• Libr 200: Technology in a Performance Library

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    The importance of modern technology in academic music libraries is clear. The music recordings in their collection, which professors and students rely on, are increasingly being stored as digital reserves rather than records or CDs. But how does digital technology matter in performance libraries? Does it help those librarians serve their information-seeking community, too?

     

    The answer can be found in Patrick Lo’s 2014 article An Interview with Matthew Naughtin, Music Librarian at the San Francisco Ballet. This interview is effectively a follow-up to Lo’s earlier interview with the Metropolitan Opera’s chief librarian Robert Sutherland, despite being published in a different journal. It covers much the same ground as the Sutherland interview, describing a performance librarian’s responsibilities, though it outlines several factors unique to ballet librarianship and foreign to opera companies. But it also discusses a factor not emphasized by Sutherland, but which is probably universal to all performance libraries today: the benefits of digitization.

     

    One of a performance librarian’s main jobs is to preserve sheet music, proofread it, and edit it to make sure it’s completely error-free. This is obviously a difficult task to do by hand. But with the advent of music notation software, scores can now be computer-engraved into PDF files (Lo & Naughtin, 2014, p. 153). The editing work can now be done on computer, and multiple digital copies can be made of a single error-free score.

     

    Performance librarians also need to distribute sheet music to every musician in the company, as well as to fellow music librarians with whom they collaborate. Traditional mail is slow and not always reliable as a distribution method. Though Naughtin still uses it when he needs to, he prefers sending PDF files by e-mail (Lo & Naughtin, 2014, p. 146), and I’m sure that many other librarians agree with him. He also enthusiastically praises the San Francisco Ballet IT Department’s new website (Lo & Naughtin, 2014, p. 154), which will let musicians upload not only sheet music PDFs, but MP3 audio files onto their iPhones and iPads, so they can practice their music with both visual and audio guidance.

     

    It’s clear from this interview that digitization is bringing ease and innovation to every subset of music librarianship. I’m sure that within a few decades, or even years, few librarians will even remember a time when digital technology wasn’t essential to their work.

     

    References

    Lo, P. & Naughtin, M. (2014). A conversation with Matthew Naughtin, music librarian at the San Francisco Ballet. Music Reference Services Quarterly, 17(3), 142-168. doi: 10.1080/10588167.2014.932677

  • Libr 200: Blog Book Review

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    The Future of Music by David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard is a must-read for any music lover who’s ever worried about the fate of his/her beloved art form. So often in recent years we’ve heard that the music industry is dying, with the collapse of the leading record stores (Tower, Virgin, etc.) and decline of CD sales cited as proof, and the phenomenon of digital distribution is blamed. But Kusek and Leonhard offer a much more optimistic viewpoint. They argue that while yes, the record industry is dying, the music industry is alive and well. The record industry, they claim, relies on an outdated top-down business model and copyright laws that chiefly benefit the record labels, not the musicians, and certainly not customers who have to pay for overpriced CDs. The music industry’s future, they argue, lies in digital distribution. Copyright laws will change, file sharing won’t be criminalized, consumers will be increasingly able to access music of their choice at little cost, and more new artists than ever will be exposed to the public and launch their careers without needing millions from a major label first. Music will become “like water; ubiquitous and free-flowing” (Kusek and Leonard, 2005, p. 3).

     

    What these changes to the music industry will mean for music librarians, I don’t know. Music libraries will obviously rely more heavily on digital reserves, as they already increasingly do. While I doubt their collections of vinyl and CDs will ever be irrelevant (particularly since copyright issues and other factors will keep certain recordings from ever becoming available digitally), they’ll presumably become increasingly less important as the demand for digital music increases and the libraries rely ever more on computers and software. But regardless of how libraries are effected, it’s reassuring to read a counter-argument to claims that the music industry is doomed. According to this book, the industry’s format is simply changing, as systems that distribute information always change over time.

     

    References

    Kusek, D., & Leonhard, G. (2005). The future of music: Manifesto for the digital music revolution. Boston, MA: Berklee Press.

  • “Dido and Aeneas/Bluebeard’s Castle” Final Dress Rehearsal at the LA Opera (October 23, 2014)

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    Cast (Dido and Aeneas)

    Dido: Paula Murrihy

    Aeneas: Liam Bonner

    Belinda: Kateryna Kasper

    Sorceress: John Holiday

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Libr 200: Librarian Stereotypes Meme

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    Each of the first five images I chose represents a classic stereotype about librarians: the “old maid,” the “enforcer,” the “sex object,” the nerdy, pathetic male librarian, and the “walking encyclopedia.” The last image shows information professionals as they really are: ordinary people. Men and women of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds and personalities, who happen to have chosen a career in information.

  • Libr 200: Ethical Issues in Information-Seeking Behavior Studies

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    In a music library, or any library for that matter, it’s essential for librarians to know exactly what patrons want and how they use the available resources. They need that knowledge to improve their services, and as Hursh and Avenarius (2012) write, “Improving services is what librarians are all about” (p. 84). But how should they acquire that knowledge? Attempts to answer that question can lead to ethical issues rearing their heads.

