Thanks to Sharon McKinley, Senior Cataloging Specialist, for conducting these interviews with Carolyn Turner and Rachel Weiss, two of this summer’s crop of interns.
What made you want to do a volunteer internship at the Library of Congress?
Carolyn: My older sister Jessica was a Junior Fellow when I was twelve years old and she would always tell me stories about her exciting internship at the Library of Congress! More specifically, she would always say how kind everyone in the Music Division is. Last year I was given the opportunity to volunteer and found the Library to be just as intriguing and welcoming as my sister had once told me it was. I enjoyed working at the library so much I came back for seconds this year!
Rachel: I first visited the Library of Congress in the spring of 2010 with my music research class from West Virginia University. We took a whirlwind tour of the library and were able to see some materials from the Music Division, and after talking to the librarians here I was inspired to consider music librarianship as a possible career choice. I couldn’t think of a better place to learn about the field than at the Library of Congress, so here I am!
What’s an item or collection that makes you want to say, “Hey, look at THIS!”
Carolyn: Right now I am accounting for pieces from a vintage recording collection and re-housing them. This unofficial “collection” of sorts includes record label promotional materials, catalogs, and periodicals from the late 19th to the late 20th century. On my second day working on this project, I came across a press release announcing a new record company called Acme, which would concentrate solely on releasing “race” and “hillbilly” records. I was never able to track down the company’s history when researching it, but I did learn of many other small record companies along the way— companies that grew from button factories, carpenter businesses, etc. What I found really opened my eyes to the early growth of the music industry and how it became what it is today.
Rachel: A few weeks ago I was able to see the Music Division’s instrument collection, and I was fascinated by the Stroh violin. Stroh instruments were developed around the turn of the twentieth century and feature a typical fingerboard with a metal horn attached. The horn amplifies the sound much more than a regular soundbox, and these instruments were used to make recordings prior to the invention of the microphone. Along with our Stroh violin is a fantastic photograph of a studio orchestra using these instruments in a recording session.
What do you listen to while you work?
Carolyn: I love to listen to the classy music of the Rat Pack while I work—especially since I’m handling vintage sale catalogs from that era!
Rachel: Lately I’ve been really into using Pandora Internet Radio, mostly because I get tired of listening to the stuff I have in my own collection over and over. I have varied listening tastes; some of my recent stations include Joe Cocker, Paul Simon, Nickel Creek, Coldplay, and Queen.
What are your future plans?
Carolyn: I am interested in completing a Pre-med program in college with the goal of one day becoming a surgeon. However, whatever career path I choose to follow, the Library of Congress has enhanced my knowledge of the professional world, for which I am extremely grateful.
Rachel: I’m really looking forward to beginning a Master of Library and Information Science degree at the University of Pittsburgh in August. I’ll finish that degree in the summer of 2012, and then it’s into the “real world” for me! I’d like to work in an academic or research library, preferably with music or fine arts materials.
What musical interests do you pursue outside the Library?
Carolyn: Besides following the careers of modern-day musicians that I admire, such as Josh Groban, I enjoy casually playing the piano. Although I took lessons regularly when I was younger I got out of the habit in high school. Regardless, I still love to learn my favorite songs on the piano. Currently, I am learning how to play “Levon” by Elton John.
Rachel: I’m a percussionist, and I enjoy exploring diverse types of music in performance. I play a lot of Western classical music, but I have also experimented with different types of world music including steel drums, Japanese taiko drumming, and West African music and dance. As much as I love to play, if you ever happen to see me performing with an African music ensemble I’m actually more likely to be dancing!
Bonus question: What’s something else you would like us to know about you?
Carolyn: Although it is not my neatest handwriting, I have the unique ability to write backwards without the help of a mirror. Admittedly, it’s not a very useful talent, but it is an entertaining one, none the less.
Rachel: As an avid knitter, I usually have some sort of knitting project with me wherever I am, especially when I’m traveling. I love it when people ask me what I’m working on!
Listen to Charles D’Almaine perform on the Stroh violin in a track from the National Jukebox.
Not sure if the ladies consulted with the Library’s Business Reference folks about finding the history of the early record companies? If not, you might want to talk to our business experts about using the Library’s collections to find company history.
3 cheers to Rachel and all the other knitters out there. We will never be bored with our knitting nearby! Thanks for the Knitting Song too!