MusiCB3: What has your road to librarianship been?
Sam Freeman: When I left Cambridge Regional College with a BTEC National Diploma in Business & Finance, I didn’t know what I wanted to do; I had secretarial qualifications and a love of books. So following an advert at the careers advice centre, I arrived at the University Library in September 1989 as a letter typist for what was then the Accessions Department, transferring at some point to the processes for the receipt of bought books, mostly in European languages. Eventually, I acquired cataloguing skills in a temporary position in the Early American Imprints project, covering for a few months in English Cataloguing, and another temporary position with the Rare Books Pamphlets project, before finally I was accepted for a post in English Cataloguing. After a few years I joined the Music Department in the afternoons while a colleague was working on a project, and after returning full-time to English Cataloguing, Music asked me back to join them one day a week, so I am 4 days in English Cataloguing and 1 day in Music each week now.
What do you like most about the University Library / the Pendlebury Library’s Music Collections?
SF: I like the fact that, as a legal deposit library, the University Library’s collection contains not only scores and books for serious classical music, but also the popular genres of music that I have grown up listening to at home. The collections truly have something for everyone, from the beginner to the conoisseur, from the classical flautist to the rock guitarist.
Do you read any foreign languages?
SF: Well, I learned French and Spanish at school, to the level that I know what certain words mean, but unfortunately not good enough to hold a conversation.
What do you like about working in Cambridge most?
SF: Cambridge is a beautiful historic city, it’s a pleasure to walk along the road each morning and see King’s College Chapel beyond the trees. If I shelve on North or South Front of the University Library I get a view across the city each morning too. It’s an honour to work for such an esteemed seat of learning.
Best day at work?
SF: Probably being appointed to any of my temporary promotions, but my promotion into English Cataloguing was a great feeling.
Worst day at work?
SF: Each time one of my temporary promotions came to an end and I had to return back to square one. But I always stayed positive and knew another opportunity would come along.
What is/are your most favourite composer(s)/type(s) of music?
SF: Anybody who has known me in the last 8 years will know that I am a nut for Green Day. I was raised through the 70s to the 90s on a heavy diet of pop and chart rock, but around 2005 some magazine covers and compilation CDs introduced me to Green Day and other alternative rock and pop-punk bands, and that totally changed what I listen to. These bands rarely get mainstream radio play because they dare to be different, and sometimes confrontational, but when I heard their music I felt an immediate connection, and a teenage-like obsession for music has been reborn. Seeing bands like Green Day play live are some of my happiest experiences, and through the joy and passion of their music I have discovered a whole new side of me. Since making the music of Green Day, My Chemical Romance and other bands, part of my life, it’s really brought me out of myself, I am a more confident person because somehow they finally helped me find out who I really am. Just shows how music really can help you find where you belong.
Where did you live before moving to the region?
SF: As a baby, I originally lived in a tiny village on the Suffolk/Essex border, then moved to Sawston, near Cambridge when I was 5. I lived there with my parents until I moved to my own home in Bar Hill in 1994.
What is/are your instrument(s)?
SF: Sadly, I never learned one, unless you count a (very) brief flirtation with the recorder, when I was at primary school. Instead I joined the school choir, we even won a children’s choir competition, and there began a lifelong love of singing. Many years later when I came to work at Cambridge University Library, I enjoyed the UL Choir that performs Christmas carols each year, then, remembering my childhood choir experience, I joined up one year when they were recruiting new members, so I have been a regular member of the soprano line-up of the UL Choir for quite some time now.
Sam Freeman works in the English Cataloguing Department and the Music Department of Cambridge University Library.