of John Jacob NilesThe Niles Collection documents the life and career of John Jacob Niles through 65.7 cubic feet of correspondence, diaries, musical and literary manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings, and other materials written or collected by Niles. His compositional output is manifest in thirteen cubic feet of manuscript and published versions of Niles choral works, instrumental pieces, orchestral oratorios, song arrangements, and other musical compositions.  Niles’s collecting activity is represented by diaries and field notebooks that he used to record folk songs, his World War I scrapbooks, autobiographical notes and drafts, original plays, radio scripts, and manuscripts of his published books. There are approximately 164 tapes of Niles performances as well as film and videotapes of three documentaries about his career. There are also material artifacts, including four doors, a table, chairs and dulcimers that were fashioned by Niles.

Glenn C. Wilcox Collection

The Glen C. Wilcox Collection comprises eight-thousand-volumes of American, British, and Scottish sacred tunebooks and hymnals dating from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. The collection includes imprints from all of the major areas of the Eastern Seaboard, specializing particularly in the New England and Middle Atlantic areas, as well as a broad range of Western and Midwestern imprints from the early nineteenth to the twentieth centuries. Significant holdings within the collection include Cotton Mather’s Psalterium Americanum (1718), a rare 1737 Scottish edition of the “Bay” Psalm Book, John Newton’s Olney Hymns (1779), which contains the first printing of the text of “Amazing Grace,” William Walker’s Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1835), and many other works central to understanding the religious and musical history of the United States.

John L. Lair Research Library Collection

John Lair is remembered best as the pioneering force behind the National Barn Dance country music radio (WLS, Chicago) and founder of a Grand Old Opry-style radio program in Renfro Valley, Kentucky. Lair’s collection includes bound and unbound sheet music of piano, guitar, and vocal compositions from Great Britain and the United States (1750-1940), square dance instruction manuals (1880-1940), dance orchestra and silent film orchestral scores and part books (1840-1930), secular choral song books relating to temperance, political, and Masonic subject matter (1795-1920), and sacred tunebooks and hymnals (1780-1940). The collection emphasizes regional musical taste in London and Dublin (1750-1800), Richmond, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland (1795-1830), Louisville, Kentucky (1820-1860), Saint Louis (1840-1870), New Orleans (1845-1870), Milwaukee (1850-1880), Dearborn Michigan (1860-1880), with miscellaneous publications including the earliest music published in Seattle, Washington and Birmingham, Alabama.

Charles F. Faber Recorded Sound Collection

The Faber Collection consists of approximately two thousand vintage hillbilly and country music recordings issued between 1920 and 1950.  As regional folk expression broadened into mass-media disseminated popular music, the narrative stories of the ballads evolved into new personal stories that addressed concerns of a people moving from an agricultural to an urban society.

Woodsongs Archives

​From its origins before an audience of twenty in 1998 to capacity audiences at the historic Lyric Theater in 2015, the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour is now broadcast to over 400 stations in thirty-six countries. The radio show has featured a remarkable array of grass roots American vernacular music, including performers, such as Jean Ritchie, Odetta, Ralph Stanley, Nickel Creek, John Hammond, Mike Seeger, Roger McGuinn, and many others. Recently, the Niles Center acquired the Woodsongs Archives, consisting of approximately 110 boxes containing digital sound materials, posters, scripts, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and photographs and video images. This is also a “living collection.” Because the show continues to produce and air weekly broadcasts, the Niles Center and the UK Library's Special Collections and Digital Programs are committed to insuring that additional shows continue to be added to the archive.

Temple Adath Israel Choral Music Collection

On November 1, 1903, a handful of Jewish Lexington pioneers gathered in the Phoenix Lodge Room on West Short Street to discuss the possibilities of organizing a Temple. One hundred years later, Temple Adath Israel generously donated a collection of their music to the John Jacob Niles Center in order to celebrate its history and preserve its legacy. The collection spanning the years 1896-1974 represents a focused glimpse of American Jewish Reform worship at a single temple. While the contents of the collection have been inventoried, they have not yet been catalogued, but they are available for research.

The T.W. Loftin Collection

In 2008, the Niles Center received the T.W. Loftin Collection as a gift from Kitty Loftin. The collection includes 4- and 7- shape note books, periodicals, and other materials related to shape note hymnody.