The focus of my first four and a half years at BGSU has been primarily on access:  access to collections and information about them, access to services, and access to facilities.  As a result, many of my activities have been devoted to increasing the profile, use, and focus of the Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives’ collections.  At the same time, I have striven to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the staff I manage so that we can make the best use of our resources to achieve these goals.

From my first visit to BGSU, it was clear that the ML/SRA’s most critical need was improved access to uncataloged collections.  The first major project in this direction since I began has been the CD Backlog Cataloging Project.  This project was begun as an effort to reduce the backlog of almost 30,000 uncataloged SRA CDs.  In the spring of 2007, Patty Falk and I worked closely with Cataloging to devise a workflow for the combined efforts of the two units to tackle this enormous task.  Simultaneously, ML/SRA employees revised internal workflows to increase efficiency and accuracy of original CD cataloging.  Every student assistant was trained on some aspect of the cataloging process, and all continue to participate in the project.  We are nearing the end of this long-term project, with almost 30,000 items cataloged during this period.  I am exceedingly proud of the efforts of all of the ML/SRA staff and immeasurably grateful for the help we have received from Cataloging.  Once we have caught up with the CD backlog, we will apply the same workflows to our LP backlog and begin to make a clear dent in it.

In an effort to raise the profile of our collections, I have worked to increase our electronic presence by expanding our website (and redesigning it, along with the rest of the University Libraries in 2007 and 2010) and revising, expanding, and adding research guides.  The acquisition of LibGuides has greatly aided this second effort, and we continue to migrate our older research guides to this new platform, revising each extensively as we do so. We have added a blog, a Twitter feed and a Facebook group to create new ways for people to learn about our collections.  The addition of tech savvy employees in our Library Associate II position – Morgan Rich in the 2008-2009 academic year and Liz Tousey since 2009 – has given me the opportunity to share some of these technical duties, and both have created insightful, helpful guides and provided new ideas for implementing social media.  In particular, Liz began the Library Sleevefacing project this past year, an endeavor that has had innumerable benefits for us and our users, including increasing visibility of our collections on campus, forging new relationships with our patrons, and garnering attention for the collection and library at a national level.  We turned this into a live event for the annual Arts Extravaganza in December, and it was a smashing success.

Following the creation of the Center for Excellence in the arts on campus, several of us who have collection development, reference, or instruction duties for the arts began meeting to brainstorm ideas for improving these duties specifically for our student artists.  The first idea, taken up by Gwen Evans, resulted in last year’s graphic novel, The Library After Dark.  We are now in the second phase of the project, a collection of songs about the library, which will follow the same principal as the graphic novel:  merge the media and the message in library instruction to generate content that appeals to multi-modal learners and inspires interest in the library, its collections, and its services.  To this end, I am working with students to create an album of newly composed songs about library topics. Some of these will be particular to BGSU, such as an overview of the collections held here, while others will be usable by other institutions in OhioLINK and beyond. Creative writing students will create song lyrics that illustrate library topics, and student composers will set the lyrics to music, resulting in musical topic overviews that are both “sticky” and entertaining.  Once complete, the collection of songs will be used in library instruction and form the basis of a study to gauge the effectiveness of music for communicating library concepts.  I look forward to the end result of this project, but coordinating the different volunteers has tested by impresario skills, and progress is slower than I would like.

In a time of changing access to information, particularly access to music, students are less inclined to visit the library of their own accord.  To this end, I have been very eager to make our space more accommodating and to make contact with students as early in their academic careers as possible.  I am particularly proud of efforts we have made to give the ML/SRA a bit of a facelift.  Following the gift of a Beatles posters collection in 2006, we requested permission to paint the wall on which they would hang.  This change, though apparently small at first, led to a reassessment of how we were using all of our public space and how we might use it better.  Consequently, we moved our reference desk, reallocated table space for computers, increased patron access to electrical outlets, and scavenged furniture from throughout the library to add some comfortable seating.  Our patrons have responded with extreme enthusiasm – it is still not unusual for a patron to arrive and announce that s/he had been instructed by a friend to come see the music library, and we regularly have non-music students who use our space daily for study.

Increasing bibliographic instruction to undergraduate music students has been something of a struggle, but I am able to conduct new sessions each year.  By providing an orientation session for new faculty, I have had the opportunity to persuade some studio teachers of the value of giving me time to instruct their students about library resources for particular instruments.  For many students, simply learning that the music library exists (and that it is staffed by friendly people!) is a critical first step to gaining an understanding of what we have and how our collections can support their studies.  We also are now a regular part of Music Discovery Day, a preview day specifically for high school music students considering attending BGSU.  We have already seen students from this event in the library again once they have decided to study at BG.

Major changes to the graduate music research class have made teaching much more successful, efficient, and fulfilling. I no longer teach the students in music performance and enjoyed a class of only 24 students this past fall.  The change was only possible through the efforts of the UL Dean’s office and the cooperation of administrators from the College of Musical Arts, and I am very grateful.  Balancing the time for this class with the day-to-day operations of a busy unit is still a challenge, but it is a much more manageable challenge now.  The opportunity to provide our music graduate students in-depth instruction about research, library resources, and writing is invaluable, and it is vastly rewarding to see my students become regular and capable users of the library.

In the coming years, I plan to continue working to increase visibility and availability of our collections and services, particularly as we position ourselves to support The Arts as a Center of Excellence on this campus.

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