What does a Library Assistant for Print Music do?
I am a library assistant and work on special material: music scores at the Loeb Music Library. I am managed by ITS (this is Harvard Library’s centralized Information and Technical Services department), but in general, I work with this library directly for print music acquisitions and cataloging. Most of the cataloging work is copy cataloging, but I also work on the original cataloging for some Asian language materials. Besides these, I add music journals to the collection on a daily basis.
How long have you been in this position?
I have been in this position for 15 years.
Have you always done this job at the Music Library or did you start in a different position?
This is the only job I have worked at the Music Library.
What’s your favorite thing about the Music Library?
My favorite thing about the Music Library is the challenge and opportunity. The challenge helps you to understand your current limits and how far you can expand them. The opportunity allows you to create a path towards expanding said limits. The most memorable moment for me was when I was asked to take notes at one of my first staff meetings. I had only been on the job for a few months, I was not able to speak fluent English and did not understand most of workflows in the library. However, I made it with the help of a friendly colleague. I was very appreciative of this and it made me believe that I could do more for the library in the future.
What project are you most proud of that you’ve worked on in the Music Library?
The project I am most proud of that I have worked on in the Music Library is not directly connected with my job, but it was only possible because I worked at the Music Library. 2015 was the centennial anniversary of Chinese piano music, and I curated an exhibition on this topic. I used my experience in working with music materials and the foundation of my Chinese cultural background (especially Chinese piano music) to introduce a unique cultural and musical world to the Harvard community. It was very successful. The Harvard Gazette reported on the exhibition. In March 2016, pianists George Li and Alex Beyer played some works from the exhibition, transferring and transforming its contents from paper to sound.
Do you have any non-work projects completed or ongoing that you are proud of and would like to share?
I recently wrote a biography of the Chinese-American composer Lei Liang, a Rome Prize winner and 2021 Grawemeyer Award recipient. In the tumultuous year that was 2020, it was finally published as a significant part of the book Confluence of a Hundred Streams (written in Chinese), published by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Press.
Where do you find comfort and strength in a scary and unknown time?
As a music lover and a pianist, music has always been my comfort and peace amongst the chaos. To me, it brings happiness and hope.
What do you love most about your work?
Working with all kinds of music and constantly being able to learn more.
Lingwei Qiu in the Technical Services workroom following a 2019 class presentation on the music of Lei Liang.
Thank you to Joe Kinzer, Senior Curatorial Assistant in the Archive of World Music, for contributing this post.