Jerwood Library Who’s Who: Marion Harris

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Jerwood Library

Photograph of Marion HarrisI studied Music at the University of Birmingham, and began my library career in 2011 as a Graduate Trainee at the University of Essex. I have since held positions at the University of Reading and Goldsmiths College, and joined Trinity Laban in February 2018, which makes me the newest staff member! I have an MSc(Econ) in Information and Library Studies, which I completed by distance learning with Aberystwyth University between 2012-2015.

I am one of the Jerwood Library’s two “Cataloguing, Enquiries and Acquisitions” Librarians, alongside my colleague Helen Mason.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

No two days are ever the same, but in general my work splits into 3 areas.

Cataloguing is a form of behind-the-scenes library work that involves writing descriptions of all the items in the library so that our students and staff can look them up on the online catalogue. In the last couple of months I have been focusing on cataloguing a big donation of horn and brass ensemble music. There is more information about what library cataloguing involves in my colleague Helen’s blog post from a couple of years ago.

Enquiries, obviously enough, is the time I spend answering questions from our library users, either in person at the desk or in writing via email or the online chat service. Enquiries can cover absolutely anything from a simple “do you have this piece of music in stock?”, to a more complex question about whether a piece is in copyright, or an extended archives query about someone who studied at Trinity in the 1920s which means digging through the old registers in our reserve stack room.

Acquisitions means purchasing new stock for the library. Certain staff members are responsible for purchasing different types of resources; my area of responsibility is for printed music requests. So if there is a score you would like the library to purchase, you can collect a Purchase recommendation form from the issue desk or download it from Moodle and I will do my best to order it for you (remember to get the form signed by your teacher first!). Some examples of music requests I have ordered recently are scores by Nicola LeFanu, Mel Bonis, Wolfgang Rihm and Eric Ewazen.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

After working for several years in university libraries more generally, I am enjoying working in a specialist music library where I can use my subject knowledge. Another interesting part of working in a small library is that there is lots of variety – because we are such a small team, I may be called upon do to anything from binding scores for a composition deadline to searching for photographs in the special collections.

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects of your work you’d like to share?

A lot of the work library staff do is hidden, as most of our users only see us when we are working at the issue desk or reshelving books. However, there is a whole range of behind-the-scenes work we do in the library office to keep things running smoothly. In my case, cataloguing is a classic example of “hidden” work as there is a lot of detail needed to keep the online catalogue running effectively. As well as obvious things like the title and author/composer, there are many other small details we record such as the date and place of publication, number of pages and parts, size and format of ensemble, and any identification numbers such as an ISBN or ISMN. We also include descriptions called “subject headings” which tell you more about the genre and contents of the item, so that when you are searching the catalogue you can hyperlink between related items.

Acquisitions also involves a lot of work behind the scenes. When I receive students’ purchase request forms I have to ensure I buy the correct version of the piece, for example it may need to be a specific edition or a particular format, such as miniature score or score + parts. I also need to consider which companies to buy music from, based on who can supply the item quickest or at the best price.

Finally, could you tell us something people may not know about you?

When I am not working in the library, one of my favourite things to do is choral singing. I am a member of an early music ensemble called The Iken Scholars.


Jerwood Library Who’s Who: Walter Cardew

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Jerwood Library

My name is Walter Cardew and I’m the Senior Library Assistant in the library. I work part-time and I’m usually here on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I work at the library counter; I’m also responsible for arranging loans from and to other libraries (Inter Library Loans) and for sending music for binding. I deal with the library’s cash income and help sort through various donations that get made to the library.

What is a typical day like for you?

Like the other library assistants I’m timetabled for certain hours at the library counter. The rest of the time I’m in the library office.

Working at the counter involves helping users with enquiries, issuing items and taking returns. At quiet times I issue invoices for very overdue or lost items, find replacement prices for items on the catalogue that have none, research Inter Library Loans, chase up journals that haven’t arrived and other various tasks that emerge from time to time. I normally open and close the library due to the hours I’m here.

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects of your work you’d like to share?

The library has an archive which has some collections that are held locked away in the rolling stacks. Occasionally myself and the other library assistants are involved in sorting/listing collections which can be very interesting. Recently I went through a collection which included the scores used in recording sessions for film sound tracks. Many had the conductor’s markings which can be very interesting to see.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The interaction with the library users is – on the whole – enjoyable. Most of the students are very friendly and polite and I share an interest in music with them. I also work on Saturdays for the Junior Dept and have enjoyed seeing the children grow up and sometimes progress right through to adulthood in the senior college.

