Ever since I’ve been at this job, I’ve been the Music liaison. And up until this point, the (very few… as in, three) instruction sessions I’ve done have been focused on literature about music. So up until this point, I’ve been able to teach myself most of what I needed to know. This isn’t to say I’ve done a stellar job, or anything, but I haven’t out-right failed, either. Well, for the last year I’ve been meaning to move this along a little so that I could begin to actually serve my Music faculty and students rather than catch up all the time. And I had the added impetus of a new kind of instruction session coming up… the kind that moves beyond music criticism and into the realm of the music itself.
So today I spent some time at St. Olaf in their music library. That’s right, an entire library devoted to music and research about music, complete with a real live music librarian. This librarian generously took time out of her morning to begin at the beginning with me. Who knew that the LC M classification was so very logical? M100s are solo instruments, M200s are for two instruments… and so on. I also learned about editions (authorized and otherwise), about how to identify quality recordings, and about thematic catalogs. I’ve never been so jazzed about the prospect of developing some actual expertise in this area! (The only thing is, I think I’d have to learn German if I really wanted to become an expert. All of the most authoritative sources seem to be in German.)
When I got back to my own library, I immediately had to run downstairs to our music section and see which of the sources I’d learned about we actually had in our collection. And to my delight, I could finally recognize types of sources on the shelves just by walking past them! For me, this is the experience I can only hope to give my students when they come to see me. Walls and walls of books and a maze of online sources suddenly differentiate themselves into a structure and an order. They all fall into place.
Of course, I’ve just started to scratch the surface of music librarianship, but I feel like I’ve been handed the key to a whole new world. And it’s a beautiful world.