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The University of Akron
Bierce Library

Copyright © 1997
by The University of Akron


THE GFA ARCHIVE began humbly as a single cardboard box of photocopies of rare, hard-to-find guitar music in the hands of just one collector. Thomas Heck, founding GFA Archivist, had spent over a year collecting the first editions of Giuliani's music while on a Fulbright grant in Vienna, 1968- 69. In his words, he "wanted to share the wealth rather than burying it in a closet."
He felt the need for an association or foundation to which he could donate his photocopies and microfilms of early and first editions of Giuliani's music and similar scores, with the reasonable hope that they would be made available widely, rather than locked away in some storage facility. Heck drafted the Articles of Incorporation of the GFA in Santa Barbara in 1973, in fact, specifically to provide a non-profit corporate framework within which such an Archive and shared collection could exist.
His early efforts resulted in his formally setting up in Milwaukee in 1977, after taking a degree in librarianship, a corporate archive with his personal collection of Giuliani editions at its core. He also provided a means for GFA members to write for "photocopies on demand." The first catalogue of the GFA Archive, twelve pages in length, was entitled "A Checklist of Music in the Archive of the Guitar Foundation of America and a Cooperating Collections." It was photocopied and distributed to GFA members in December 1977, while Heck was on the staff of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. It inventoried not only what was at hand but also certain scores in the possession of other GFA members, like Peter Danner and Paul Cox.
The pattern of including other cooperating collections was much expanded in the second edition, published by the GFA in June 1981: Guitar Music in the Archive of the Guitar Foundation of America and at Cooperating Collections: a Computerized Catalog. It appeared three years after Heck had been appointed to head the Ohio State University Music/Dance Library. Running some ninety pages in length, it listed, besides GFA material, the holdings of the Krick Collection at Washington University in St. Louis. Its "computerization" was arranged with the support of the systems office at the University of California at Riverside, thanks in large part to GFA member and librarian John W. Tanno.
As the 1980s progressed, Heck found himself less and less able to tend the Archive. By now it had grown to include, besides the "core" collection, much donated 20th-century music, periodicals, and miscellaneous file material documenting the guitar activities and personalities of the latter 20th century. The "core" collection of sheet music remained at the time in Milwaukee, under the direction of Associate Archivist George Lindquist, and the more recent holdings of music and periodicals were in Heck's office at the OSU Music Library in Columbus, Ohio.
Around 1990, the GFA Board approved Heck's recommendation that he solicit the interest of several universities with large guitar programs (of which Ohio State University was not one) in hosting the GFA Archive and properly cataloging it, on-line if possible. The University of Akron responded most affirmatively to this offer, and by the early 1990s the GFA collections had been completely consolidated in Akron.
Music Librarian (and now GFA Archivist) Nancy L. Stokes has since supervised the on-line cataloging of all the GFA material, old and new. The newer guitar music has simply been integrated into the performing collection at the University of Akron, where it may be requested in person or by interlibrary loan. The older material is still intact as a non-circulating special collection, and remains available for photocopying. Demand for the latter has understandably subsided in recent years with the facsimile publication of Giuliani's complete works by Tecla Editions.
With the advent of this web page, the GFA Archive truly comes of age. This site not only links visitors to the GFA material currently available at the Bierce Library at the University of Akron, but also references other important guitar-related collections, such as the International Guitar Research Archive at California State University at Northridge. And now being on-line, the present electronic catalogue has become the definitive one for the GFA Archive. Unlike its two predecessors, it will always remain up-to-date, always be free of charge, and never go out of print. Who could ask for more? (How about digitizing all the older guitar music, you ask? Read on!)
HAVE YOU SOME RARE OLDER GUITAR MUSIC which you would not want to see lost or forgotten? Then please consider donating it to the GFA Archive.
In-kind donations are fully tax-deductable, and your name as donor could be traced in the on-line catalog for purposes of acknowledgment. Contact Nancy L. Stokes , at the University of Akron Bierce Library, to describe and discuss your gift. And remember, please, that cash and estate (stock/bond) donations are always needed to underwrite the processing of gifts and the staffing of this special collection. We might even digitize it some day if appropriate funds are made available.


Last updated: 27 July 1999