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Tag: Meet the problem solvers (Page 2 of 4)

Meet the Problem Solvers: Andrew Wilson, Access Services Librarian

What does an Access Services Librarian do?

Access Services is a very new subdiscipline of librarianship in that it has a label and a name now: it’s only in the last five years that it’s been a recognized specialty in the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin: the various ways that we get materials into people’s hands or into their computers or into their eyes or into their ears. It encompasses things like deep storage, resource sharing and circulation. We are often on the front line of managing student workers and we frequently play a big role in space, and space planning. It’s kind of a catch-all for things that always existed but never under the same umbrella. It’s quite a variety. I think that’s one of the things that’s attractive about the field: not only is there never a dull moment but you’re usually not stuck doing the same thing for any long period of time.

How long have you been in this position?

Since 2007, as far as the Loeb Music Library is concerned [Andrew’s position takes him to several libraries on the Harvard campus].

Have you always done this job at the Music Library or did you start in a different position?

It was called different things but I’ve always done the same job. I’ve considered myself really lucky to be able to do so because of the stability it’s brought to my family and financial life, but also because it’s really what I enjoy the most about librarianship. We have the most contact with patrons, We get to learn what our students are studying, we get to learn what our faculty are researching, we get to hear about new ways of distributing information. It’s a really dynamic field that is very focused on our users.

What’s your favorite thing about the Music Library?

Given that I’ve been a professional musician [double bass] for almost 35 years, I really enjoy being able to put my subject knowledge to work in my professional life.

What project are you most proud of that you’ve worked on in the Music Library?

One of the most significant things with which I’ve been involved in the Music Library was discovering a major mold outbreak in time to save the books. That happened in 2006. Somebody came up from the basement stacks and said “It smells kind of musty down there, you might want to take a look.” Before I knew it, we were hiring a company in Texas to hand-clean 10,000 books.

Otherwise, I’m just proud to be, for so many people, the face of the library: to be able to get to know our constituents so well that often people will ask for me by name. I’m very proud of that.

What do you love most about your work?

Again, it’s the human contact.

What aspects of pandemic librarianship do you think might endure?

Converting to all-electronic access for course reserves has been a major challenge but overall it’s been extremely successful and has been a big factor in driving the academic experience forward during these unusual circumstances.

Where do you find comfort in these strange times?

Well, certainly with my wife and son. We also succumbed to what must have been a federal law that was passed during the pandemic that all empty-nest American couples had to adopt a dog, so we’re enjoying that a great deal. I’ve joked for many years that I was a dog person trapped in a cat marriage. I was finally able to get my dog in December, and that’s been a lot of fun.

A chocolate lab puppy named Woody is looking up at the camera. There is snow on the ground.

Andrew Wilson’s puppy, Woody

Thank you, Andrew! This interview was conducted by Christina Linklater on March 17th, 2021. It has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Meet the Problem Solvers: Lingwei Qiu, Library Assistant for Print Music

What does a Library Assistant for Print Music do?

I am a library assistant and work on special material: music scores at the Loeb Music Library. I am managed by ITS (this is Harvard Library’s centralized Information and Technical Services department), but in general, I work with this library directly for print music acquisitions and cataloging. Most of the cataloging work is copy cataloging, but I also work on the original cataloging for some Asian language materials. Besides these, I add music journals to the collection on a daily basis.

How long have you been in this position?

I have been in this position for 15 years.

Have you always done this job at the Music Library or did you start in a different position?

This is the only job I have worked at the Music Library.

What’s your favorite thing about the Music Library?

My favorite thing about the Music Library is the challenge and opportunity. The challenge helps you to understand your current limits and how far you can expand them. The opportunity allows you to create a path towards expanding said limits. The most memorable moment for me was when I was asked to take notes at one of my first staff meetings. I had only been on the job for a few months, I was not able to speak fluent English and did not understand most of workflows in the library. However, I made it with the help of a friendly colleague. I was very appreciative of this and it made me believe that I could do more for the library in the future.

What project are you most proud of that you’ve worked on in the Music Library?

The project I am most proud of that I have worked on in the Music Library is not directly connected with my job, but it was only possible because I worked at the Music Library. 2015 was the centennial anniversary of Chinese piano music, and I curated an exhibition on this topic. I used my experience in working with music materials and the foundation of my Chinese cultural background (especially Chinese piano music) to introduce a unique cultural and musical world to the Harvard community. It was very successful. The Harvard Gazette reported on the exhibition. In March 2016, pianists George Li and Alex Beyer played some works from the exhibition, transferring and transforming its contents from paper to sound.

Do you have any non-work projects completed or ongoing that you are proud of and would like to share?

I recently wrote a biography of the Chinese-American composer Lei Liang, a Rome Prize winner and 2021 Grawemeyer Award recipient. In the tumultuous year that was 2020, it was finally published as a significant part of the book Confluence of a Hundred Streams (written in Chinese), published by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Press.

Where do you find comfort and strength in a scary and unknown time?

As a music lover and a pianist, music has always been my comfort and peace amongst the chaos. To me, it brings happiness and hope.

What do you love most about your work?

Working with all kinds of music and constantly being able to learn more.


Lingwei Qiu is wearing a black and white top. She is holding a red score by Lei Liang entitled A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams.

Lingwei Qiu in the Technical Services workroom following a 2019 class presentation on the music of Lei Liang.

Thank you to Joe Kinzer, Senior Curatorial Assistant in the Archive of World Music, for contributing this post.

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