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No. 77 April 2006


An Interview With Phil Vandermeer

John Druesedow

Phil Vandermmer at MLA in Memphis

Phil Vandermmer at MLA in Memphis

In the interest of letting the SEMLA membership know more about one of our own, Phil Vandermeer, as he steps into the position of MLA Vice President/President-elect, here is the text of an interview between Phil and John Druesedow, with John asking the questions and Phil providing answers that we’ll all want to take to heart and learn from. As you may know, Phil has been the Head of the Music Library and Adjunct Associate Professor of Music at UNC-Chapel Hill since September of 2001.

How did you get interested in music librarianship?

I was raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in a scientific family and I always thought I would specialize in a scientific discipline. But scientists are often terrific amateur musicians, and I had many opportunities in my formative years to learn music and participate in musical activities and organizations. So when I went to college, thinking I would major in geology or archaeology, and took music appreciation, I never looked back. I became an undergraduate music history major and studied horn and percussion on the side. I worked in the UT-Knoxville Music Library for several years under Pauline Bayne. As I got closer to graduation, I thought I wanted to go to grad school in musicology, but the late 70s was hardly a time of great promise for musicology jobs. Pauline was such a great mentor, and music librarianship seemed like a logical alternative: it brought together a number of my interests and skills. I investigated the Library School at UT and it seemed like a great fit. In fact, I really liked the courses quite a lot, especially because the faculty was very open to me focusing my papers and projects on music librarianship.

Not many music librarians have an ethno background—but perhaps there is an increasing number; have you found this helpful?

Indeed I have, especially in this 20-year period where music departments have been expanding their idea of what music is important to study. As the idea of a canon is continually redefined, music librarians need broader knowledge and experience with non-western, non-classical idioms.

What other institutions have you been involved with?

My first professional position was at the Free Library of Philadelphia, a large urban public library. I worked in the Music Department for 3 ½ years and it was there I learned how to do reference. We had a broad clientele: scholars, interested amateurs, professional musicians of all types. I met a lot of interesting people and learned a wide variety of skills.

My second professional position was at the University of Maryland in a Music Library that served a large comprehensive school of music. Here I was head of public services and was gradually mentored into more collection development activities by my boss Neil Ratliff, who was also instrumental in getting me involved in MLA.

You've had to deal with a major physical move of your collections and staff--what have you learned about this?

Actually twice: both at Maryland and at Chapel Hill. At Maryland, I was fortunate to be involved in the development of the new Performing Arts Library at what is now called the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts. One of the main things I learned here was how important it is to get various constituencies on board with your plans; the library administration, the departments you serve, local, county, and state governments, and especially outside donors. There is never enough money to do all the kinds of things you want to do, and anybody taking on a project like this (over a decade) needs to be very entrepreneurial. At Chapel Hill, we moved our library from Hill Hall to Wilson Library with the other special collections—SEMLA members might remember that we had our opening reception in the new Music Library a few years ago. We are still hoping for a new building, but with other University priorities, we have a while to go before we can count on that.

Could you offer a few comments about MLA and/or SEMLA, such as what it was like to be a board member of MLA fairly recently?

I was on the MLA Board from 1999-2001 and served as fiscal officer during that period. It was an extremely stressful period for MLA, as many will remember, and we were wondering whether we would even continue to exist. Paula Matthews and Jim Cassarro effectively led us through some very dark and turbulent waters. I learned a lot about how people can work together during crisis situations, and I’m very grateful for their leadership.

What are your thoughts about becoming the Vice President/President-elect of such a great organization as MLA?

I’m incredibly honored and humbled to be Vice President/President-elect and am looking forward to the opportunity to serve an organization that I have come to value and love. I hope I can do justice to an office where so many have served in such distinguished ways.

What new directions do you see MLA headed in?

My earlier time on the Board showed how valuable professional help can be in running an organization with the complexity of MLA. We are not a Ma and Pa organization. We have significant assets, and responsibilities for being good stewards of those assets. I am pleased that we have such an outstanding business office (A-R Editions), that we use professional investment counselors, auditors, and lawyers. This leaves opportunities for our members to work in an area interesting to us: music librarianship!

In the future, I see MLA become a more flexible and responsive organization, with a greater role in advocacy, and perhaps in publishing for the larger world of librarianship. Often, music librarians are in the avant garde of librarianship, and we need to find ways of sharing our expertise and experience with the larger world.

