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Home > Blog > August 2013 > Live from the Music Reference Desk
Music Department display highlighting new discs by genre
Music Department display highlighting new discs by genre

Are you ever mystified by the information-sleuthing wizardry of your local librarian?  Have you sought out our powers lately?  Just about everyone has daydreamed through a state mandated lesson plan in school at some point.  We've all seen various educational models in action while perhaps yearning for a less coercive environment to explore our curiosity.  However, even for those who know well that the library is the liberating commons for all learning communities (not just the compulsory ones), a similar intimacy with the work of librarians in gathering together those conversations is not as universal as the experience with teachers in schools is.

As music librarians at the Free Library, we'd like to open one small meta-window into a slice of our professional work with our newest Spotify Playlist, Live from the Reference Desk.  You may remember when we introduced our Spotify Channel in July featuring a playlist of new highlights from the most recent additions to the collection. Just about all the CDs from that bulk order– many of which Spotify doesn’t stream - are right here at the library waiting for you to check out or put on hold.  With this new list, curation and serendipitous inspiration are shared endeavors.

How does one join in?  Live from the Reference Desk is a by product of our interviews with you at the Music Department's information desk.  Live in-person reference work still functions the way it has for generations.  The curious simply come into Parkway Central, walk right up to the music reference desk and ask all sorts of music related questions.  Recently, we've heard such questions as:

“I'm working on learning some tunes from Sun Ra’s charts for a gig this weekend, but I'm not certain what note the flatted 12th would be in this chord labeled F# Dim. Nat. 5 Flat 12?”

“Can you recommend any books on teaching piano? I’d like to teach my kids Debussy’s second Arabesque. Do you have the score?

“I need to accompany a singer in two hours.  Please tell me you have the piano score for Sinatra’s “All the Way.

"The Philly Phanatic is here for the Summer Reading party, but he forgot his music!  What can you recommend that will get these children turned up?”

We use our expertise as information gumshoes to unearth the resources that will solve your informational mysteries.  Or in a related way, we bring your question more into focus so you can discover new unexplored avenues about your topic.  In this Music Department, Philadelphia’s students, working musicians, scholars, independent researchers, and of course passionate listeners of all stripes and genres of music, consult us for our detective work.

Since June we’ve been assembling this playlist to capture some of the buzz around the reference desk. As you, the library patron, ask us about certain works (whether they be from the Western Canon, the Great American Songbook, the underground counter-culture, the hip-hop generation, or even from far off Saturn), we make a good faith effort to add it to the list:  Think of it as a window into the collective musical conscience of Philadelphia.  Or perhaps a way of eaves-dropping into the ears of the entire city.  Imagine, the sheer enormity of the scope of local tastes!   We hope you enjoy it, and that you will come and join this conversation yourself.

[Our blogging software demands a single byline, but Perry G and Adam F co-wrote this one - Editors]

Tags: Spotify, music

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