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No. 74April 2005


An Interview with John Drusedow

Neil Hughes, University of Georgia

In June, SEMLA will be losing another of the Faithful & True, a friend familiar to all of us and to many in the larger worlds of music librarianship and American music: John E. Druesedow, Jr. John is retiring as head of Duke University’s Music Library, and we pause now to wish him well in his retirement even as we raise our voices in chorus to plead with him to return, at least one more time, to Memphis in ’06 for MLA’s 75th anniversary meeting (John has assured us that he’s going to try to be there).

John completed graduate studies in musicology (Ph.D.) and library science (A.M.L.S.) at Indiana University— Bloomington and went to work at his alma mater, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where, after a three-year stint as Instructor of Music, he became the first music librarian of the Amos Music Library, a beautiful new facility at the time (1969). He migrated to the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in 1974, where he remained for twelve-and-a-half years. While there he was instrumental in persuading the Oberlin College Board of Trustees to build a large extension to the Conservatory Library, but he left to come to Duke University before the building phase began. He was the second head of the Oberlin Conservatory Library, after Elizabeth Olmstead. At Duke, he followed J. Samuel Hammond as the second head of the Music Library, and he has been in this position for over eighteen years.

John Drusedow, Diane Steinhaus, Rashidah Hakeem
Chair Diane Steinhaus recognizes John Druesdow and Rashidah Hakeem, both retiring this year.

An impressive record in MLA’s Membership Activity Roster stands as further tribute to John’s service to profession, including:

John is well-known among professors and students of music history and musicology for his heavily-used book, Library Research Guide to Music: Illustrated Search Strategy and Sources (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Pierian Press, c1982), and his papers on and studies of Civil War-era popular song are legion and legendary.

Neil Hughes: John, you are one of a select group of people in MLA who can wear comfortably the mantle of scholarlibrarian. In fact, many of us think of you first, when asked to name a colleague who fits that description. Are you happy with having that be such a prominent part of your legacy, and is it something you would still encourage new music librarians to pursue as a career path?

John Druesedow: This is a very good question to start with, Neil, since it takes me back to my professional roots. I entered the professional world with the notion that I would end up as either a teacher or a librarian and was not really counting on the combination. As time went on at Miami, Oberlin, and Duke, it became clear that a combination was in my best interests and within my abilities. I have found that one can forge a kind of symbiotic relationship between the two fields but that either can suffer if a kind of delicate balance—in terms of time, attention, and study—is not maintained between them. Also, the matter of publishing comes into play. Most of my publications have been in the form of reviews; this has enriched my knowledge and understanding of the business of collection development. As to whether I would encourage new music librarians to consider a scholar-librarian career path, I would say that it basically depends on these things: (1) a deep and abiding love of music per se, its history and literature and its very sound; (2) a very advanced degree in music; and (3) finding an institution where teaching and scholarship are promoted and supported within the ranks of librarians. My feeling about the whole matter is that if you are primarily in the library field, as I consider myself to be, the first order of business is librarianship, and if the opportunity to teach and publish comes along, and you are so inclined, take the opportunity and see how it works out.

NH: How do you feel about the myriad administrative duties you’ve had to perform over the years? We all know that administering a music library is important, but have you taken much pleasure or professional satisfaction from it, or have you found yourself having to turn to your musical and scholarly efforts for most such pleasure and satisfaction?

JD: I take great pleasure in helping people find their way through a large and sometimes thoroughly confusing maze of music materials standing on shelves or lurking in the depths of some database or website. When such activities are successful and an answer is found, the pleasure is increased significantly. I also take pleasure in discovering little-known treasures— treasures at least in my opinion—that may exist in the collection or that I hear about, hurry out to acquire, and then spread the word. Two examples: the violin sonata, op. 13, by Albéric Magnard, a French composer at about the time of Franck, and the choral works of Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, a Spanish composer who migrated to Mexico in the 17th century.

NH: Can you identify a “greatest success” among your many notable accomplishments as a music librarian?

JD: Perhaps my greatest success was to persuade the administration and Board of Trustees at Oberlin to build the 1988 addition to the Conservatory Library. I did not get to see even the ground breaking of this project, but I take satisfaction in knowing that the addition was indeed constructed. Also, I am proud of the number of significant special collections that we have been able to bring in at Duke.

NH: How about a “memorable disappointment?”

