Music Lesson

Last night, I cooked dinner with a friend who is a violinist and music graduate student. During a conversation about her research, she shared with me a book of old music newsletters. We were both amazed at the book’s detailed drawings of Europe’s finest concert halls and most celebrated musicians. But most surprising to me was that this late-19th century collection—written in Italian—came from the UI Rita Benton Music Library.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. I have since learned about the library’s namesake, Rita Benton, considered one of the best music librarians in history. Benton, who enrolled in the UI School of Music in 1951 and managed the University Libraries’ music holdings until her death, served an influential role as a president of the Music Library Association and as the opening lecturer for the Sixth International Congress of the International Association of Music Libraries. She impacted the way libraries around the globe organized their music—a legacy that lives on today.

With a librarian like Benton once in charge of our music stacks, it’s no wonder that the UI Libraries would be home to such hidden treasures as that aged Italian book.

Shelbi Thomas
Associate Editor

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