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From the Chair

Lynne C. Jaffe At Your Service: Library Contract Cataloging

As I write, spring is beginning to show itself in my area of the chapter. I am enjoying all that has started to bloom around my new home.

I think we had a record turnout at our interim chapter meeting in Memphis. You all deserve to take a bow for all the hard work you did for the MLA meeting. Special thanks to Local Arrangements queen, Anna Neal (University of Memphis), for a splendid job of organizing the rest of us; to Program Chair, Lois Kuyper-Rushing (Louisiana State University) for putting together a fantastic program; to 75th Anniversary Committee Chair, Roberta Chodacki Ford (Columbus State University) for coming up with many memorable ways to commemorate this meeting; and to Laurel Whisler (Southern Wesleyan University), fundraiser extraordinaire, without whom we would not have met our financial goal for this meeting.

Special congratulations to Phil Vandermeer (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), who is the new MLA Vice-President/President-Elect. David Hursh (East Carolina University) also deserves kudos for winning the Dena Epstein Award. SEMLA Travel Grant winner Cassidy Sugimoto was a Freeman Travel Grant recipient to attend this MLA meeting.

Laurel Whisler receives a hug from MLA past president Laura Dankner, while Lynne Jaffe and Diane Steinhaus lead SEMLA members in a bowing salute

Laurel Whisler receives a hug from MLA past president Laura Dankner, while Lynne Jaffe and Diane Steinhaus lead SEMLA members in a bowing salute.

Our new Web Editor is Nara Newcomer (East Carolina University). Thank you to outgoing Web Editor Lynn Jacobson (Jacksonville Public Library) for all her hard work.

At the interim meeting, we discussed starting a SEMLA oral history project, similar to that of the Texas Chapter. If you are interested in working on this project, please contact me (

The Nominating Committee, chaired by Robena Cornwell (University of Florida), is looking for people to run for the positions of Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect and Member-at-Large. Please contact her ( with your nominations.

Our fall meeting will be on the campus of Columbus State University in Columbus, GA, graciously hosted by Roberta Chodacki Ford. The meeting dates are Oct. 12-14, 2006. Please contact Catherine Gick ( if you would like to present a paper at the meeting.

Just remember, the lights are not too bright in Technical Services for you to have the blues.

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Fund Raising Report

Laurel Whisler, Southern Wesleyan University

Fund-raising for the 75th Anniversary Meeting of the MLA, hosted by SEMLA in Memphis, was a tremendous success. Ventures as large as this are a group effort, and I thank all of you who gave generously and encouraged your institutions to participate in supporting the conference. I would also like to thank a number of people within SEMLA who assisted with decisions, offered advice (solicited and unsolicited!), helped write letters, and stepped in as needed in so many other ways to make the fund-raising project so successful: Diane Steinhaus, Neil Hughes, Anna Neal, Lynne Jaffe, Roberta Chodacki Ford, Lois Kuyper-Rushing, and Kirstin Dougan, who so excellently handled all of the financial paperwork.

Finally, thank you for the gift you gave me during the Chapter meeting at MLA. It was quite a surprise, and I appreciate the Board's thoughtfulness.

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Freeman Award

Cassidy R. Sugimoto, UNC-Chapel Hill

I would just like to thank all of MLA for continued support of the Freeman Travel Award. Receiving the Freeman Award this year offered me the incredible opportunity of attending the annual meeting in Memphis. Attending the conference was invaluable: I learned a tremendous amount and was warmly welcomed into the MLA family. I developed friendships and connections that I believe will last through my entire professional career. I look forward to being a "50+" member who will be able to look back on this meeting and recount all my great memories (including a story I heard about a shower with twelve nozzles and a group of Board members--you all are wild!).

Anyway, thank you MLA, thanks especially to the Freeman Travel Award Committee, my mentor, my roommates, and all those who took the time to welcome a First-Time-Attendee into the fold.

New members and MLA first-time attendees

New members and MLA first-time attendees at the SEMLA meeting in Memphis. Left to right: Jaroslaw Szurek (Samford University), Chris Durman (University of Tennessee), Jessica Harvey (UNC-Chapel Hill), Cassidy Sugimoto (UNC-Chapel Hill), Adam Kubick (Clayton College & State University), Julia Thompson (UNC-Chapel Hill), Cynthia Miller (University of Alabama), Mary Rose Adkins (Winthrop University), Mark Fuente (University of Tennessee), Grover Baker (Middle Tennessee State University), Mike Bonnard (Brewton-Parker College).

