Library Assistant Oversees Wesleyan’s Music Collections

Jennifer Thom Hadley ’84, MA ‘86, library assistant for Scores & Recordings/World Music Archives, studied Javanese gamelan at Wesleyan.
Posted 03/02/07

Q: Jennifer, explain your role with Olin Library as the library assistant for Scores & Recordings/World Music Archives.

A: Currently my duties include helping to oversee access services for the department such as circulation, reserves, dubbing requests and stack maintenance; the processing and cataloging of new commercial scores and recordings for Scores & Recordings, original cataloging of World Music Archives materials; helping students, faculty and community members with research inquiries; and helping train and supervise about two dozen undergraduate and graduate student workers. I also serve on two library groups, the Library Technicians Group and the Library Management Team.

Q: When did you come to Wesleyan?

A: I actually first came to Wesleyan in 1980 as part of the class of ’84. I was hired in 1991 into a grant-funded position in the World Music Archives because of my ethnomusicology background in Javanese gamelan and experience working in the Archives as a graduate student. My role at that time was to help establish preservation and processing procedures in the Archives.

Q: Explain what the Scores & Recordings collection entails.

A: Scores & Recordings is commonly thought of as the music library. As you can tell from the name, the collection consists of scores, or printed music, and recordings. Books about music are considered part of the Olin Library collection and are housed in the central Olin stacks.

Q: And how does this differ from the World Music Archives?

A: The World Music Archives collection is part of Scores & Recordings. Whereas the general Scores & Recordings collection consists of published, commercially available material, the Archives recordings are non-commercial, often unique field recordings from around the world, and are valuable resources for music scholars.

Q: How do you preserve the collections’ materials?

A: We keep Archives originals and listening copies in an environmentally controlled storeroom in Scores & Recordings and preservation copies in the new compact storage area in the basement of the Science Library. Fifteen years ago, most of our originals were on reel-to-reel tape and cassette, and we dubbed all recordings onto reel-to-reel tape for preservation and made cassettes for listening. Currently, we make CD copies for listening and save sound files to hard disk. Some recordings, such as recent concert recordings, never have physical originals. They come to us as electronic sound files.

Q: How are Scores & Recordings and World Music Archives items accessed?

A: Scores & Recordings and World Music Archives items can be found through Caleb, the library catalog. Patrons can request that Archives recordings be retrieved from the store room during the day on weekdays and listen to them in-house in the Scores & Recordings listening rooms. Most scores are in open stacks and can be browsed and most can be charged out. The commercial recording collection includes compact discs, cassettes, and LPs. Compact discs can circulate outside of the library, but are housed in the Scores & Recordings office and need to be requested by call number from staff at the service window. Students can browse the cassette and LP collections, but only faculty, staff, and graduate students can charge them out. We are located on the third floor of Olin.

Q: What types of collections does Wesleyan own?

A: Wesleyan scores range from solo piano and instrumental music to chamber music to symphonies, operas and Broadway musicals, hymnals, song books, jazz standards, among others. Recordings range from classical to jazz to rock to sound effects but are particularly strong in world music. Important World Music Archive collections include Dr. David McAllester’s Navajo collection, one of the largest in the world; the only recordings in the United States of the “Ulahingan,” an epic of the Bagobo people in the Philippines; Iranian, Japanese, Spanish, Shetland Islands, Greek, Rhodesian — now Zimbabwe — mbira music, North Indian music; a Fats Waller collection; 30 years of performances from the Town Crier Café in Pawling, N.Y., and exceptional collections of Indonesian and South Indian, or Karnatak, music, which are two specialties of the World Music Program at Wesleyan.

Q: Who uses this collection?

A: We primarily serve the Wesleyan community, but outside researchers are welcome. We receive many inquiries from around the world; for example, a researcher in Thailand has worked with our Fats Waller collection.

Q: In 1986, you received a M.A. in world music from Wesleyan.

A: In my master’s thesis, “Learning Javanese Gamelan: A Cross-Cultural Experience,” I examined how music is learned in different cultures and across cultures. I’m actually an ABD – or all but dissertation status – in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan, but took a break to work and raise a family. Because my career has taken a library turn, I just started a fully online Master of Library and Information Science program through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Q: What else is on your music resume? Do you play any instruments?

A: I got into music via my mother who insisted I study piano. My undergraduate degree focused on piano performance, but the amazing opportunities to listen to and play a wide variety of music from around the world at Wesleyan soon drew me into world music and ethnomusicology.

Q: What is your favorite genre of music?

A: I like listening to music of all kinds. I’m fortunate to get to listen to snippets of music during the day depending on the projects that I am working on.

Q: In addition to your job, you are on the Governing Board of the Friends of the Wesleyan Library. What is your role with this position and briefly explain who the Friends are?

A: The Friends of the Wesleyan Library is a community of readers dedicated to celebrating and enjoying books of all kinds from vellum bound manuscripts to paperbacks to the latest digital innovation. The Friends raise funds to support important library projects, such as the cataloging of “hidden” collections, those collections which are inaccessible because they have been waiting for funding for processing, and hosts two events a year to enrich the campus dialogue related to the book and other types of information.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working in Olin Library?

A: I appreciate the people at Wesleyan who care about the world and the community and pour their energy into making the world a better place. I also like the vibrancy of the intellectual and cultural offerings here—the opportunities to take classes, attend lectures and concerts, and participate in creative collaborations. My library colleagues are wonderful, warm, supportive, and fun, as well as intellectually stimulating.

Q: Who are the key people you work with in Scores & Recordings?

A: I work with Alec McLane, the music librarian, and Jody Cormack Viswanathan, another music library assistant. Both are talented musicians and have broad academic backgrounds in music and experience in music technology so it is great working as a team.

Q: Aside from music, what are your hobbies or interests?

A: I love reading when I get the chance, but most of my “free time” is devoted to Snow School PTO and Middletown High School PTA activities, and the church school at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden. Some day I’ll get back to other hobbies.

Q: Tell me about your family.

A: My husband Peter, a multi-talented musician and Aussie by birth, is conductor of the Wesleyan Wind Ensemble, and is currently completing his dissertation at Wesleyan on the didjeridu, an Australian instrument. He also teaches at Thomas Edison Middle School in Meriden and for the Green Street Arts Center. We have three terrific children who keep us on our toes and make life extra interesting, Emma, Thomas and Sonya.


By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor