Music librarianship in Hungary

Music departments came into being in public (county) libraries at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. One single methodological guide, entitled „A fonotéka” (Sound Library) by Iván Pethes helped the work of music librarians. It was he who brought the Hungarian music librarian associations alive both in national end international level. Music Section of the Association of Hungarian Librarians keeps the Hungarian musical librarians together. This section has created the mailing list of music librarians.
It was also Iván Pethes who has worked A flexible classification system of music and literature on music (FZO) out.

Pethes Iván started working in IAML in 1963. Thanks of his activity the Hungarian National Committee of IAML was founded by the ministry in 1971. From the 70s to 90s Hungarian colleagues contributed to RILM, RISM, RIdIM works. After the turning point of the Hungarian society (1989) music librarianship had to be reorganized. The new Hungarian National Branch of IAML was founded in 2005 like a public benefit organisation.

Heves County Library in Eger was the first library that has started the borrowing of the sound recordings in 1978. Many libraries began the copying of the sound recordings as a library service.

In 1980 „Zenemű- és hangtári részlegek a közművelődési könyvtárakban” (Music Departments and Sound Archives in Hungarian Public Libraries) by Judit Skaliczki was published. It was long the standard work and main source of music librarians.

As a result of the Library Act CXL/1997 the Hungarian library system and music collections within were transformed.

Now according to a survey by The Association of the Hungarian Librarians Music Section and Music School Association more than 500 libraries and music schools have music collections.

These collections are different in quantity and quality. These are not independent institutions, they function as a departments of a library, an educational institution, music and/or not music institution. We do not have an independent public music library in Hungary.

The music collections in public libraries are generally special collections. These are either audio-visual sections (collecting non book material) or thematic collections, music collections, music sections (where the reason of selection is music, not the type of the document it appears on).

National document supply system

The biggest music library in Hungary is the Central Library of Liszt Ferenc Academy/University of Music. It takes part in the national document supply system (shortened as ODR in Hungarian). It is a university library but takes part in ODR and one of the biggest supplier of music documents within the system. Mention must be made of some public libraries with major music sections e.g. University and National Library, University of Debrecen , Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library, National Library of Foreign Literature and the county libraries. The music collections supply only two or three types of the music documents via interlibrary loan: books, articles and the sheet music. (The interlibrary loan of sound recordings, and video documents is not solved).

The LXXVI/1999 act on copyright ceased the copying of sound recordings and sheet music as a library service.

A Handbook of Music Library knowledge (Zenei Könyvtári ismeretek) was published by the Association of Hungarian Libarians Music Section in 1999. The editor in chief was Julianna Gócza. The authors of the volume are Frigyesné Erdélyi, Julianna Gócza, György Pogány, Veronika Vavrinecz. Four long chapters summarize the required information on music librarianship: music information, music documents; music library information service; bibliographic description of music documents; thematic classification of music documents.

Music librarians’ training

At the moment there is not independent music librarians’ training in Hungary. In some universities and colleges (EKF, BDF) music library work is an optional course within the general librarian sciences subject or academic specialization in Teacher Training College Department of Music and Singing.

An accredited course entitled „Classical music collections in public libraries” can be chosen as a professional in-service training course in Szeged…within the framework of the accredited library training schedule organized by the Ministry Of Education And Culture.

Many changes took place in the past few years. The library system changed, audio-visual and electronic information carriers spread in music collections, as well. The bigger music collections and their databases are available on the internet, some libraries are engaged in digitisation (e.g. Collection of old sheet music in University and National Library, University of Debrecen)

Bródy Sándor Public Library music collection in Eger started a blog entitled „Hangtárnok”, (using the technology of web2.0 for popularizing the music collection). The head of this collection have also compiled the selected bibliography of music library work, available on the blog.

Music collections in Hungary:
1. music- and sound collections in public libraries (generally as special collections in county and town libraries)
2.collections in music schools, secondary schools specilized for music and/or arts
3. music collections in higher education (e.g.
University and National Library, University of Debrecen , Central Library of Ferenc Liszt University of Music)

4. special collections of public libraries (Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library, National Library of Foreign Literature)

5. collection of research library (Musicological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
6. the collection of the national library: National Széchényi Library Music Collection
7. other music collections (restrictedly availability)
– ecclesiastical music collections

– music collections of different associations (Budapest Music Center Hungarian Music Information Center)

-music collections in museums

-music collections in theatres e.g. Hungarian State Opera House,

-orchestral libraries e.g. Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, Choir and music bibliotheque,

-Archive of Hungarian Broadcasting Company
-Hungaroton archive

-private collections

Literature in English:

Libraries and librarianship in Hungary:


Márton Németh: Hungarian Libraries and Librarianship, 1990–2013: An Overview

The Hungarian library system today:

Gócza, Julianna: Hungary’s Pethes Heritage in Music Librarianship. In: Fontes Artis Musicae. 1991. Vol. 38/3. p. 161-163.

Gócza, Julianna: The New Members Of The European Union: Outreach Initiatives In Hungary. In: Fontes Artis Musicae, Jan-Mar2006, Vol. 53 Issue 1, p.13-16, 4p;

Kárpáti, János: Hungarian music libraries today. Fontes Artis Musicae, Vol. 40. 1993. 2. p. 161–163.

Skaliczki, Judit: Coming of age in the land of Bartók and Kodály. (The development of music departments in large public libraries in Hungary, 1978-1988.). In: Fontes Artis Musicae. 1991. Vol. 38/3. p.163-171.

Gócza, Julianna: Music Library Services in Hungary: Future Requirements for Support. In: Fontes Artis Musicae. 2008. Vol. 55/2. p. 257-262.


written by Marianna Zsoldos

rev. and Julianna Gócza

transl. by Ildikó Fekete

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