Originally published in The Weekly Packet, March 13, 2014
Former Liberty School property donated to Bagaduce Music Lending Library
Board of Directors eyes expanded collection, performance hall
Bagaduce Music Lending Library celebrates the donation of the former Liberty School property on South Street by Jan and Bob Marville. From left, co-founder and musical director Mary Cheyney Gould, Jan Marville, Bob Marville, Exectuive Director Martina Herries and co-founder Marcia Chapman.
by Ruby Nash
While most of the peninsula is contemplating spring plantings and mud season, Bagaduce Music Lending Library has cause to celebrate with yuletide cheer.
On Friday, March 7, at 2:30 p.m., Bob and Jan Marville of East Blue Hill signed paperwork donating the former Liberty School property on South Street to the music library. At 3:30 p.m., library friends and family celebrated the gift with champagne toasts, laughter, and a few tears of joy.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said BMLL co-founder Marcia Chapman. “It will be great for the whole area.”
The former school property has four buildings on a four-acre lot, which will provide ample space for the library’s ever-expanding collection. “We’re stuffed to the gills here,” said Martina Herries, executive director. The library holds approximately two million pieces of music in its current location at 5 Music Library Lane in Blue Hill, and the materials just keep coming. A recent donation by a local a cappella group brought in 15 file cabinets full of music, which are stored, at least for now, in the converted RV garage turned library.
Sheet music of all varieties, common or rare, is included in the collection, and it attracts patrons not just from the United States, but from all over the world. Currently the organization has members in 27 foreign countries. “Forty-seven percent of our inventory cannot be found elsewhere—not even in the Library of Congress, or the libraries of Harvard or Yale, for example. We’re the best kept secret in music,” said Lynette Woods, operations director.
Recently, she said, a French musician contacted the library searching for a piece of piano music for 32 hands.
“It means eight pianos, two players at each,” explained Woods. “And we have it!”
Co-founder and Musical Director Mary Cheyney Gould, who is now 89 years old, has been curating the collection at BMLL since the organization began in her garage 30 years ago. She created her own cataloging system for the music, one that still serves them well. “For all of this to happen is beyond belief. This library has given me far more than I have given it,” she said.
The new home creates new hopes for the lending library. The board has assembled a “dream team” dedicated to creating a list of goals for the donated property, which will include a performance hall.
Visions of musical performances, community events, and an expanded collection were on the minds of all attendees as they celebrated the donation.
The Marvilles have a long history with the Bagaduce Music Lending Library. Jan has been a volunteer with the organization for 33 years, and Bob was president of the board of directors from 1992 to 1994. When asked what motivated him to make such a gift to the library, Bob Marville said, “It’s almost selfish to do something nice. There is so much joy in giving.”
While touring the stacks in the cold, dusty RV garage, board member Michael Hewes cited the historical value of the inventory, and then added, “This is stuff that might have ended up in the dump.” Boxes, cataloged and organized, line shelves in the makeshift space. “This is a museum in large part. It allows us to preserve cultural heritage from around the world. We’re just trying to live up to what’s here.”
For the Marvilles, the donation is also about preservation for the library. “If you can pass things you really care about onto the next generation or two, that’s really something,” Marville said, smiling. “It’s the greatest joy I’ve had.”