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Music Resources: Reference Services

When is Reference Service Available?

Reference service is available ANY TIME a full-time staff member is present and available in the Music Library, which during the Fall and Spring semesters, is generally Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Hours may be different during the Summer semester.  Simply go to the service desk and ask for a full-time staff member to assist you with a reference question. If you come to the Music Library when full-time staff are not available, our student staff will take your information and refer you to the Music Librarian for further assistance. You may also ask a question or make an appointment with the Music Librarian by calling (815) 753-9839 or by email.

Music Library Reference Service

Professional librarians, who are members of the University faculty, assisted by library operating staff, provide reference and information service to members of the University community, including students, faculty, staff, and community members. As the Music subject specialist librarian for the NIU Libraries, Abbey Thompson can help you find the information, book, article, or resource that you seek! Need help with your search strategies? Can't find anything on your topic, or need assistance refining that paper topic? Don't know where to start? Come see the Music Librarian!

What Can Reference Service Do For Me?

Our professional librarians can help you find information such as:

  • Identification and location of books, scores, sheet music, recordings, and other items in the NIU Libraries, or other libraries
  • Translations and pronunciation guides for vocal music
  • Identification and location of periodical articles, online and in print
  • Identification and location of images of manuscripts and music-related art
  • Contact information for living musical personalities and organizations
  • Identification of tunes
  • Proper citation styles for academic papers
  • Answers to questions about musical works, composers, musicians, musical instruments, and other topics
  • Analyses of musical works
  • How to use Interlibrary-Loan and I-Share
  • Many other topics!

Abbey Thompson

Abbey Thompson

Abbey Thompson, Music Librarian

MA Musicology and MS Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2006 and 2008); BM Music Performance (Vocal), University of California, Santa Barbara (2000)

As Music Librarian at NIU, Abbey is chiefly responsible for the operations of the Music Library, and specifically, she performs collection development, library instruction, and reference for the users of the Music Library.  She also supervises the Music Library staff and assists with cataloging.

Abbey joined the NIU Libraries in 2015, prior to which she served as the Collection Services Manager at Princeton University. She has also worked at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities as a cataloger of rare childrens books, and for Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (Rochester, MN) as a Project Manager and music cataloger for the Chatfield Brass Band Music Lending Library. While in graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill she worked in the Metadata Research Center, Rare Books & Special Collections, and for the Southern Folklife Collection. Her scholarly interests include early music (particularly vocal music) and the early music revival of the 20th century, as well as performance practice, music reception, pop music studies, and video game music. On the library side of things, she is interested in taxonomies/folksonomies, music user services, and music reference. In her spare time, Abbey enjoys singing, cooking/baking, and is an avid player of video games and board games.


- Digital Media Review of IPA Source. Notesthe Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 71, no. 4 (June, 2015): 740-742. (

- "Community Libraries as Online Partners: Cataloging the Chatfield Brass Band Music Library.” Poster presented at the annual meeting for the Music Library Association, Chicago, Illinois, February 2009. [Co-author and presenter]

- “The Dryad Repository: Transforming Scientific Publishing and Data Discovery via the Convergence of Open Access and eScience.” Poster presented at Microsoft eScience Workshop at RENCI, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, October 2007. [Co-author and presenter]

- “The Dryad Data Repository: A Singapore Framework Metadata Architecture in a DSpace Environment.” Paper presented at DC-2008 International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications, Berlin, Germany, September 2008. [Co-author, left project prior to conference presentation]

Sherry Patterson

Sherry Patterson

Sherry Patterson, Senior Library Specialist

MA and MFA, Northern Illinois University

Sherry, full-time senior library specialist in the Music Library, can help users find information using library resources.  Outside of her work in the Music Library, Sherry is also a professional artist.

Music Cataloging Librarian

Sarah Holmes, Music Cataloging Librarian

Sarah joined the NIU faculy in July of 2016. Welcome, Sarah!