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