Read about the making of The Priscilla Evans Early Music Library...

The opening of the new Priscilla Evans Early Music Library on November 8, 2002, at the Conservatory on Chebucto Road represents a milestone in the musical life of Halifax. Access to increasingly expensive music scores and parts is one of the major limiting factors of any music making. In the past, Halifax amateur musicians largely depended on privately owned material. After Priscilla Evans' death, her executors were willing to entrust her large music collection to the EMS. But where could it find a home?

Preparations took a lot of time and effort. In the spring of 2002 EMS President Brian Start approached the NS Conservatory's Ifan Williams. We were assigned the use of a small room adjacent to the recital hall. Our library is to be managed with minimal involvement of Conservatory secretarial staff.

The EMS library committee and volunteers met every week in the summer of 2002 to work on the project. Before we could move into "our" room, it needed emptying. This involved removing existing shelves plus contents belonging to the Conservatory - those old LP records are amazingly heavy - and reassembling them in identical order three sets of stairs away. No small feat in the August heat! With both new and recycled material, Brian then built our shelving in record time.

In an empty classroom people were meanwhile sorting and classifying Priscilla's huge stacks of music in banker's boxes under the able direction of "chief librarian" Judy MacLean.

Since the instrument is often unspecified in early music, the box label is usually based on the number of players (as in "quintets"); in special cases the label features the instrument (as in "recorder plus guitar"). Within each box, scores are arranged in alphabetical order by composer. As a final touch, a plaque was ordered for the library wall to commemorate Priscilla Evans and her role in the musical community. The library is for the use of EMS members and Conservatory staff.

Each borrower contributes to the smooth running of the system to a much greater degree than is usual in libraries open to the general public. Please see borrowing instructions. Congratulations to EMS on this achievement! We are indeed lucky to have generous colleagues and members with library background, carpentry talents, muscles, and persistence as well as musical skills.