As one of the major music libraries of the southeastern United States, the Music Library includes an extensive collection of over 200,000 physical items, including more than 80,000 scores, 27,000 books, 42,000 albums and CDs, 2,000 video recordings, and thousands of volumes of periodicals and microforms, plus extensive online streaming audio and video options. The library’s special collections house many rare and unique items dating from as early as the 16th century.
The library occupies 18,000 square feet of space within the Housewright Music Building on the campus of the Florida State University. Public access computers and equipment for sound and video playback are available for patron use. The library employs eight full-time staff, including four faculty librarians.
The library is named for Warren Dwight Allen, a celebrated organist and music critic and a professor of music history and literature at the School of Music from 1949 to 1956.
The College of Music dates back to 1900, when one teacher at the Florida State College for Women (FSCW) began teaching both vocal and instrumental music. By 1911, the School had six faculty members and Ella Scoble Opperman became the director of the school. In the same year, the first bachelor’s degree in music was awarded by vote of the faculty.
Since 1911, the music library’s collection has grown steadily. By 1935, the National Association for Schools of Music listed the FSCW School of Music as one of thirteen schools with outstanding music library holdings. The FSCW became co-ed and was renamed the Florida State University in 1947. During the summer of 1949, the music library, which included five small listening rooms, moved into the new, air-conditioned building, now known as the Kuersteiner Music Building.
The library’s working collection increased substantially in 1956 with the acquisition of the personal library of Olin Downes, noted music critic and music editor of the New York Times, from his widow. By 1969, the music library had outgrown its space in the Kuersteiner Music Building and moved to a temporary location next to the school, and in 1971 moved to the basement of the nearby Longmire Alumni Building. In 1979, the Music Library was moved to its present location in the west wing of the then-newly-constructed Housewright Music Building.
The long and distinguished history of the College of Music is reflected in the Music Library’s collection. The library’s holdings include many publications by members of the college’s faculty, as well as major donations of personal collections and estate bequests from library friends. Of particular interest, the library houses a significant collection of letters, papers, and recordings by former faculty members Ernő Dohnányi and Edward Kilenyi, Jr. The late Dr. John Boda also donated a significant collection of his manuscripts and published compositions, and former dean Wiley L. Housewright left the library many of his notes and rare books and scores from his personal collection. For more information on these and other items, visit the library’s Special Collections page.