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Our History

Kirby Dilworth, Music Reference Librarian extraordinaire, retired in November 2021.  Read his perspective below.  

(Almost) 43 Years in a Nutshell 
by Kirby Dilworth

My retirement begins a week before Thanksgiving this year, an appropriate time to reflect on why I give thanks for four decades with Carnegie Library’s distinguished music collection, colleagues and, of course, patrons. 


In January 1978, a 26-year-old University of Michigan graduate cautiously sat behind the reference desk under the watchful eye of the second music department head, Ida Reed, learning the storied history of the music library. Not long into Ida’s narration, the music collection’s founder, Irene Millen (ret. 1974), approached the desk and asked for an introduction.  


Miss Millen amplified my history lesson with stories of past visiting musicians browsing the stacks -- Aaron Copland, and an adolescent Lorin Maazel wearing headphones and furiously conducting along with a recording, his parents Lincoln & Marie nearby. Since then, it’s been my pleasure to assist musicians like soprano Marni Nixon, Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart (then a CMU student), film and stage producer Rob Marshall (then a Taylor Allderdice H.S. student), Broadway’s Patti LuPone, composer John Corigliano, conductor Andrew Parrott, heldentenor Gary Lakes, WQED’s Jim Cunningham, Pittsburgh Symphony members, and music faculty members of CMU, Duquesne and Pitt.


Exciting as it is to occasionally associate with luminaries, I’ve found equal satisfaction in guiding music students and music lovers of all ages in the discovery of recordings, scores and books that satisfy their immediate needs and motivate them to explore new repertoire and ideas. The department’s collection has hovered over and under 100,000 volumes since I arrived, and it’s gratifying to draw upon such variety and depth when assisting a music lover.

Read more about our history:

The Reorganization Proposal, 1949

A letter from President Demmler regarding the reorganization, 1949

About the Golden Anniversary

In 1988 the Friends of the Music Library celebrated its 50th Anniversary.  Many of the original members attended.  

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