Jerwood Library Who’s Who: Oliver Witkin

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Jerwood Library

My name is Oliver, I’m the librarian responsible for ordering all of the printed music for the library. I also work at the help desk assisting students and staff with their queries. I am from Exeter originally, a small city in the South West of England. I made my theatrical debut in a musical at the Northcott Theatre when I was young but there is no truth in the rumour that I had to leave Exeter for London as a result, nor that I did so to escape Exeter’s ‘brutalism’.

I studied music at Dartington College of Arts where I majored in composition and after graduating was set to embark on a further course in writing music for film and television. It was around this time that I changed my mind and my direction. I began to think seriously for the first time about a career in librarianship. I had always enjoyed using libraries and the library service was clearly entering a new era with all the challenges of the digital information age. I undertook my initial library training at the University of Surrey and obtained my MA in Librarianship from the University of Sheffield. I took up my present post at Trinity Laban in 2004 and this has enabled me to join together my love of music and of libraries. In January 2015 I became a chartered librarian.

What is a typical day like for you?

I order printed music both to meet the course requirements of the conservatoire and to improve the diversity of our holdings within the many instrumental and vocal areas of the collection. I also receive numerous requests from students and staff for particular pieces needed for their recitals, competitions and classes, so prioritisation is an important aspect to my acquisitions work.

I am based at the enquiries desk in the library and, on a typical day, I spend much of my time helping people with their queries and work related problems. The kinds of queries I receive are extremely diverse, I couldn’t possibly mention them all here, but typically they range from the very ordinary day-to-day library stuff (helping people find a book or piece of music on the shelves for example), through to much more detailed research-based queries. A few years ago a student arrived at the help desk with a bird in his hands and asked me “Where does this go?” This kind of query is rather less typical, perhaps, but it is as valid as any other, and as an Enquiries Librarian you learn to expect the unexpected…

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects of your work you’d like to share?

Some of the music requested can be obscure and print editions rare, so a bit of detective work is sometimes necessary. I am often in communication with publishers, suppliers, music associations, arrangers and composers in my efforts to track down a particular piece. Occasionally this turns out to be a wild goose chase and the music is simply out of print or never even existed in the first place, but it is always rewarding when you find that a piece of music you had practically given up hope on just happens to be lurking in the basement of some old warehouse in another part of the world.

I try to keep an eye on that pending orders box as well because some of those pieces are needed for recitals and the suppliers don’t always necessarily share our sense of urgency.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I am surrounded by interesting and engaging people. My day to day interactions with the students, staff, and my own library colleagues, is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work.

I enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the collection grow. This satisfaction comes in all areas of my acquisitions role, not only music I am ordering with a view to collection development but also music which is requested by students and staff at the conservatoire, even the replacements for lost and damaged items. I like seeing a new piece of music appear on the shelves and knowing that the collection has improved in some respect however small.

Tell us something people may not know about you

There aren’t that many people who can say they have played chess with the former Ukrainian Women’s Chess Champion! I’ve suffered eighteen crushing defeats so far but I’m ever hopeful that a victory is on the horizon (or at least a draw perhaps…)

Jerwood Library Who’s Who: James Luff

JamesTell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Jerwood Library

I work Monday to Thursday each week as a library assistant in the Jerwood Library. I was born in Norwich, Norfolk and first moved to London to study undergraduate music at Goldsmiths and then again for postgraduate philosophy at UCL. Norwich is often referred to affectionately as ‘the graveyard of ambition’ on account of it being small, comfortable and hard to leave. But nice as it is, being a little short on libraries and experimental music, leave I eventually did and have been fortunate enough to find London quite hospitable to me in both libraries and music over the years. I also compose my own music and receive mentorship in that from Kevin Volans and Laurence Crane.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

As a library assistant my time is divided fairly equally between manning the front desk—performing some combination of searching, finding, unjamming, organising, stamping, checking or explaining—and the back office where the role becomes much more one of sticking, stamping, organising, and repairing. As you can see, my role essentially boils down to helping people and organising objects, which I think it’s fair to say are two very satisfying things to do in general.

