Category: Archive of World Music (page 1 of 6)

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: Peter Laurence, Sound Recording Librarian

What does a Sound Recording Librarian do?

I oversee our library’s sound and visual media collections, which range from early disc recordings over a century old, to newly released digital AV content. My work includes selecting new recordings that support our music department and students, setting priorities for preserving and digitizing our older recordings, answering research questions, and teaching and outreach. I especially enjoy the outreach part, and right now I’m very focused on new ways of making our collections accessible for research.

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

Having 9th Wonder post photos of our Classic Crates hip hop collection to his Instagram account. We talk a lot about discoverability in libraries these days. That was it!

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

Our library has a large collection of early Arab and Arab-American 78rpm shellac disc records that was undiscoverable for many years. As of last year, we have catalogued around 550 of these in detail (in Arabic) in our HOLLIS catalog. It was a great collaborative project that succeeded due to the efforts of many others besides me, including three grad students (Farah Zahra, Farah El-Sharif and Faris Casewit) and and their language work over several years, a Middle East colleague in Widener Library (Nada Hussein) who did the initial training, and our own music cataloger (Anne Adams) who prepared the data for the catalog.

What’s your favorite library-related moment in a movie, novel or TV show?

I think I have to pick a song on this one. “Faster Pussycat To The Library!” by Sam Phillips: “If you don’t know what to do, I’ll look it up for you.”

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

Harvard offered a wonderful mindfulness and compassion meditation class this summer for library staff called Skills for Inner and Outer Belonging. It made a big difference for me, and I’ve continued this practice for at least 15 minutes in the mornings before work.

Is there a collection at Harvard Library that you’d like to see digitized and made freely available to the world?

It’s tempting to pick one archival collection, but I would have to choose all the rare and still digitally unavailable “commercial” recordings that we have in our recordings collections, especially our Archive of World Music.

Elisha Jewell is seated and holding a recording device. She is facing Peter Laurence, who is also seated. They are both holding vinyl records. There is an open archival box behind them.

Preservation Services intern Elisha Jewell interviews Sound Recording Librarian Peter Laurence about the Classic Crates collection, 2019. Photograph: Catherine Badot-Costello, Book Conservator for Special Collections

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