Q: Jennifer, explain your role with Olin Library as the library
assistant for Scores & Recordings/World Music Archives.
A: Currently my duties include helping to oversee access services for the
department such as circulation, reserves, dubbing requests and
stack maintenance; the processing and cataloging of new commercial scores
and recordings for Scores & Recordings, original cataloging of World Music
Archives materials; helping students, faculty and community members with
research inquiries; and helping train and supervise about two dozen
undergraduate and graduate student workers. I also serve on two library
groups, the Library Technicians Group and the Library Management Team.
Q: When did you come to Wesleyan?
A: I actually first came to Wesleyan in 1980 as part of the class of ’84. I
was hired in 1991 into a grant-funded position in the World Music Archives
because of my ethnomusicology background in Javanese gamelan and experience
working in the Archives as a graduate student. My role at that time was to
help establish preservation and processing procedures in the Archives.
Q: Explain what the Scores & Recordings collection entails.
A: Scores & Recordings is commonly thought of as the music library. As
you can tell from the name, the collection consists of scores, or printed
music, and recordings. Books about music are considered part of the Olin
Library collection and are housed in the central Olin stacks.
Q: And how does this differ from the World Music Archives?
A: The World Music Archives collection is part of Scores
Whereas the general Scores & Recordings collection consists of published,
commercially available material, the Archives recordings are
non-commercial, often unique field recordings from around the world, and are valuable resources for music scholars.
Q: How do you preserve the collections’ materials?
A: We keep Archives originals and listening copies in an environmentally
controlled storeroom in Scores & Recordings and preservation copies in the
new compact storage area in the basement of the Science Library. Fifteen
years ago, most of our originals were on reel-to-reel tape and cassette, and
we dubbed all recordings onto reel-to-reel tape for preservation and made
cassettes for listening. Currently, we make CD copies for listening and save
sound files to hard disk. Some recordings, such as recent concert
recordings, never have physical originals. They come to us as electronic
Q: How are Scores & Recordings and World Music Archives items accessed?
A: Scores & Recordings and World Music Archives items can be found through Caleb, the library
catalog. Patrons can request that Archives recordings be retrieved from the
store room during the day on weekdays and listen to them in-house in the
Scores & Recordings
listening rooms. Most scores are in open stacks and can be browsed and most
can be charged out. The commercial recording collection includes compact
discs, cassettes, and LPs. Compact discs can circulate outside of the
library, but are housed in the Scores & Recordings office and need to be
requested by call number from staff at the service window. Students can
browse the cassette and LP collections, but only faculty, staff, and
graduate students can charge them out. We are located on the third floor of Olin.
Q: What types of collections does Wesleyan own?
A: Wesleyan scores range from solo piano and instrumental music to chamber
music to symphonies, operas and Broadway musicals, hymnals, song books, jazz
standards, among others. Recordings range from classical to jazz to rock to
sound effects but are particularly strong in world music. Important World Music Archive collections include
Dr. David McAllester's Navajo collection, one of the largest in the world; the
only recordings in the United States of the “Ulahingan,” an epic of the
Bagobo people in the Philippines; Iranian, Japanese, Spanish, Shetland
Islands, Greek, Rhodesian -- now Zimbabwe -- mbira music, North Indian
music; a Fats Waller collection; 30 years of performances from the Town
Crier Café in Pawling, N.Y., and exceptional collections of Indonesian and
South Indian, or Karnatak, music, which are two specialties of the World
Music Program at Wesleyan.
Q: Who uses this collection?
A: We primarily serve the Wesleyan community, but outside researchers are
welcome. We receive many inquiries from around the world; for example, a
researcher in Thailand has worked with our Fats Waller collection.
Q: In 1986, you received a M.A. in world music from Wesleyan.
A: In my master’s thesis, “Learning Javanese Gamelan: A Cross-Cultural
Experience,” I examined how music is learned in different cultures and
across cultures. I’m actually an ABD – or all but dissertation status - in
ethnomusicology from Wesleyan, but took a break to work and raise a family.
Because my career has taken a library turn, I just started a fully online
Master of Library and Information Science program through the University of
Q: What else is on your music resume? Do you play any instruments?
A: I got into music via my mother who insisted I study piano. My
undergraduate degree focused on piano performance, but the amazing
opportunities to listen to and play a wide variety of music from around the
world at Wesleyan soon drew me into world music and ethnomusicology.
Q: What is your favorite genre of music?
A: I like listening to music of all kinds. I'm fortunate to get to listen to snippets of
music during the day depending on the projects that I am working on.
Q: In addition to your job, you are on the Governing Board of the Friends of
the Wesleyan Library. What is your role with this position and briefly
explain who the Friends are?
A: The Friends of the Wesleyan Library is a community of readers dedicated
to celebrating and enjoying books of all kinds from vellum bound manuscripts
to paperbacks to the latest digital innovation. The Friends raise funds to
support important library projects, such as the cataloging of “hidden”
collections, those collections which are inaccessible because they have been
waiting for funding for processing, and hosts two events a year to enrich
the campus dialogue related to the book and other types of information.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working in Olin Library?
A: I appreciate the people at Wesleyan who care about the world and the
community and pour their energy into making the world a better place. I also
like the vibrancy of the intellectual and cultural offerings here—the
opportunities to take classes, attend lectures and concerts, and participate
in creative collaborations. My library colleagues are wonderful, warm,
supportive, and fun, as well as intellectually stimulating.
Q: Who are the key people you work with in Scores & Recordings?
A: I work with Alec McLane, the music librarian, and Jody Cormack
Viswanathan, another music library assistant. Both are talented musicians
and have broad academic backgrounds in music and experience in music
technology so it is great working as a team.
Q: Aside from music, what are your hobbies or interests?
A: I love reading when I get the chance, but most of my “free time” is
devoted to Snow School PTO and Middletown High School PTA activities, and
the church school at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden. Some day
I’ll get back to other hobbies.
Q: Tell me about your family.
A: My husband Peter, a multi-talented musician and Aussie by birth, is
conductor of the Wesleyan Wind Ensemble, and is currently completing his
dissertation at Wesleyan on the didjeridu, an Australian instrument. He also
teaches at Thomas Edison Middle School in Meriden and for the Green Street
Arts Center. We have three terrific children who keep us on our toes and
make life extra interesting, Emma, Thomas and Sonya.