JD: For a while after leaving Oberlin, I felt somewhat like Moses not seeing the promised land of the new addition mentioned above. But the actual construction and then later the finishing of the second floor of the addition fell into the very competent hands of Dan Zager and Deborah Campana, and I could not be happier that Oberlin now has such a fine facility. Here at Duke, we have had a plan for construction that has not materialized, but I have hope that something eventually will be done to expand the space devoted to the music collection.

NH: I want to share now with our colleagues an anecdote about something that happened to you and me at the Boston MLA meeting in 1998. We were out one day, returning to the meeting from lunch at a nearby eatery, when we stopped in a private art gallery just to see if they had anything interesting on view. Well, there we were, two grey-haired men in ties and trench coats … we must have been filthy rich, else what business had we in a private gallery in Boston, right? The gallery owner, an expensively-feathered raptor if there ever was one, swooped down and began aggressively courting us and what she apparently assumed were our deep pockets. I immediately became mealy-mouthed and evasive, edging uncomfortably toward the door, but you were the epitome of suave and gracious dissemblance, leading her on without actually leading her astray. I don’t remember how you finally managed to ease us back onto the street without either offending the owner or committing either of us to a purchase of tens of thousands of dollars, but I was quite impressed (to say nothing of highly amused), and I wonder: do you have any secrets you can share with those of us whose people-skills are less polished than your own that might transfer well to the reference desk or the job interview? Perhaps a bon mot concerning techniques for catching more flies with honey than with vinegar, or something to that effect?

JD: Thank you for your eloquent recollection, Neil. I think I was as eager to escape as you in that situation, and I’m glad we got away without committing ourselves to expensive purchases. I try to think empathetically of where people are “coming from,” an oft-used phrase, and to try to understand where they are going, particularly if I am in their path. Perhaps it is this attempt at empathy that some perceive and that helps me to get through some potentially difficult situations with them.

NH: You and I have talked a lot about trends in higher education and how those broader trends seem to be affecting scholarship and librarianship. What concerns do you have for the short term—say, the next decade?

JD: I think the formats for music both in sight and sound are very likely to “morph” into a more thoroughly digital world, with streaming audio and a highly enriched repertoire available generally through the Internet, and with digitized scores proliferating in a similar way and perhaps broadcast to performers’ desks when the occasion calls for it. Where the library will stand in this traffic is the question. Also, I have a concern that students entering college now no longer generally have listened to much of the music that may be taught. I hate to think that students may have missed out on hearing what I think of as wonderful music during their formative years. This is an old-fashioned side of me.

NH: And on the brighter side, what hopes do you have? What good, if any, do you see on the horizon?

JD: We have some wonderful students and new professional performers coming along. Some of the youngest performers we hear live or on recordings are as good as or better than the master performers of previous generations. Have you heard Joshua Bell recently, especially in a live performance? Have you been following the geographical adventures of Yo-Yo Ma? Have you encountered Hélène Grimaud? There is hope here.

NH: I have not heard either Bell or Grimaud in live performance, but I know their recordings, and I have had the great good fortune to accompany Yo-Yo Ma in the Elgar concerto back in my days as a professional violist—even sight-read one movement of the Brahms string quintet, op. 88, with him after the concert at the home of a fellow orchestra member, something I’ll never forget! And I agree with you: with people like those around, there’s hope, and then some. But who are your personal heroes—from your years as a student, a librarian, a teacher, a father, and any of your various other roles you might care to address? (Or perhaps an easier question might be, to whom have you looked up, and who has served as a role model for you, especially in your young years?)

JD: One of my heroes is Juan Antonio Orrego-Salas, a wellknown composer originally from Chile and my adviser at Indiana University. He and his family introduced me to Latin American music and some of its culture. I still keep in touch. There are others in the academic area, especially (and curiously) those from Texas, all of whom provided benevolent support at crucial times. Several persons in the Methodist and Episcopal ministries have touched me deeply and continue to have influence on my thoughts and hopes, maybe also my actions.

NH: You have many friends of long-standing in both the Midwest and Southeast chapters of MLA, and you spent your career almost equally divided between the two. Can you share with us one favorite, or perhaps just vivid memory from your time in each?