What’s something you enjoy about your role?

Something that I love about the role is being able to learn about music while at work, and to help facilitate others in their own musical studies. I think music has to be one of the most mysterious things in the universe, and having a job that involves being surrounded by information about it and having new and interesting things constantly passing through my hands is very enjoyable indeed.

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects of your work you’d like to share?

Repairing the old stock is quite a hidden activity, occurring as it does in the depths of the library office and serving to simply keep items in circulation. It’s amazing what wonders can be worked on a decrepit piece of music with an artfully deployed arsenal of tape, string and glue.

Finally, could you tell us something people may not know about you?

I once drove around Mongolia for a month in a van. And very nice it was too.



Jerwood Library Who’s Who: Claire Kidwell

CK pictureTell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Jerwood Library

I’m Claire Kidwell, the Head Librarian of the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts, and I have overall responsibility for the management of the library in the Faculty of Music.

It wasn’t until my final year studying music as an undergraduate at Oxford University, that I realized that a career in librarianship might be for me. Whilst studying I found it was often the process of researching – using different databases, bibliographies and indexes – that I enjoyed, as much as the discoveries I was making. After graduating, I spent a year as a trainee library assistant at Christ Church College, Oxford in amongst the autograph manuscripts of composers such as Blow and Purcell. From there I then moved on to UCL where I studied for a MA in Library and Information Studies, after which I was appointed as a music cataloguer at the British Library. I’ve worked in the Jerwood Library since 2003, taking on my current role in 2005. There probably aren’t all that many people who can say that each of their places of work has been a grade I listed building!

Outside of Trinity Laban I serve on several professional committees, including the Executive Committee of the UK & Ireland branch of IAML – the professional association for music libraries – and am Chair of both the UK & Ireland and International Copyright Committees.

But it’s not all work! One of the joys of working in London is all the music-making one can experience, and in my spare time I enjoy singing with the Holst Singers.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

It can vary so much depending on the time of year and what else is going on in the conservatoire.

In the autumn term we spend a lot of time delivering library user education sessions on our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, which aim to provide the foundations to equip our students to be effective and discerning in their use of print and electronic resources in their studies.

south library shelvingSpring is the time to concentrate on strategic planning for the next academic year, such as preparing our library departmental plan which reflects on the activities on the current year and sets objectives for the next one, alongside preparing a budget in order to ensure the delivery of those objectives and adequate resourcing of the curriculum. It’s also when I plan for big one-off projects and apply for capital funding to realize these (e.g. the lovely new shelving for our library configuration last summer). This year I’ll also be looking at our Collection Management Policy, conducting a journals review and evaluating potential new ebook platforms.

BooksDuring term-time, some days comprise pretty much back-to-back meetings (whether they be formal committees or individual meetings with colleagues) and returning to my desk at 5pm to attack the 100+ emails that have landed in my inbox since the morning! Once we reach the end of the assessment period in June, one momentarily feels the illusion of some breathing space and time to catch up over the long summer ahead. But as I’m responsible for book acquisitions, this is in fact one of my busiest times, as I request next year’s reading lists from my teaching colleagues, and have a relatively short window of opportunity to get several thousand titles checked against current holdings and orders placed so that the books arrive and can be catalogued, processed and assigned to online reading lists ready for the new academic year in September. This is also the time when I conduct all my team’s annual performance reviews, and (of course allowing myself a break in the sun too 🙂 ) before you know it, the new academic year is upon us!

What’s something you enjoy about your role?

The sheer range of people I interact with, both inside and outside the conservatoire: from teaching eager new students, to discussions with library donors, to meetings with other music librarians from across the globe (sometimes on Skype in the small hours!) to brain-crushing exchanges with internationally-renowned copyright gurus.

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects about your role you’d like to share?

My first task each morning is to check all the material that has been added to our virtual learning environment the previous day to ensure compliance with our various institutional licences, so I’m probably the only person in the institution who sees absolutely all the learning materials created. It’s lucky that the sheer quantity means I have to race through it all, which doesn’t allow me time to get distracted by all the fascinating resources our fabulous teaching colleagues have compiled!

Finally, can you tell us something people may not know about you?

Aged 8 I won a competition in the Southampton Evening Echo to write a football-related mystery story (fairly specific brief there…) and got to have my picture taken with my beloved Saints!


