----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Hirsch" <[log in to unmask]>
> Steven, Siue,
> Some personal thoughts stirred up by reading of your dissatisfaction
> with the academic credentials required in a job posting:
> Though I recall the same feeling of frustration at finding my employment
> horizons limited in a similarly arbitrary-seeming fashion back when I
> (only) had a couple or three decades of experience as a working
> musician, sound recording collector and avid researcher of all things
> musical, I would not say that I regret for one single moment the three
> years spent getting my MLS at night while working full-time (among other
> pursuits). Believe me, it did make a difference, for me at least. It is
> not one of those spam Internet degrees and being able to communicate as
> a peer with other librarians (and, to a lesser degree, archivists) is an
> asset that I'm sure would come in handy for this Nashville job.
> Following the discussions on this list that edge into the library area,
> particularly those centered on cataloging, frequently reminds me of
> people who think they know how to medicate themselves based on
> experience and anecdote ans then disparage MDs because they are formally
> trained in what they do. Doctors (and catalogers) do some stupid things,
> but they do more good than harm and much of this is due to their formal
> training. I was an adolescent in the 60's and like everyone I knew, I
> was sure that I knew everything and had little respect for the certified
> authorities (we were mostly right as it turned out, but I am talking
> about something other than society in general here). When I look back
> over the intervening period, I realize that I did know a fair amount of
> stuff about music and records but I've only had a real grip on how to
> make it useful to others in the dozen or so years since I took my first
> LIS courses. Many of the courses have faded from memory already, but the
> rigor of study for a degree was much different than privately pursuing
> knowledge and that discipline has stood up well since those days.
> There seem to be people that are further along than others when it comes
> to natural ability in this area and I am sure you are in the further
> along category, but I don't blame potential employers from drawing this
> particular line when it might be difficult otherwise to limit the pool
> of applicants for a job in a meaningful manner. I believe that in the
> not too distant past one was hired to work at an institution (library,
> museum, archive) and learned most of the necessary skills on the job.
> This is not the case anymore for the sort of advertised position the we
> are discussing, though there still ways to enter at a lower level and
> work one's way up. I really don't see anything wrong with that.
> Hey, I spent a year and a half as the archivist of Henry Cowell's papers
> and he barely attended grade school. He taught at a few places like
> Columbia and Peabody and was a heavyweight in a number of circles, so
> what the Hell do I know?
> I send my warmest regards as I recede back into lurking,
> Peter Hirsch
First, I have been working with various database programs (as well as
experimenting with programming) to keep track of my personal collection
of 35,000 78rpm records. This gives me a lot of knowledge of what works
(and what doesn't)...but no credentials whatsoever, at least compared
to a graduate degree!
Secondly, there is a lot of knowledge that I have gained over
thirty-odd (some VERY odd!) years of record collecting and
"discographizing" that simply isn't taught anywhere that I
know of! For example, I know all the little details about
the various "transitional" matrix numbers used between the
formation of the American Record Corporation (mid-1929)
and the final settling on one sequence (the old Plaza numbering).
This is the kind of detailed knowledge that is necessary, or
at least recommended, for anyone who intends to catalog
78's or reissues based on them...but, to my knowledge, one
can only acquire this through years of collecting experience!
(However, I'd be glad to teach "Discography 101" if anybody
would pay me to do so...)
Oh, and "second-and-a-half-ly"...I actually authored one of
the standard reference works for 78 record collectors: "The
(Almost) Complete 78rpm Record Dating Guide." However, this
fact, and a dollar or so, will entitle me to a large Diet
Coke most places...
Steven C. Barr