The Irish Sheet Music Archives website project was envisioned to not only give global access to the nearly 6,000 pieces of sheet music in the collections of the Ward Irish Music Archives (WIMA) but to also provide historical context about items and themes in these collections. The WIMA created a searchable online catalog that could also display scanned images of public domain sheet music. The archive also includes a historical notes section for each individual piece of music further exploration of concepts, personalities, and history related to a particular song.
By using data from their existing catalogs, WIMA created an online catalog that can display multiple images of the pages of sheet music for records that were published before 1923, which is roughly half the material in their collection. Any record with a date published after 1923 is restricted from displaying an image to protect creator rights. Users can search through catalog records directly from the main homepage or by filtering records by instrumentation, date spans, subjects, publication place, and collection fields. The website also includes three galleries to feature additional information about cover artists, composers, and themes found in WIMA’s collections.
To reach a wide audience for the project, WIMA invested in a search engine optimization profile to make sure users can more easily discover the website organically through search engines. To appeal to those with an interest in Irish music and culture, they reached out to their core audience of followers on social media channels and their email list. The website was also formally released at the American Sheet Music Conference to reach sheet music collectors from around the world. Since its launch, the Irish Sheet Music Archives website has been viewed by users in over 55 countries.
The Irish Sheet Music Archives website has allowed WIMA to preserve Irish related sheet music by making high resolution scans of public domain sheet music. This digitization project allows users around the world to discover these unique and historical documents while at the same time prolonging the life of the sheet music.