© Peter Kidwell

Jerwood Library Who’s Who: Emma Greenwood

This continues our Who’s Who series of blog posts where Jerwood Library staff talk about themselves and their work.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Jerwood Library

EmmaI’m responsible for the day-to-day management of the special collections and archives which means anything from answering queries and cataloguing to putting on exhibitions and liaising with potential donors. The collections comprise original manuscripts, photographs, letters and rare printed music – they are a real treasure trove and it’s a privilege to be able to work with them.

I’ve been working in libraries for about 10 years now but before that I was a freelance horn player and was lucky enough to work with some really great ensembles including Academy of St Martin in the Fields, BBC Symphony Orchestra and City of London Sinfonia. I studied with Stephen Stirling at Trinity Laban (then TCM) on a postgraduate diploma course after finishing a music degree at Oxford University. I also hold a PhD in history from the University of Manchester.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

The first thing I do when I get to work is check for new enquiries. These come from all over the world, from academic researchers, musicians, family historians, and lay members of the public. Most enquiries involve a trip into the stacks to look at a collection, and a bit of research using the library’s print and online resources. Enquiry work is brilliant: I love helping people with their research and I always learn something new myself in the process.

After replying to any enquiries, I can get on with some of my longer-term projects such as improving our collections information. Cataloguing special collections and archives is time-consuming, but it gives me the chance to really get to know a collection, which in turn helps me to answer enquiries more effectively. Sometimes I will come across something really special that I can digitize on our Flickr page or write a blog post about.

Other ongoing tasks revolve around ensuring the long-term survival of the collections – for instance undertaking preventative conservation measures, drawing up procedures for handling and access, or updating our emergency plans. I also help out with our information skills training programme, taking the opportunity whenever I can to plug the special collections!

What’s something you enjoy about your role?

I find researching and writing about the collections particularly enjoyable. Luckily there are lots of opportunities for this kind of work – through answering enquiries, cataloguing, and especially when preparing exhibitions. I can get so hooked on a topic that it sometimes spills over into my ‘free’ time – like when I spent much of my Christmas holiday writing about the music for the Chester Historical Pageant of 1910…

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects of your work you’d like to share?

I’m a huge believer in the potential for special collections and archives to ‘sell’ an institution: the more people who engage with the collections, the further our name is spread. So I’m always thinking of ways to reach new audiences – on Flickr, with blog posts, on the website, or with union catalogues such as the Archives Hub. I also work with the marketing and development teams to bring the collections to a wider audience and build up relationships with alumni, donors and other key individuals. Music is a small world so this kind of engagement can really make a big difference to the wider reputation and success of the conservatoire.

Finally, could you tell us something people may not know about you?

I love yoga and wild camping, preferably at the same time…

camping pic

Jerwood Library Who’s Who: David Butler

This continues our Who’s Who series of blog posts where individual members of staff at the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts talk about themselves and their work.

David ButlerHello, I’m David and I’m a full time library assistant in the Jerwood Library. I grew up in a small seaside town in the North West of England but have been in London for the last 15 years – so the northern accent has definitely softened!​ I actually did a BMus and a PGDip at Trinity Laban when it was still Trinity College of Music. I spent my first year at the ‘old building’ in central London, centered around Mandeville Place – just off Oxford Street. Back then, the campus was spread over several very different buildings. There was a practice annex, a building with the library and some rooms for lectures, the ‘main’ building on Mandeville Place, and Hinde Street Church where we had a lot of our orchestral rehearsals. We had our ‘Principal’s address’ in the Wigmore Hall and a lot of my student loan was spent on CDs from the big HMV which used to be on Oxford Street!

I’ve been working in the Jerwood library for around 6 years now and it feels very much like home. Prior to working here, I worked at the Music Publishers Association and in the library at the Royal Academy of Music.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

The alarm clock goes off at 5.45am during the week – my wife is a primary school teacher and has to be in work crazily early! If I’m opening up the library at 9am, then I usually aim to get to work for about 8.30am (especially if I’ve cycled to work – which I try to do as much as possible). This gives me a chance to get myself organized and make sure everything is ‘fired up’ and ready to go for when we open the doors at 9am. My working week is split between covering the issue desk and working in the library office while generally helping to keep the library running smoothly. Working in the office involves many different tasks including processing new stock to make it ready for the shelves and repairing older stock that is perhaps damaged or worn (see here for more about this work).

