MusiCB3: What has your road to librarianship been?
Clemens Gresser: As a student I found myself covering the Musicology Department’s library desk on a few occasions, but I didn’t feel any urge to become a librarian. Fast forward to having finished my Ph.D. at Southampton University, and the realisation dawns on me: I need a job, and the librarians I met in the last couple of years were really friendly and some of them even had Ph.Ds.. So I decided to apply for jobs in libraries.
Before working at the Pendlebury Library of Music and the CUL Music Department, where have you been?
CG: I couldn’t convince the librarian of my local public library to let me do work experience (Her: “You’ve got a Ph.D. – this isn’t rocket science!” Me: “That’s fine, I haven’t studied rocket science”). I spent an extremely short time volunteering at the two libraries at RHS Wisley (Lindley Library for the general public, and the unnamed academic/research library). After an enjoyable set-back at a Tourist Information Centre, I started in earnest, full-time and for a pay of 3 shillings and sixpence at the University of Surrey, where half of my job remit was web page admin person and e-resources trainer and admin. My lucky break was supposed to be becoming Issue Desk Supervisor at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama; however, after some music and maybe a bit too much drama, I left there after 18 months for a part-time position at the BL’s Music Reference Service – this was intended to help me find time for my part-time studies (as I was heading for my 2nd year in my Library and Information Studies M.Sc.). Unfortunately, 7 other people above me got promoted temporarily, so I was offered an extra 50% of working hours, and couldn’t refuse. After a good while in this full-time job (I remember more than 7 renewal letters, most of them for 3 months each), a temporary position at the BL’s German Collections was available. To my surprise, they didn’t check my German, but I still got the job.
At the end I didn’t want to go back to my previous job, having finished my M.Sc. in the meantime. I was extremely lucky to be appointed Deputy Head of Music here in Cambridge, and now, more than 3 years later, I will soon be on my way to pastures new.
What do you like most about the University Library / the Pendlebury Library’s Music Collections?
CG: I actually like most things, I feel no need to single things out.
Do you read any foreign languages?
CG: I’m good in reading most languages, but my French and (deteriorating) German give me the most understanding (i.e. I actually mostly understand what the letters and words mean!).
What do you like about working in Cambridge most?
CG: After 3 years and working hard and playing (mostly) softly (on my piano), I’m still discovering new things which make me glad to be here. However, as a vegetarian I need to praise the Rainbow Café in King’s Parade.
Best day at work?
CG: Figuring out a problem and solving it, preferably with a colleague, or the whole team.
Worst day at work?
CG: Difficult to pin-point, but probably days when I realised that I had made a mistake, and could have avoided it.
What is/are your most favourite composer(s)/type(s) of music?
CG: This really depends on the when and where. I can cope with most musics, but generally-speaking prefer not-too-loud music.
What is/are your instrument(s)?
CG: Voice, though once trained I “peaked” way too early. I’m not really a good musician. I can also play on keyboards which make sounds, so not very well. Played saxophone in a (‘rock’) band, and clarinet to annoy my family and some people at school.
Any hidden talents?
CG: I’m a good rambler and a bouncy ceilidh dancer.
Clemens Gresser will be working at the Pendlebury Library of Music and in the Music Department of Cambridge University Library until the end of November 2013.