What does a Sound Recording Librarian do?
I oversee our library’s sound and visual media collections, which range from early disc recordings over a century old, to newly released digital AV content. My work includes selecting new recordings that support our music department and students, setting priorities for preserving and digitizing our older recordings, answering research questions, and teaching and outreach. I especially enjoy the outreach part, and right now I’m very focused on new ways of making our collections accessible for research.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the Music Library?
Having 9th Wonder post photos of our Classic Crates hip hop collection to his Instagram account. We talk a lot about discoverability in libraries these days. That was it!
What project are you most proud of that you’ve worked on in the Music Library?
Our library has a large collection of early Arab and Arab-American 78rpm shellac disc records that was undiscoverable for many years. As of last year, we have catalogued around 550 of these in detail (in Arabic) in our HOLLIS catalog. It was a great collaborative project that succeeded due to the efforts of many others besides me, including three grad students (Farah Zahra, Farah El-Sharif and Faris Casewit) and and their language work over several years, a Middle East colleague in Widener Library (Nada Hussein) who did the initial training, and our own music cataloger (Anne Adams) who prepared the data for the catalog.
What’s your favorite library-related moment in a movie, novel or TV show?
I think I have to pick a song on this one. “Faster Pussycat To The Library!” by Sam Phillips: “If you don’t know what to do, I’ll look it up for you.”
Where do you find comfort and strength in a scary and unknown time?
Harvard offered a wonderful mindfulness and compassion meditation class this summer for library staff called Skills for Inner and Outer Belonging. It made a big difference for me, and I’ve continued this practice for at least 15 minutes in the mornings before work.
Is there a collection at Harvard Library that you’d like to see digitized and made freely available to the world?
It’s tempting to pick one archival collection, but I would have to choose all the rare and still digitally unavailable “commercial” recordings that we have in our recordings collections, especially our Archive of World Music.