JD: There are many fond memories, but I’ll try to choose. At one of my first Midwest meetings, this one in Chicago, after I had moved to Oberlin, Marty Rubin, formerly of Audio Buff and now retired, took a group of us conference-goers out to a great Chinese restaurant (Hunan, I seem to recall), and I thought to myself: “What conviviality! What generosity!” And then in the Southeast we had a memorable meeting at Middle Tennessee State, where at the banquet we heard such wonderful dulcimer playing as to defy comparison. My most poignant memory comes from, I think, the SEMLA meeting in Memphis in the early 1990s: we heard an elderly, even ancient, banjo player who declared, before putting fingers to strings, that he loved us all. (I think you may have been the program chair for that meeting, Neil.)

NH: That left a vivid impression with me, also. As I recall, he was a former blues artist who had undergone a religious conversion and rejected the “music of sin,” as he called the blues. The interesting thing was that the underlying phrase structure, chord patterns, melodic inflection, and so on were all still blues—only the lyrics had changed, but that was of prime importance to him. Sarah Long, formerly of MTSU, was actually responsible for his presence on the program that day, but I’ll take whatever small credit for helping him to be there that I can; thank you, John!

The last word is yours, and I know from our years of delightful shared meals and meetings in SEMLA and MLA that it will be a good one:

JD: It has been for me a great pleasure to be a part of MLA and the two chapters wherein I have dwelt, and I hope to continue to participate (at least for a while). Librarianship combines both service and scholarship, and I have come to realize that the qualities of librarians are good for civilization both in terms of what we have saved and organized, what we share, and what we are trying to build for the future. If you then add music on top of this, you have a winning combination.

John Drusedow
John Drusedow
Neil Hughes
Neil Hughes

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From the Chair...

Diane Steinhaus
University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill

Greetings! I hope this issue of Breve Notes finds you emerging gleefully from your winter hibernation. I was so pleased at the large turn out of SEMLAnians at the national Vancouver meeting in February -- especially considering the long distance! I think we made quite an impression at the MLA business meeting, don’t you? Maybe at the MLA Memphis meeting next year we can take turns creating “Elvis sightings” around the hotel.

Margaret Kaus
Margaret Kaus presents her research in Vancouver.

At our interim meeting in Vancouver we welcomed two firsttime attendees, both students: Josh Chance from University of Southern Mississippi, and Will Hannah from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We also bade fond farewell to some dear colleagues. John “granpa” Druesedow is retiring after 18 years at Duke University; Rashidah Hakeem is looking forward to teaching piano and writing after 7 years at University of Mississippi; Joan McGormand is relocating to Toronto after 8 years at Southeastern Baptist Seminary; and Margaret Kaus has left University of Tennessee at Knoxville for a new job at Kansas State University. It is exciting to usher new members into the SEMLA family and always sad to see other long-time family members move on. We will miss them and wish them all the best!

Margaret’s defection to the Mountain/Plains chapter means that we need to hold a special election to elect a new Vice- Chair/Chair-Elect to start serving at the fall 2005 Memphis meeting. A ballot and candidate biographies are included in this issue – please study them and vote. And remember, now we can vote electronically as well as with paper!

One ballot in the newsletter is never enough, so the SEMLA board has decided to present to the membership an amendment to the chapter constitution raising annual membership dues from $5 for Regular members to $10, and from $2 for Student members to $5. Yes, it’s a big increase, but we’re pretty sure it’s never been done. The new levels would bring us in line with the practice of all the other MLA chapters.

Speaking of money, our fundraising efforts for the 75th Anniversary MLA meeting in Memphis in winter 2006 keep rolling along. If you haven’t yet approached that business you deal with down the road, please do! We are now ready to begin our final phase in which we ask our institutions for help. From what I understand, we’ve already received enthusiastic attention – see Laurel Whisler’s update in this issue.

Mark your calendars for our fall meeting in Memphis, Oct 27-29 at the newly renovated Radisson/Doubletree Hotel right across the street from the Peabody, where MLA will meet in the winter. Our program will likely be abbreviated so we can focus some of our attention on pre-MLA Local Arrangement matters. Anna Neal has been furiously planning local arrangements for both the fall SEMLA meeting and the national MLA meeting. And, in case you didn’t know, our own Lois Kuyper-Rushing is Program chair for MLA in Memphis. So you KNOW we’re going to have a good time both inside and outside the meeting rooms!

See y’all in Memphis!

Lois Kyper-Rushing, Sarah Dorsey, Diane Steinhaus
Lois Kuyper-Rushing, Sarah Dorsey, and Diane Steinhaus pay homage to the King in anticipation of next year’s meeting in Memphis.

