MusiCB3: What has your road to librarianship been?
When I was a child I visited the local public library with my parents pretty much every week – I would happily wander around it for hours, and always came back home laden with books (they were mostly Roald Dahl stories and books about ponies at this point, if I remember rightly…). Despite this, the possibility of working in librarianship never really occurred to me until after finishing my music degree and realising that I missed being surrounded by interesting music resources! I then did some volunteering work in a music library, which was great experience and confirmed my interest in working in libraries. I began a distance learning MA in Information and Library Studies from Aberystwyth University, and shortly after starting that was also lucky enough to get a one-year traineeship job at Essex University Library.
Before working at the UL/Pendlebury Music Collections, where have you been?
After finishing my music degree from the University of Newcastle, I spent a couple of years doing a philosophy diploma at the University of Durham, playing piano for a local musicals society, working in a greengrocers, and volunteering in the music library of The Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle. After that I moved down to Colchester to work as a trainee in the Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex.
What do you like most about the music collections?
I really like the collection of sheet music at the Pendlebury, and the way it is geared towards practical music making. At the UL I really enjoy the fact that the collections are so huge that everywhere you turn there is bound to be something you’ve never come across before. At both libraries I feel that I’m learning a lot through beginning to familiarise myself with the collections.
Do you read any foreign languages?
I’m afraid not! I have just started trying to teach myself a bit of Dutch, but it’s slow progress so far…
Best day at work?
Any day when I feel that I’ve been of help to someone.
Worst day at work?
Maybe the day when I was moving a section of books from one part of the library to another, and had completely filled a big shelving trolley with these very carefully, so that they would still be in order when I got them to where they were going. What I hadn’t noticed was that, as it happened, one side of the trolley had all the big heavy books on it, whilst the other was loaded with much lighter ones. I then tried to wheel it round a corner… Luckily, no one was hit by the resulting avalanche of books!
Favourite composers/types of music?
I listen to quite a wide range of music. It’s very difficult to choose favourites, and I go through phases of what I listen to most, but I do tend to especially enjoy music that I can play/sing in. For piano music a few favourite composers are Bach, Chopin, and Debussy, and for vocal music, Dowland, Schubert, Vaughan Williams, Britten…I sang in a performance of Britten’s War Requiem last year as part of the University of Essex Choir, which was amazing. Other favourites include folk groups such as The Unthanks, anything that you can ceilidh to, a lot of rock, Edith Piaf, Noel Coward, music hall, the fingerstyle playing of guitarists such as Chet Atkins and Tommy Emmanuel…and I have a partiality for Gilbert and Sullivan.
What are your instruments?
Piano. Though I also enjoy singing in choirs, and dabble in playing the treble viol, guitar, and violin.
What do you like about working in Cambridge most?
There is so much music going on here! I am looking forward to exploring Cambridge more and getting involved in concert-going, and maybe finding a choir to sing in.
Any hidden talents?
I can ride a unicycle…as long as there isn’t too much in my way and I don’t have to turn corners!