MusiCB3: What has your road to librarianship been?
Justin Burrows: On the job training. Passed O levels and an A level at school and passed a library qualification while working at the UL. Joined the Library Association. Also passed O level music at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology (now called Anglia Ruskin University) while working at the UL.
Before working at the CUL Music Department, where have you been?
JB: I worked in the Accessions Department at the UL which is now Materials Processing. Some of us were responsible for checking printed bibliographies for the correct and full bibliographic information before typing orders for foreign books on a typewriter. We sometimes had to inform readers if the book they required was actually already in the catalogue. It was a hard life as there were no databases and email in those days. We had to type the orders on typewriters and spend a lot of time standing checking catalogues and bibliographies.
What do you like most about the University Library / the Pendlebury Library’s Music Collections?
JB: Facsimiles mainly, works by Sterndale Bennett, unusual items e.g. Viva la Trinité (CUL MRA.290.85.84) – has interesting cover of King’s College Chapel and Trinity College fountain.
Do you read any foreign languages?
JB: I passed O level Latin and French. Been to German evening classes.
What do you like about working in Cambridge most?
JB: It is a pretty city to live in. Better than going to boarding school near Watford.
Best day at work?
JB: Did a talk to some visitors who wanted to know about the architecture of the UL. I also talked about music. I mentioned a lot about Sir William Sterndale Bennett but didn’t compare him to Mendelssohn, as a lot of people do.
Worst day at work?
JB: Spending many hours in the cold air conditioned basement replacing boxes.
What is/are your most favourite composer(s)/type(s) of music?
JB: I like many composers who have composed really good tunes so the list is quite long: Sir William Sterndale Bennett, Samuel Barber, Cesar Franck, Saint-Saens, Vaughan Williams, C.H.H. Parry, Handel, Charles-Valentin Alkan, J.S. Bach, Charles Villiers Stanford, William Walton, Gustav Mahler, Eric Whitacre, Morten Lauridsen, Armstrong Gibbs, Ennio Morricone, John Rutter, and Albert Ketèlbey. I enjoy classical music (Classic FM, Radio 3 and the Proms on television) and used to listen to music on Radio 2 (formerly the Light Programme) a lot. I enjoy music by French organ composers. I also like Pan Pipe music which can often be heard played live in the streets of Cambridge which is very relaxing.
Where did you live before moving to the region?
JB: Always lived in Cambridge but spent five years at boarding school so felt I lived in Hertfordshire.
What is/are your instrument(s)?
JB: Piano, Harmonium, cello, organ and guitar.
Any hidden talents?
JB: Impersonations. Has been useful cheap entertainment at old peoples homes and hospitals when I was a member of FARSE (Friday Afternoon Roadshow Entertainment). Was heckled once when only 15 years old. My music teacher was very impressed with how well I coped with being heckled. He told my parents how well I’d done. I have done entertainment at a school Christmas party, last night of a holiday and Saturday night entertainment on young peoples weekends. Was difficult keeping my act going after the shock resignation of prime minister Harold Wilson in 1976 but managed eventually to do a few more acts with audiences who knew the people I was doing.
Justin Burrows works in the Music Department of Cambridge University Library.