Meet the Problem Solvers: Joseph Kinzer, Senior Curatorial Assistant in the Archive of World Music

What does the Senior Curatorial Assistant in the Archive of World Music do? 

I work to preserve and increase accessibility to collections held in the Archive of World Music. I think of these two aspects of archiving as a spectrum, with each side informing the other. When we improve description, adding more context to metadata on the preservation side, this increases discoverability by those with potential interest in the materials.

What’s your favorite thing about the Music Library?

I appreciate the welcoming atmosphere. Everyone I’ve met at the Music Library is so friendly and approachable. I also admire how passionate everyone is about their work. I can only hope that some of this energy rubs off on me; I aspire to be more like my colleagues.

What resource or service do you wish more people knew about?

Recognizing my bias, I wish more patrons knew about the AWM and the cultural riches it holds! I am working to increase its visibility (audibility?), but pandemic times have made the progress slower than I’d like.

Who are you or what do you like to do when you’re not working in the Library?

I am an ethnomusicologist by training and teach graduate coursework in the humanities part-time at Antioch University. I love working with students and helping them achieve their goals. I play the guitar and oud (Arab lute) in my free time. For my dissertation research, I studied the ways in which musical influences from the Arab world–especially those involving the oud and gambus (another kind of Arab lute)–became entangled in Malaysian identity politics. In this process, I was fortunate to learn from master musicians and instrument makers carrying on long held traditions in a quickly changing Malaysian society.

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

Like many others, I often turn to baking: cakes, breads, cinnamon rolls, pizza crust. However, we all know it has its downsides health-wise. I also get really stressed out when something goes wrong. So, it’s not always as comforting as it should be! I’m getting better, though, trying to be more mindful and intentional about the whole process.

What do you love most about your work?

The best part is the outreach component–working with culture bearers to enrich the collections in ways that better reflect the values of the communities from which the content derives.

Joseph Kinzer is seated outside. He is wearing a purple shirt and tan pants. He's carving a musical instrument out of wood.

This is a photo of me in June of 2016 learning how to carve a gambus out of a single piece of wood at the workshop of gambus maker, Pak Awang Besar, who sadly passed away shortly after this trip, in Bongawan, Sabah, East Malaysian Borneo.

Meet the Problem Solvers: Sandi-Jo Malmon, Librarian for Collection Development and Interim Director

What does a Library Director/Collection Development Librarian do?

My job is both Collection Development and the management of the Music library, as Interim Director. As Collection Development librarian, I look at our collection through a creative lens. I search for opportunities to not only collect music by composers whose works are widely recorded and performed, but also those who are lesser known. To shine the spotlight on new contemporary composers from around the world is a great privilege.

As Interim Director, I manage overall responsibilities for the library including budget, collections, and programs that support research and teaching activities. I encourage and support the staff to be the best contributors they can be. We have a great team and I am really proud of the work we are doing together.

What’s your favorite thing about the Music Library?

There are so many things I love about the Music Library but what first comes to mind are the collections. Music represents a deep form of communication and to see the gathering of our diverse history is mind-boggling in its rich complexity.

Sandi-Jo Malmon stands in front of a table holding an oblong manuscript score. She is wearing glasses and a red sweater.

Sandi-Jo receiving antiquarian purchase of Gioachino Rossini’s original manuscripts of one of his most enduring operas, “William Tell.” Strangely, the manuscript is missing the most famous part of this opera: the overture, familiar from its ubiquitous borrowings, for example the opening theme of the Lone Ranger and in the 1948 Looney Tunes classic, “Bugs Bunny Rides Again.” Merritt Mus 795.1.667.2. Reproduced by permission of the Harvard Crimson. Photographer: Steve S. Li.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the Music Library?

One day years ago in the first floor work room, many of the staff members gathered to dance the Macarena! It was hilarious because we were all so different, but we had a total blast learning the dance together. I still laugh when I think about that memory!

Who are you when you aren’t at the Music Library? 

When I am not working in the Library I work as a cellist. I particularly enjoy studying and performing chamber music, especially string quartets. I’ve been really lucky to play in a professional quartet called Aryaloka String Quartet and in the Kaleidoscope Trio, as well as the Kaleidoscope Chamber Ensemble, for many years, which had its debut in Lincoln Center in the early 90’s.

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

I am finding tremendous comfort in how connected my extended family is. I have four sisters and, believe it or not, I am the quietest of the bunch. We laugh a lot. My sisters, along with my many nieces and nephews, have made managing this difficult time easier. I am also fortunate to be in a long and loving marriage.

What do you love most about your work?

What I love most about my work is doing the research to discover the depth of diversity within our discipline. It will be a great challenge to make these works freely accessible. I also love the great synergy at the Music Library. We are greater than the sum of our parts!

Four musicians are smiling and holding their instruments: two violins, a viola and a cello.

The Aryaloka String Quartet, featuring Sandi-Jo Malmon on cello. Photograph by Susan Wilson.

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