I don’t stamp books!

What, people ask, does a music librarian do? I suppose you lend music. You must play a lot of music. Do you read a lot of books, too?

Just supposing you were contemplating a career in music librarianship, let me tell you about a day in the life of a college music librarian.

I’ve been asked to talk to doctoral students about bibliographical databases. The choice is between two we don’t subscribe to, and two that are free. One of these needs Firefox as the browser. For me, this meant uploading various different software packages and starting to get my head around them. After that, the document that started out as an introduction to the subject, ended up as a brief report on the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. And I still haven’t planned the seminar for those unsuspecting doctors-in-waiting. I think I may have to take my own laptop in order to show off the package that I used myself, in my own doctoral researches.

I’ve had an exchange of emails with the support-line for Mendeley, and – simultaneously – email correspondence about Shibboleth logins to electronic resources; about music and book purchase requests; about the best way of cataloguing journals; and setting up a new area in our library VLN pages.

Coffee-time was spent learning how to pronounce Gaelic song-titles for a talk I’m giving this weekend. But then again, I am a musicologist as well as a librarian, so what goes on in my spare time isn’t really part of a typical day!

I left at 5 pm – office hours are an advantage – not having catalogued a single book, and having barely looked at a crotchet or a quaver all day. Though I did find a Christmas carol that someone was looking for. Such is the life of a college music librarian!


About Karen Mcaulay

Karen McAulay divides her time between librarianship and musicology. 2012-15, was seconded part-time to an AHRC funded project into Scottish fiddle tune collections, contributing bibliographical and musicological data to the Historical Music of Scotland website http://hms.scot (blog http://www.music.arts.gla.ac.uk/bassculture/). She's currently researching the University of St Andrews' historic music copyright collection, & was recently awarded an AHRC networking grant to extend this research nationally. As well as speaking on her research specialism, she is also in demand to talk about research skills and her career as a part-time researcher.

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