Athenauem Library library collections

Athenaeum Library Collections


The Athenaeum offers a wealth of resources on the subjects of music and art that are unique to this region. Members have access to a wide variety of materials that range from rare, historic items to the latest in video technology. The library is open to the public without charge, although borrowing privileges are limited to members, who pay a modest annual fee. Most audio and video formats circulate for a period of two weeks; up to five may be checked out at one time. Periodicals and books (with the exception of artists' books and those in the Special Collection) circulate for four weeks, with five books and five magazines being the maximum number that can go out at any one time.


To access the collection, the Athenaeum invites you to visit our online catalogue. Members can also use it to reserve items, renew items online, and save searches with a patron barcode, which can be obtained from a library staff member.


A member is entitled to have out at any one time: 5 books, 5 magazines, 5 LPs, 5 music scores, 5 CDs, 5 DVDs, and 5 videos. CDs, DVDs, and videos circulate for two weeks; all other material for four weeks unless otherwise stated. A fine of 20 cents per day per item will be charged on all overdue material. Lost or damaged material must be paid in full.




ART BOOKS: Almost 9,000 items are in this category. Included are books on art techniques, world art, catalogues raisonnés, artists' biographies, and historical surveys. An art reference section is anchored by one of the most important resources on art, The Grove Dictionary of Art, as well as auction catalogues, art and artist dictionaries, and other guides.


MUSIC BOOKS: Featured in this area are many composer and performer biographies, histories of the different eras of Western classical music, texts on theory and different musical instruments, and stylistic surveys. The music reference section also contains the second edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.


YOUNG PEOPLE'S BOOKS: This small, yet impressive part of the library features many beautiful and unique books on the subjects of music and art aimed at a younger audience.  There are some special emphases, including a growing collection of all books that have won the Caldecott medal.


COMPACT DISCS: Now with over 12,000 items, it is one of the largest circulating CD collections in the area. Most prominent are the classical, jazz, and opera sections. Comprehensiveness is always a goal of the library staff, and the variety of composers and operas in the collection attests to this. In addition, the library supports the programming in its chamber music and jazz concert series with its acquisitions. Other subjects found in the collection include world, popular, folk, motion picture, and vocal music, as well as music for young people and holiday music.


LPs: The Athenaeum has a representative collection of classical and jazz music in this medium.


DVDs & VIDEOS: The library collection in these formats include art and music documentaries, foreign films, and award-winning films such as those from the Sundance and Cannes festivals, as well as all Academy Award winners.


CD-ROMs: Virtual museum tours, multimedia approaches to music and performances, and surveys of the works of a variety of artists for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems can be found in this format.


In addition to our regular collection, the Athenaeum also collects items of a more special nature, which do not circulate. The most prominent of these is the artists' books collection.  In addition, the library's Special Collection contains books, videos, LPs, and other items that are rare or valuable.


ARTISTS' BOOKS: A special focus of the Athenaeum's collection has become its artists' books, which have proved to be of interest to not only our members but also scholars and researchers on an international level. The collection emphasizes the works of California artists and California presses, and is especially known for its collection of conceptual artists' books.


BACH WERKE: The library is also fortunate to have in its holdings the entire series issued by the Bach Gesellschaft between 1850 and 1900, one of the few libraries on the West Coast that does, allowing our members access to the complete works of this great composer of Western music.


Other items of interest in the Athenaeum's holdings include its collection of periodicals and its music scores.


PERIODICALS: The library contains a variety of art periodicals, many titles going as far back as the late 19th century. Many are unusual or foreign magazines that are not easily accessed elsewhere. Members may check out back issues for a period of four weeks.


MUSIC SCORES: The Athenaeum also has an extensive collection of scores for piano, solo wind and string instruments, and chamber music. A collection of miniature scores gives our members access to orchestral music.


POPULAR SHEET MUSIC: Another special part of the library is our large collection of popular sheet music from 1813 to the 1980s. Their beautiful cover art alone makes these significant cultural artifacts, but our members have also found this music to be a useful source of lyrics and melodies of the past century.



The library's collections include more than 14,000 monographs that consist of art books, music books, and young people's books in art and music. All library materials except artists' books are available for public viewing without an appointment. In order to view an artist book, please call the library staff at (858) 454-5872 at least one day in advance.