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Library History

THE GORNO MEMORIAL MUSIC LIBRARY

For sixty years, the Gorno Memorial Music Library has served the research and instructional needs of the students and faculty of the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Two separate private institutions—the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (founded in 1867) and the College of Music of Cincinnati (founded in 1878)—merged in 1955 to form the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In 1961 the school was absorbed by the University of Cincinnati, a municipal institution. The University became a state-affiliated institution in 1968, and in 1978, a full state university.

The Gorno Memorial Library was named after Dr. Albino Gorno (1859-1944), professor of piano and a highly-regarded accompanist who also served as Dean of the College of Music of Cincinnati. Born near Cremona, Italy, he was selected in 1881 by the renowned opera singer Adelina Patti to serve as her accompanist on a five-month tour of the United States. The following year, he was engaged by the College of Music as principal of its piano department. Of the 62 years that he was a faculty member at the College, 40 were spent as its dean. His brothers Romeo and Giacinto were also faculty members at the College, as a piano professor and a vocal instructor, respectively.

The Gorno Memorial Library of the College of Music was dedicated May 31, 1949. There is no record of the size of the Library, but from evidence in the current collection, it consisted primarily of basic materials, often obtained through donations by local citizens. After the 1955 merger of the College and the Conservatory, contemporary photos show that a library existed, along with modest record-listening facilities.

Serious collection development in the Library began in the late 1960s, after a permanent building for the College-Conservatory had been constructed on the University campus. A small library facility was provided on two floors in the former Mary Emery Hall. At that time, the collection consisted of 4,500 cataloged items (books, scores, recordings, microfilms). During the 1960s and 1970s, however, the collection underwent tremendous growth and by 1983 the Library had outgrown its space in Mary Emery Hall. Fortunately, space had just become available on the fourth floor in the adjacent building, the Carl Blegen Library. Blegen Library served as the main campus library from 1930 to 1978, at which time it was renovated to house several departmental libraries. The move to the Blegen Library saw the installation of a state-of-the-art audio playback system where library staff  handled the fragile LP records for patrons in order to minimize wear and tear and could connect any audio source to any listening carrel. Shortly after its installation, playback equipment for compact discs was added. This audio system, designed and installed by American Audio Systems of Madison, Wisconsin, was inspected by music librarians from all over the United States, many of whom consequently installed similar audio systems at their institutions. In 1997 twelve computer workstations were added (with MIDI keyboards), providing access to the internet as well as music composition, ear training, and choreography software.

The Gorno Library existed in on the fourth floor of the Blegen Library from 1983 to 2009.  In January 2010, the Library celebrated its 60th anniversary by opening in beautiful new quarters on the sixth floor of the Blegen Library building. The main reading room recaptures the grandeur of the original 1930 library building with its high ceiling and oak shelving and paneling. The distributed audio listening model has been replaced by “hands-on” listening stations where patrons handle the recordings themselves. The new library space includes a central computer workstation area for patrons and a handsome new circulation desk. The spacious atrium features a convenient single service point circulation desk and a display case housing the Library’s Spanish Antiphoner. From its peak in the late 1980s of six full-time staff (both professional and support), the Library currently has four full-time staff. Head Librarians who have served the Library are: Theresa Noak (1949-1966), Samuel Douglas (1967-1968), Robert O. Johnson (1968-2000), Mark Palkovic (2001-2015). Current full-time staff members of the Library are: current Library Head, Dr. Jenny Doctor (since Nov. 2016), Assistant Music Librarian Paul Cauthen (since 1991), Cataloging Assistant Sharon Downing (since 1968) and Circulation Supervisor David Sandor (since 2004). The Gorno Memorial Library Collection currently comprises some 43,500 print volumes (books and serials), 80,000 scores, 60,000 sound recordings, 4,000 media materials (videos, DVDs, CD-ROMs), and 6,000 microforms for a total of nearly 200,000 volumes.

The chandeliers in the library are original to the building and bear quotations in various languages. The chandelier at the entrance to the reading room has a Japanese proverb translated as “There are no age limits to learning. Anyone can learn anything if he studies it a hundred times.” In the reading room itself are three large chandeliers: the south chandelier bears a Hebrew inscription from Proverbs 3:13, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding.” The center chandelier bears a Latin inscription from Terence, “Humani nihil a me alienum puto” (“Nothing human do I consider alien to myself.”) The north chandelier bears a Greek inscription from Democritus which reads, “Do not aim at knowing everything.” The scores area at the south end of the building contains a chandelier with a Chinese proverb, “Libraries are valuable to readers because they preserve the riches of the world from which come the beginning of wisdom. Everything in the heavens or upon the earth is for our appreciation."