MusiCB3: What has your road to librarianship been?
It was a short and uneventful, if rather serendipitous one. I’d just finished a music degree and PGCE, and knew I didn’t want to teach, but beyond that had no idea what I was going to do next. I happened to be in the UL looking up books for an assignment, and checked the job pages completely on a whim. I saw the Pendlebury was advertising for a
temporary assistant and went for it, thinking it could at least delay the decision-making a bit longer, and ended up absolutely loving it! I then remained working fulltime in libraries while earning my librarianship masters part-time through Aberystwyth University, which I
finally completed this April.
Before working at for the UL/Pendlebury Music Collections, where have you been?
The last six years I’ve worked in the Fitzwilliam Museum Reference Library. Before that I was based in the Squire Law Library, and before that I was in the Pendlebury, so I’ve come full circle (triangle?) really.
What do you like most about the Pendlebury Library/the University Library’s Music Collections?
I used the collections as a springboard for my library degree dissertation, and what really struck me at the time was that when I talked to the people who interact with the collections, I discovered how enthusiastic and passionate they were about them. All had widely different interests, but there was something inspiring and unique in the
collections for each of them, and that’s something really special about the collections. They’re so diverse, and there’s so much more to them than you’d believe unless you’ve ever gone on one of their “behind-the-scenes” tours (thoroughly recommended!).
Do you read any foreign languages?
I did GCSE French, and a bit of Latin and German at school, which was rather a long time ago now, but what I remember is still useful now. I’ve kept up a sort of working vocabulary through my work with international law resources at the Squire, and having to source and
catalogue art books from other countries (mainly Italy, France and the Netherlands).
What do you like about working in Cambridge most?
I’ve never worked anywhere else, so I don’t really know how it compares, but I really like how it feels – that it’s a university with a town attached, rather than the other way round. The university makes up such a big part of life in the city, and I love being surrounded by people who love learning. The pretty buildings don’t hurt, either!
Best day at work?
Any day where I can come away thinking “what I have done today has helped someone” – that’s a good day. So that can be anything from actually helping a reader to cataloguing something that I know someone will want to see.
Worst day at work?
I think the worst is when I feel that a reader has gone away disappointed. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s a bit like l’esprit d’escalier, when I think “Could I have done this differently?” or “I should have tried this too,” and the reader has already left. This
happened most recently a couple of weeks ago, but luckily the reader had left his contact details, so when I finally found the information he needed, I could at least let him know!
What is/are your most favourite composer(s)/type(s) of music?
I appreciate music so much more if I’ve played it than if I’ve just listened to it, so I tend to prefer orchestral more than choral or chamber music, but I have pretty eclectic taste and listen to most genres. As a keyboard player I love to play Bach and Rachmaninov, for orchestral music I adore Beethoven, Vaughan Williams and a lot of Russian composers. As part of CUMS I performed Britten’s War Requiem in Coventry Cathedral on the 60th anniversary of its bombing, which was an incredible experience. In my wind band, we play lots of wonderful music by composers like Eric Whitacre and Nigel Hess, and I also enjoy big band jazz, bebop and, dare I say it, even some chart music!
Where did you live before moving to the region?
In a leafy suburb of Surrey called West Ewell, not far from Chessington World of Adventures.
What is/are your instrument(s)?
Piano and oboe are my main instruments, but I love ensemble playing, so I’ve also picked up the viola since orchestras tend to need violas more than another oboe! I’ve also had a go at the trombone, and have a wonderful green plastic one (which is much nicer for those really cold rehearsal venues!).
Any hidden talents?
Well, I used to be quite good at archery, but I’ve not done it properly for years. Too many musical commitments!