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Member News

Harry Eskew presented a paper, "William Walker: Carolina Contributor to American Music," to the Society for American Music in Chicago on March 18. He was assisted by Chicago Sacred Harp singers who performed live musical examples.

New Faculty at the University of Tennessee:
Chris Durman, a December 2005 MSIS graduate of the School of Information Science at the University of Tennessee, was appointed as Music Librarian for Public Services in February 2006. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Tennessee and worked as a library support staff member for over a decade, during which time he “moonlighted” as a semi-professional folk and rock musician. After beginning the graduate program in Information Science, Chris was able to bring work and hobbies closer together by accepting the position of Daytime Supervisor of the George F. DeVine Music Library in 2000. In addition to his new professional responsibilities, Chris continues to play folk and rock music and, with his wife Candice, is restoring a vintage house in Jefferson City, Tennessee. He has research interests in utilization of library support staff, African-American musicians of Knoxville and East Tennessee, and music audio databases.

Nathalie Hristov is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico where she began her musical training as a cellist. Her principal teachers have included Joaquin Vidaechea, Benjamin Karp, and Dennis Parker. She has participated in numerous musical festivals including the prestigious Pablo Casals Festival in Puerto Rico and as a scholarship recipient at the Stephen Foster Music Festival in Kentucky. Ms. Hristov has performed in master classes with Mstislav Rostropovich, Norman Fischer, and Bernard Greenhouse. She holds a Bachelors degree in cello performance from Louisiana State University and has since performed with various professional orchestras and in numerous chamber recitals.

In May 2000, Ms. Hristov completed her Masters in Library and Information Science with a concentration in Music Librarianship from Louisiana State University. Since graduating, she has worked as Supervisor of Circulation and Supervisor of Cataloging and Processing for the Knox County Library System. In September 2003, she accepted a position as Assistant Professor and Catalog Librarian with the University of Tennessee Libraries. Two years later, Ms. Hristov was offered and accepted her current position as Music Librarian for Technical Services at the University of Tennessee George F. DeVine Music Library. Recently, Ms. Hristov presented a paper at the College Music Society’s Southern Chapter conference proposing changes to music performance curricula in higher education. She is also a regular contributor of CD reviews for the online journal, Opera Today.

The Music Library still reports to Pauline Bayne, Head of Music and Media Services, but she is now full time with library administration. Her responsibilities include special projects such as relocation of collections and functions, budget and grants monitoring, assessment and analysis activities.

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2006 SEMLA Meeting

Call for Papers

Preparations for SEMLA 2006 are under way. This year’s meeting will be hosted by Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, October 12-14. The downtown Marriott will be our conference hotel, with a $110.00 room rate. Catherine Gick, Program Committee Chair (Vanderbilt University); Guy Leach (Georgia State University); and Roberta Chodacki Ford, Local Arrangements Chair (Columbus State University) are currently planning the program for the SEMLA 2006 meeting and we would appreciate input from the full membership. Please contact any committee member if you are interested in presenting a paper, have presentation or program ideas, or have a topic that you would be interested in learning more about.

Catherine Gick
Vanderbilt University
(615) 322-6614

Roberta Chodacki Ford
Columbus State University
(706) 641-5047

Guy Leach
George State University
(404) 463-9929

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2006 Officer Election

Call For Nominations

The SEMLA Nominating Committee is soliciting nominations for two offices: Member-At-Large and Vice Chair/Chair Elect. Candidates must be members in good standing of SEMLA. Candidates for Vice Chair/Chair Elect must also be members in good standing of MLA. Detailed descriptions of both offices are available on the SEMLA Website. Members should feel free to nominate themselves and to contact current officers if more information beyond the descriptions is needed. Biographies of the candidates, ballots, and voting procedures will appear in the August 2006 issue of Breve Notes. Election results will be announced at the conclusion of the business meeting in October.

Please send your nominations (or questions) to any member of the Nominating Committee by June 15th:

Robena Cornwell, Chair
University of Florida

Stephen (Steve) Mantz
Davidson College

Nancy Zavac
University of Miami

SEMLA members at MLA meeting

SEMLA members at MLA meeting

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All photos in this issue were taken by Lenny and Darlene Bertrand.
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