My Job at the Library: Sharing a Love for the Library’s Music Collections

Cait Miller is a reference specialist in the Music Division. This post was first published in the May–June issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. “My Job” is a regular feature in the magazine, issues of which are available in their entirety online.

Cait Miller holds lyricist Howard Ashman’s personal Sebastian the Crab, featured in animated form in “The Little Mermaid.” Photo by Shawn Miller.

How would you describe your work at the Library?
I am most often found in the Performing Arts Reading Room welcoming researchers, orienting people to the Music Division’s collections, answering questions about accessing the collections and presenting orientations to individuals and groups. I relish any opportunity, whether in the reading room, via Ask A Librarian or writing for the Library’s “In the Muse” blog, to share our collections and programs with the public. I’ve lost track of the number of times someone has commented to me at the reference desk or after an orientation: “You have the coolest job!” I couldn’t agree more!

How did you prepare for your position?
As a music major in college, I knew that a career in performance was not for me but desperately wanted to find something where I could maintain a strong tie to music. One career kept popping up in conversations: music librarianship. During a summer home from college, I took an internship in the American Folklife Center and was inspired by the Library’s collections and service to the public. I started a dual-degree program at Catholic University one week following my college graduation and received an M.S. in library science as well as an M.A. in musicology. (As a part of my library science program, I actually took an internship in the Music Division, thinking it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!) After graduating, I applied for a music reference specialist position in the Music Division and was incredibly lucky to be selected. About a year into the job, I decided to also pursue a Ph.D. in musicology. I am now officially working on my dissertation: “At the Intersection of Gender, Nationalism and the Dangerous Woman: Lorelei in Nineteenth-Century Song.”

What projects have you especially enjoyed?
While I am passionate about all genres of music, I’ve been particularly delighted to have the opportunity to work with musical theater. One of my favorite projects grew out of a passing comment by my colleague Mark Horowitz alerting me to correspondence in the Oscar Hammerstein Collection. The correspondence was between a nun named Sister Gregory and Oscar Hammerstein while he was working on “The Sound of Music.” As I read the letters, I realized that the correspondence brought new insight into the creative process of Hammerstein, and I requested and was granted permission from Sister Gregory’s Order (the Sinsinawa Order) to digitize the letters. You can read my blog post on Sister Gregory and see the letters online.

What have been some of your most memorable experiences at the Library?
I would have to say my most memorable experience in the Music Division was when Lin-Manuel Miranda visited the Performing Arts Reading Room in October 2017. He was here to conduct his own research in our collections, but my colleague Janet McKinney and I curated a small display of items that we thought he would appreciate (we have been inspired by him since our first listen to the “Hamilton” cast album). He tweeted about his favorite items in the display: an early draft of a lyric for “Maria” from “West Side Story” and lyricist Howard Ashman’s personal Sebastian the Crab stuffed animal (a favorite of mine as well!).

Harriet Tubman: Teaming Up to Acquire a Rare Photograph

This post draws on the article “Pulling Together for Tubman,” published in the January–February issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The issue is available in its entirety online. Newly discovered portraits of long-famous Americans rarely surface—especially 150 years after they were made. Last spring, however, a U.S. auction house put up for bid […]

New Online: Rare Photo of Harriet Tubman Preserved for Future Generations

This post draws on the article “Building Black History: A New View of Tubman,” published in the January–February issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The issue is available in its entirety online. A remarkable photo album brought two major institutions together to restore and preserve an important piece of American history. Today, the […]

Women’s History Month: “Hidden Figures of Women’s History”

To celebrate the start of Women’s History Month, we’re pleased to share an excerpt from “Hidden Figures of Women’s History,” the March–April issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine, available in its entirety online. The except features a vignette about Lois Weber, an early 20th-century filmmaker, by Mike Mashon, head of the Library’s Moving […]

African-American History Month: Curating Black History

In this post, historians from the Library and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture highlight how collection items shed light on the black experience. The post is reprinted from the January–February issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The entire issue is available online. Adrienne Cannon is the Afro-American history […]

African-American History Month: Making Freedom the Law of the Land

To celebrate African-American History Month and the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday—Feb. 12, 1809—we are sharing an article from “Building Black History,” the January–February issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine, available in its entirety online. The Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln understood, was a wartime measure that wouldn’t ensure the freedom of […]

African-American History Month: Happy Birthday, Frederick Douglass!

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Douglass, and this month is African-American History Month. To celebrate, we are highlighting favorite items from the Library’s collections. This post is reprinted from “Building Black History,” the January–February issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine, available in its entirety online.   This […]

My Job at the Library: Audio Engineer Helps to Preserve the Nation’s Sounds

Bryan Hoffa discusses his work at the Library’s Audio-Visual Conservation Center. This post was first published in LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. “My Job” is a regular feature in the magazine, issues of which are available in their entirety online. How would you describe your work at the Library? My job at the Library’s Packard […]

Building Black History: Find Your Roots

This is a guest post by Bryonna Head, a public affairs assistant in the Communications Office. It is reprinted from the January–February issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The issue is available in its entirety online. The Library’s local history and genealogy resources make it easier for African-Americans to explore their family histories. […]

Veterans on the Homefront: War Creates an Artist

This is a guest post by Megan Harris, a librarian with the Veterans History Project. It is one of four profiles that make up “Veterans on the Homefront,” published in the November–December 2017 issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. This profile recounts the way in which Tracy Sugarman was affected by his time […]