What do I enjoy most about the job?

I really enjoy helping people and I get to do this every single day, which is great. This could involve anything from helping someone find a piece of music, showing them how to access an online resource or track down a journal in another library, to simply helping someone use the printer, save their work or add dynamic markings in Sibelius. I also really enjoy being a part of the Jerwood Library team. There are 9 of us altogether and I feel very lucky to have such friendly, supportive, kind and interesting colleagues. I feel that we work very well together as a team and, as a result, offer a high-quality service to students, staff and visitors to the Jerwood Library.

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects of your work you’d like to share?

I do a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work on the reading lists. I work closely with the Head Librarian to ensure that all the lists are up-to-date on the catalogue and that for any items deemed ‘essential reading’ by the teachers we have a copy on short loan or an e-book wherever possible.

Finally, could you tell us something people may not know about you?

With various groups I’ve been lucky enough to perform in some amazing places including Buckingham Palace and the Royal Albert Hall with Imogen Heap. On a non-music-related note I met the Queen when I was about 9 years old!

You can contact David and the rest of the Jerwood Library team using the contact details on the Trinity Laban website.

Jerwood Library Who’s Who: Edith Speller

This is the first in a series of blog posts where individual members of staff at the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts talk about themselves and their work.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Jerwood Library

Edith Speller

My name’s Edith Speller, I’m from a small town in north-east Scotland but have lived in England (mainly London) since I was 17, and I currently live and work in my beloved south-east London. I studied Music at Southampton University and Librarianship at City University (London). I’m a bit of a lapsed cellist and bass guitarist – nowadays I enjoy going to concerts and gigs rather than performing at them. I started working in libraries during my summer holidays at university and have never looked back!

I’ve worked in the Jerwood Library since 2007, and my current role is Library Systems and User Education Manager. This is a varied role which includes responsibility for the library’s systems, managing access to online resources, marketing the library and co-ordinating our annual programme of ‘user education’ among other things.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

Something I enjoy about my role is that there isn’t really a ‘typical’ day – what I get up to varies a lot depending on the time of year, current projects on the go and what crops up during the day. Generally I don’t have lots of meetings to attend and I don’t spend a lot of time covering the library desk so I get to manage my own time and juggle priorities.

For example, in the autumn we librarians spend a fair bit of time directly teaching students (this is the mysterious ‘user education’ in my job title) and this takes up a lot of my time. I revise our classes and develop new ones in discussion with library and academic colleagues, brief the other librarians, prepare all the necessary materials and then do my share of teaching as well! We cover things like copyright for musicians, evaluating different sources of information, planning a search for a specific topic or task, accessing and using our online subscriptions, tracking down materials held in other libraries and increasingly we’re asked to cover more general academic skills like referencing as well.

What’s something you enjoy about your role?

I enjoy helping Trinity Laban students, staff and visitors at all different levels, from giving a quick tour to a brand-new undergrad on their first day here, to advising one of Trinity Laban’s governors about the latest research tools to aid them with preparing for a talk on a particular piece of music. A lot of what I do is behind the scenes which means I don’t get to see any immediate impact on students and staff, so when I do get the opportunity to help someone directly it’s all the more satisfying!

Managing the library’s social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) is also good fun as it gives me a chance to respond to student feedback online as well as sharing interesting and useful links we’ve found and promoting library services and collections.

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects of your work you’d like to share?

I spend quite a bit of time trying to make the process of accessing online resources as streamlined as possible for students and staff across both faculties at Trinity Laban. This includes linking up different systems so students/staff don’t have to keep re-entering their logins and so our QuickSearch discovery tool can link directly to specific recordings, scores and articles held in other databases. It’s still not perfect though and I welcome any feedback and ideas about making access more intuitive.

Recently I spent some time experimenting with TL’s new printers/copiers to iron out any initial quirks, write a quick start guide for students, and revise the library’s guidance on producing booklets for programme notes. As a result my phone’s photo gallery is currently full of photos of copier screens and control panels!

Finally, could you tell us something people may not know about you?

I got married in London Zoo – no, there weren’t any animals at the ceremony but the venue (a beautiful former cafe building) overlooked bear and monkey enclosures at the time!

You can contact Edith and the rest of the Jerwood Library team using the contact details on the Trinity Laban website.