The School of Music's Emma Ray Riggs McKay Music Library

April 08 2019

 By guest writer Lisa Chaufty, DirectorEmma Ray Riggs McKay Music Library.

Founded just over eighteen years ago and named for one of the University of Utah’s first music graduates, the Emma Ray Riggs McKay Music Library is nestled in the first floor of the School of Music. We exist to serve the students and faculty of the School of Music, but we have patrons from all over the university. They come to check out scores, study in our beautiful space, produce music in our brand-new music technology studio, or browse through our excellent collections, which embrace a wide variety of materials, from the latest recordings and publications by our faculty to our unique collection of vinyl jazz records.

 I took on my current position as director of the library in 2013, after fourteen years of service at the Marriott Library. What I particularly enjoy about leading the McKay Music Library is the opportunity that I have to work with students, harnessing my energy and creativity to provide a supportive and inclusive academic space within the School of Music.

With the help of Spencer Kellogg (who can often be found at the circulation desk) and a dynamite student staff, we find innovative ways to support faculty and students. Mirroring trends at other institutions of higher education, the number of students (particularly graduate students) from around the globe in the School of Music has increased and we offer writing support for students whose first language is not English. Our staff will soon also provide basic music theory tutoring. Last year we started a program, Be.Well@McKay, through which we provide healthy snacks, jigsaw puzzles, and bubble wrap (to pop!) to appease the hungry belly and soothe the anxious mind during exam week.

 I often sit in the Reading Area either to work with students or to see what life is like on the other side of the circulation desk. Sometimes, when the day is waning and the sun is shining in the West through the windows, I’ll hear the quiet or (somewhat) hushed voices of students working together and the sound of a Schubert piano sonata drifting down from Thompson Chamber Hall. This all makes me extremely happy and proud. We are a small library with a small staff, but I like to think that we’re mighty.