Library Music

music in libraries and THE Make Music Day community: A CASE STUDY

In 2019, 209 performances took place in Norfolk, 29 of which took place in libraries with 770 people participating in Make Music Day (MMD) in Norfolk libraries alone.

Norfolk Library and Information Service worked with Norfolk Music Education Hub to organise a diverse range of performances throughout the day. These ranged from solo musicians, local school and community choirs, mini movers, musical code clubs, and a programme of performances at Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. Over 90% of audiences said they felt more cheerful as a result of attending, and 85% felt more part of their community.

How did it all begin?

Norfolk Library & Information Service runs a successful Music Sets Service and had been looking to establish a regular live music presence for some time. In 2017, Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library started ‘Music at Midday’ a monthly hour of live classical music. The ethos of MMD – to put on performances in unexpected places to surprise audiences – provided a natural next step in celebrating this.

Make Music Day 2019

This year’s MMD event was attended by roughly 80 people from a broad mix of ages and backgrounds and saw three acoustic instrumental performances: Xenia Horne and Jim O Toole’s harp and violin duet; Colombian classical guitarist, Andrés Villamil; and accordion player, Elena Traina. Similar performances also took place at other branch libraries around Norfolk offering communities the chance to hear fantastic free music performances in their local area. For Norfolk Library & Information Service, taking part offers a great opportunity to reach new users and new audiences through MMD’s national marketing campaign. On the ground, performances in libraries are sometimes the first experience a child or adult has of live classical music and the feedback is incredible.

One of the biggest challenges was finding the right musical contacts to begin with and the Library Service now works in partnership with Xenia Horne of UK Harpists and organisations like the Musicians’ Union to put on Music at Midday events throughout the year. Regular live music in the library offers a break from routine, a pick-me-up and some welcome stress relief to customers who often report a positive impact on their mental health. Now other libraries are catching on and Norfolk Library & Information Service is thrilled to be leading the way.

Library top tip

Get a head start with your MMD publicity and don’t be afraid to try new things!