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About Us

The Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library (MSPAL) is the central location on the College Park campus for music, theatre, and dance materials. The circulating, reference, serial, and special collections include 56,000 books, 156,000 musical scores, 130,000 audio and video recordings, 4500 microform titles, and 281 active journal subscriptions.

Opened in 2000 as part of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, MSPAL's public areas include a spacious main reading room with individual study carrels and computer workstations, a separate reading room for special collections, a lounge-style study room, a seminar room, and a group study room. A multi-media exhibition gallery, with an adjacent lecture/concert room, links the MSPAL to the The Clarice's exciting programming via the Grand Pavilion.

Reference librarians, curators, and expert permanent staff are available on weekdays during regular working hours. Basic circulation and information services are available during evening and weekend hours. 

MSPAL is home to several special collections and archives of materials relating to the arts. Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) of the University of Maryland Libraries contains performing arts collections that preserve performance, education, recordings, and scholarship.

Also located within MSPAL, the International Piano Archives at Maryland is a unique resource for the study, appreciation, and preservation of the classical piano repertoire and its performance. IPAM's collections comprise the world's most extensive concentration of piano recordings, books, scores, programs and related materials, including the archival papers of many great keyboard artists. 

Staff

Portrait of Drew Barker

Drew Barker

Performing Arts Librarian (Librarian II)
Portrait of Maxwell Brown

Maxwell Brown

Manager, IPAM
Portrait of John Davis

John Davis

Curator (Librarian II)
Portrait of Stephen Henry

Stephen Henry

Head MSPAL (Librarian III)
Portrait of James Homme

James Homme

Library Services Supervisor
Portrait of Alice Lasota

Alice Lasota

Music Cataloging Librarian (Librarian Emerita)
Portrait of Donald Manildi

Donald Manildi

IPAM Curator (Librarian II)
Portrait of Bruce Tennant

Bruce Tennant

Library Services Specialist
Portrait of Ben Jackson

Ben Jackson

Manager

Mission

The Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library connects people to collections that inspire and enable research and creativity.

Vision

The Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library (MSPAL) will work closely with campus partners to enable student learning in the arts, to provide access to the arts for the wider campus and local communities, and to further understanding and appreciation of the world through facilitating research in the arts locally and globally. We are committed to being flexible and adaptable in order to meet the evolving needs of performing artists and researchers. In the near-future the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library will achieve the following objectives:

Build a creative laboratory for performing artists and researchers. We will offer spaces and services that support the entire creative process from conception to performance.

  • Laptops, tablets, and other equipment can be borrowed from the circulation desk
  • Spaces and technology for collaboration and work-shopping of ideas
  • Software, tools, and technology for creating, (music notation software, MIDI keyboards, set design software), and for self-publishing

Enable performers as researchers, and researchers as performers. Performers—musicians, actors, dancers, designers—are a growing segment of our user base. Meanwhile, we’re providing outlets for researchers to perform their own work.

  • On-demand purchasing of performing materials (music parts and playscripts) with in-house binding to speed up the turnaround time dramatically.
  • Offering more resources performers need—masterclasses on video, access to live streaming video performances by great musicians
  • Community meeting spaces for presenting papers, participating in Webinars, and for small-scale performances
  • Facilitating online publication, through the UMD Libraries’ digital repository. We can even help scholars start an online open access peer-reviewed journal. 

Collect, archive, and preserve institutional history. We want to make sure the great work being done by our partners in The Clarice is captured and kept.

  • Collecting recorded performances 
  • Archiving digital and print programs
  • Digitizing legacy recordings already held in the library
  • Acquire select collections created by UMD’s performing arts faculty

Be a PERFORMING arts library. We think of our work as its own kind of performance, and we are performers in the more traditional sense as well.

  • Physical and online exhibits raise awareness of our special collections, and are performances in their own right
  • Librarians and curators are musicians, actors, dancers, collectors, and scholars
  • We are collaborators with our partners in The Clarice and are an integral part of many of its performances, and are we are highly visible in the performing arts community at the University of Maryland
  • Every once in a while we turn the library into a venue and offer performances in a surprising and refreshing setting

Anticipate and point the way to changing modes of scholarly inquiry.

  • Proactively explore new research paradigms through the Charles Fowler Digital Humanist in Residence Program and through individual research by MSPAL faculty librarians and curators
  • Collect and make available data and software related to the performing arts
  • Enhance access to MSPAL collections and extend the research possibilities for those collections by thinking of the collections themselves as data and by promoting them as such

Our Primary Audiences

The following are our primary users:

  • Students, faculty, and staff associated with the performing arts at Maryland. In other words, UMD people whose academic home is the School of Music; the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies; or the Clarice management team.
  • Outside researchers who use MSPAL’s unique collections.
  • UMD students, faculty and staff whose academic home is not in the arts but who have an interest in the arts, or who use MSPAL’s spaces or resources.

Partnerships

We work with the following partners to realize our mission and vision:

  • The UMD Libraries
  • Clarice Smith Center Partners
  • Clarice Management Staff
  • Artist Partner Program
  • School of Music
  • School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
  • MITH (Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities)
  • Local community members and organizations
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