Circulating iPods

The Problem

Students in the Aaron Copland School of Music have to pass four required listening lists each containing 20 to 30 hours of music. Students could only check out 5 CDs at a time, which made learning so much music more difficult.

Snippets from the Aaron Copland School of Music Listening Lists

The Goal

The Music Library and Aaron Copland School of Music wanted to make studying for these exams easier and more efficient.

The Team

The Director of the Aaron Copland School of Music secured funding for sixteen 30g iPods, chargers, and hard plastic cases. The Music Library, with help from librarians in the Rosenthal Library (the main library on campus), formatted and loaded the iPods with the music for all four listening lists and prepared them for circulation.

The Process

To comply with copyright laws, the iPods circulated in “notes” mode. This allowed students to access and listen to the music, but they could not download the music. To do this, we created a text file with all of the metadata for the music files and downloaded both the text file and the mp3 files to the iPods.

Working with fellow librarians on campus, the Music Library created circulation policies and procedures for the iPods:

  • Only music majors could check out iPods
  • iPods circulated for one week and could be renewed indefinitely as long as other iPods were available
  • When checking out iPods, students signed a contract outlining policies and fines.

What We Learned

Students preferred the iPods to CDs, and the Aaron Copland School of Music reported an improvement in exam scores! During the peak of our iPod program, we had 40 iPods circulating. Our students took excellent care of our iPods. None were lost or damaged!

Once Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, etc., began offering more robust options, the iPods were used less. After 10 years, we ended the program due to low usage and the demise of the classic iPod.

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