     

    Privacy is always an important issue in library ethics. When conducting studies to determine patron wants and information-seeking patterns, librarians need to take utmost care to respect the participants’ privacy, which can be difficult. For example, when a music library publishes the results of a survey about patrons’ use of online reserves, the interviewees’ answers should be anonymous, with no “personally identifying information,” yet still with “enough specificity to determine whether the reserve recordings were accessed from on campus or off campus” and other important details (Phinney, 2005, p. 12). Ideally, participation in the study should also be “strictly voluntary,” with “no incentives” to make reluctant patrons participate (Phinney, 2005, p. 12). But ideal though that approach may be from an ethical standpoint, it may keep librarians from acquiring all the needed information.

     

    A study of only a select few patrons who choose to be surveyed will offer a less complete portrait of mass information-seeking behaviors than a compulsory study of all patrons would. Furthermore, face-to-face interviews and surveys “can be misleading, because people often say one thing but do another” (Hursh & Avenarius, 2012, p. 85). Some librarians argue that an ethnographic study, combining interviews or surveys with periods of secretly observing everyday patron behavior, “results in a more complete and accurate picture” (Hursh & Avenarius, 2012 p. 85). But this presents an ethical dilemma: is it right for librarians to “spy” on patrons and record their behaviors for a published survey without their knowledge? Hursh and Avenarius (2012) have no qualms with this approach, because “no information [is] recorded that could later be used to identify specific individuals, and there [is] no manipulation of the subjects to get them to act in certain ways” (p. 90), but still, ethical concerns remain.

     

    Librarians who conduct patron studies have a difficult balance to strike: giving maximum respect to patrons’ privacy vs. gaining the most complete and accurate study results. Ultimately the nature of the study, the needed information, and the library itself will have to determine what type of study methods should be used. Librarians will need to observe every factor at stake and determine which side of the dilemma – privacy vs. completeness – should be emphasized to give patrons maximum benefit in the long term.

     

    References

    Hursh, D. W. & Avenarius, C. B. (2013). What do patrons really do in music libraries?: an ethnographic approach to improving library services. Music Reference Service Quarterly, 16(2), 84-108. doi: 10.1080/10588167.2013.787522

     

    Phinney, S. (2005). Can’t I just listen to that online? Music Reference Service Quarterly, 9(2), 1-33. doi: 10.1300/J116v09n02_01

  • “The Magic Flute (Impempe Yomlingo)” at the Broad Stage (October 11, 2014)

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    Cast

    Noluthando Boquana, Mandisi Dyantyis, Thobile Dyasi, Ayanda Eleki, Zamile Gantana, Nontsusa Louw, Sifiso Lupuzi, Pauline Malefane, Bongiwe Mapassa, Zanele Mbatha, Siyasanga Mbuyazwe, Sinethemba Mdena, Zebulon Mmusi, Mhlekazi (WhaWha) Mosiea, Zoleka Mpotsha, Siyanda Ncobo, Cikizwa Ndamase, Busisiwe Ngejane, Zolina Ngejane, Sonwabo Ntshata, Tukela Pepeteka, Luvo Rasemeni, Masakane Sotayisi, Ayanda Tikolo Read the rest of this entry »

  • Libr 200: User Experience at the UCLA Music Library

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    For this week’s blog post, I interviewed two faculty members from UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music. I’ll refer to them as Interviewees #1 and #2. I offered them a survey of five questions regarding their user experience with UCLA’s Music Library. In writing the survey, I kept in mind the emphasis that the lecture and readings place on the importance in libraries of organization, inviting aesthetics, innovation, and understanding of user needs. My goal was to learn whether the UCLA Music Library fully meets those requirements and offers a positive user experience or not, and whether its target community embraces it or prefers other information sources.

     

    I asked the interviewees the following questions:

     

    1. How frequently do you use the Music Library for your information needs?

    Interviewee #1 uses the Library several times a week, while Interviewee #2 uses it only once every few weeks, but uses its website more frequently.

    1. What other information sources do you use? How frequently do you use them compared to the Music Library?

    Interviewee #1 uses online sources such as Wikipedia or Oxford Music Online when he needs to look up information quickly, but the Library is still his primary source. Interviewee #2, on the other hand, uses online sources and her personal book collection daily, more often than she uses the Library.

    1. Does the Music Library have any shortcomings – not just in content, but in terms of organization, aesthetics, etc. – that keep you from using it more frequently than you do?

    Interviewee #1 has no complaints, while Interviewee #2 dislikes the Library’s current website design.

    1. Do you find any aspects of the Music Library outdated? Do you prefer other information sources for being more “contemporary”?

    Neither interviewee considered anything outdated.

    1. What improvements would you suggest that the Music Library make?

    Interviewee #1 said only “Find more money and buy more things!” Interviewee #2 wishes the Library would display the current issues of journals at the entrance, so that anyone who needs them knows instantly when they arrive.

     

    If these two interviews are all indicative of the faculty’s general opinions, then the Music Library’s user experience seems to be essentially positive. The faculty uses it often, finds it “in touch with the times,” and doesn’t have many improvements to suggest. True, there are some areas that the Library may need to rethink, i.e. the website design and the organization of its journal collection. But for the most part, its seems to know its users needs and deliver them.