Center for Black Music Research to close until January 2024

By Leah Love, News Editor

Located on the sixth floor of the 618 S. Michigan building, rows of boxes containing sheet music and archives from Black artists dating back to centuries ago. (Addison Annis)

The Center for Black Music Research will be closed for renovations from Thursday, June 1 until Jan. 2 of next year. The center, housed in 618 S. Michigan building, will be getting a new HVAC system installed. Items in the collection – which include papers, sheet music, audiovisual materials, and books related to music of the African diaspora, will be stored off-site and unavailable during the renovation.

Background: The center was first established at Columbia in the 1980s and became a special collection inside of the college’s library in 2016. There were major staff layoffs and departures in 2019, but the center remained accessible through Covid restrictions by offering virtual appointments. Currently, it is in a “period of transition,” as senior associate provost Nathan Bakkum previously told the Chronicle.

Details: The renovation, first announced to students, staff and faculty in an April 27 email, will help preserve items in the collection and “help make sure these materials remain available for current and future researchers to learn from and explore,” said Heidi Marshall, head of Archives and Special Collections.

Gaining access: Starting in November, researchers will be able to schedule appointments to visit the center in January 2024. During the closure, online collection guides and selected digital collections will be available on the Digital Commons website. A list of other Black music resources can be found on the library’s website.