Music Librarian

Rachel, 28, has a bachelor of music degree from the University of Victoria (1996) and a master's of library and information studies (MLIS) from McGill University (2001). She currently works as a music cataloguer for the CBC Toronto Music Library.

Stephanie: What made you decide to become a music librarian? How did you become a music librarian?
I had entered the bachelor of music program out of high school without having any idea what I really wanted to do, and when I graduated I was still in that situation. After working at a CD store for a couple of years, I realized that I needed to move on and do something else. I was looking for something that wasn't directly in the music field (not performing or education or anything like that), and after a little research I came up with librarianship.

Stephanie: What does a music librarian do?
My job is mainly to catalogue the recordings that are used for broadcast - meaning to enter all the information from the discs into the database, as well as do research to make sure the information is complete. The producers then use this information to create their shows. Other duties of music librarians here are to select and receive new materials, select and catalogue reference books, and help the patrons.

Stephanie: What do you like about your job?
It's my first full-time librarian job, and it's actually very close to the job I thought I would be working towards - I never expected to get a position as a music cataloguer right away. Plus, it's a small library, so the work I do is varied. In addition to cataloguing, I also deal with the periodicals, do ordering, and maintain the Intranet site for the library.

Stephanie: What is your least favourite part of the job?
Probably every librarian's least favourite part of the job: working under the constraints of the budget. There is so much we would like to do, and so much that we can envision as being beneficial to our users, but we are restricted by our budget.

Stephanie: What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a music librarian?
It's very useful to have a degree in music, but I think you'll have an edge over other job candidates if you have knowledge/interest in areas of music other than classical (jazz, popular, world). These are the fastest growing areas in most music libraries, and many people are quite lost and don't know where to start collecting or researching.

Stephanie: What kind of an education do you need to be a music librarian? What kind of education did you get?
Although there are many jobs available in libraries for people of various levels of education, these days most librarian positions require an MLIS (master's of library and information studies) or the equivalent. I also have a BMus, which is definitely useful if you want to be a music librarian, although it's not always required. Many music librarian jobs, especially in academic settings, also call for a master's degee in music, which is something I'm thinking about.

Stephanie: What is your favourite piece of music, and why?
Although it's not where my formal training lies, my great love is Broadway musicals. So I think I'd have to give "Weekend in the Country" from A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim as my favourite piece. Why? Fantastically clever lyrics, rhythmically and melodically complex, and very sing-able.

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