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Member News

Kirstin Dougan of Duke University recently received a promotion to the rank of Senior Assistant Librarian.

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75th Anniversary Fund Raising Update

Laurel Whisler, Furman University

Fund raising for the 75th Anniversary festivities continues at a great pace!

  • We have received just over $3700 from individuals within MLA and $1,000 from the Midwest Chapter! Thanks also to Dana Jaunzemis of Music Library Service Company for another significant gift. Our total raised now stands at $9295 received out of $10,230 pledged. This means we have now passed the halfway mark for the lower end of our goal!
  • Several of you have contacted me about local corporate fund raising. Please keep up the good work and let me know of your progress.
  • Diane Steinhaus is sending letters to the dozen or so MLA corporate partners thanking them for their participation in our Association and encouraging them to consider a gift to add their "hurrah" to our celebration.
  • Finally, it is time to begin asking our institutions for support, for it may be possible for our directors to pledge a larger amount by using funds from two fiscal years. I will send you letters that you may take to your directors in support of your request.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact me ( Checks should be made out to SEMLA and may be sent directly to Kirstin Dougan, SEMLA Secretary/Treasurer (Duke University, 112 Mary Duke Biddle Music Building, Box 90661, Durham, NC 27708)

Laurel Whisler, Diane Steinhaus
Laurel Whisler and Diane Steinhaus with a Memphis mascot

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2005 Annual Meeting

Call for Ideas/Papers

This year’s SEMLA meeting in Memphis will serve, in part, as preparation for our hosting of the MLA meeting in February 2006. Therefore, we are trying to create a program around the subject matter of the various tours suggested by Anna Neal, local arrangements chair. The tours will be Elvis Presley’s Graceland, the Memphis Music Tour (including Sun Records, Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, Stax Records Museum of Soul Music), and Heritage Tours (civil rights history of the area, including the National Civil Rights Museum).

Papers, presentation ideas, and program suggestions are welcome and encouraged. We want the Memphis meeting to be an informative and enjoyable experience for all, and we need each of you to be a part of making it so. Please contact the program committee with your ideas. We look forward to hearing from you.

Robena Cornwell
Chair, 2005 SEMLA Program Committee
University of Florida
(352) 392-6678

Leslie Kamtman
North Carolina School of the Arts
(336) 770-1395

Anna Neal
University of Memphis
(901) 678-4412

Lois Kyper-Rushing, Sarah Dorsey, Diane Steinhaus
A multiple Elvis sighting at the MLA business meeting in Vancouver.

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2005 Officer Election
Call For Nominations

The SEMLA Nominating Committee is soliciting nominations for two offices: Member-At-Large and Secretary/Treasurer. Candidates must be members in good standing in SEMLA. Candidates for Secretary/Treasurer must also be members in good standing of MLA. Detailed descriptions of both offices are available on the SEMLA Web site:

Biographies of the candidates, ballots, and voting procedures will appear in the August 2005 issue of Breve Notes. Election winners will be announced at the conclusion of the business meeting in Memphis in October.

Please send your nominations to any member of the nominating committee:

Lenny Bertrand, Chair
Tulane University

Lois Kuyper-Rushing
Louisiana State University

David Guion
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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Georgia State Receives Endowment

Laura Botts, Georgia State University

Georgia State University Professor Emeritus Wayne W. Daniel has funded a Special Collections endowment to support the acquisition, preservation, and promotion of material related to Southern gospel, bluegrass, and country music. His donations of sound and video recordings, printed matter, photographs, and research material are part of the Special Collections Department's Popular Music Collection. Daniel is the author of Pickin' on Peachtree: A History of Country Music in Atlanta, Georgia (University of Illinois Press, 1990) as well as numerous articles on the styles of music supported by the endowment.

To contribute to the endowment in Daniel's honor, contact development director Melisa Baldwin at or (404) 651-1429. To contribute to the Popular Music Collection, contact Popular Music Archivist Laura Botts at or (404) 651-3902.

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Sarah Dorsey, Laurel Whisler, Diane Steinhaus, and Anna Neal
Revelry with plastic guitars at the Memphis 2006 promotion table (left to right: Sarah Dorsey, Laurel Whisler, Diane Steinhaus, and Anna Neal)
For more of Lenny Bertrand’s
photos from
MLA 2005
in Vancouver, visit:
Lenny Bertrand, Anna Neal
Lenny Bertrand with Anna Neal, Local Arrangements Chair for Memphis.

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