|Vol. 17, No. 38||Aug. 6, 1998|
Michael Foster, who has been at UD for 18 years, performs an assortment of tasks. He organizes the center, decides what recordings and other educational materials to buy with some input from faculty and students and by reading reviews of new releases, does the purchasing, processes and then catalogs the center's collection according to composer and artist. He also receives and processes donations from private collections.
"The focus of the department's holdings is classical music, and we also have an excellent collection of Broadway shows and some jazz, pop and folk music. In addition, our recordings are representative of all the cultures and countries of the world--from the music of Tibet to English folk songs," he said.
Foster also fields reference questions and requests. When in doubt, he turns to the Music Library Association's computer service for help. "I had a question about a composer, and the Yale University music librarian answered it because they had received the composer's papers. There's a spirit of cooperation among music librarians, and thanks to technology, assistance is available quickly," he said.
The Music Resource Center has 11,000 recordings, which is good-sized and the only musical sound collection on campus for academic purposes. "Our only problem is we are beginning to run out of space," Foster said.
In addition, the center houses some books on music and musical scores, but Morris Library has the main collection of these, which is superb, Foster pointed out.
Performances in the Loudis Recital Hall of the Amy du Pont Music Building are recorded and videotaped and also are housed in the center, he said.
There are 55 stations in the center that students can reserve for playing CDs, LPs, cassettes or videodiscs. Larry Peterson and Russell Murray, both music, have developed interactive musical lessons for computer use by students, as well.
There are also five GUIDO stations, developed by Fred Hofstetter, Instructional Technology Center, which teach music theory and ear-training skills through an interactive computer program.
"The center is here mainly for academic purposes-to support courses and research at the University, and faculty can use our materials in the classroom or for other projects. However, anyone involved in music in the community, such as area music teachers, is welcome to view or listen to our collection. We don't encourage the use of the center for recreational listening, but the Newark Library has a very good collection," Foster said.
A graduate of the University of Richmond, with a master's degrees in library science from the University of North Carolina and music history from the University of Virginia, Foster said he knew since college that he wanted to become a music librarian.
"I have a missionary attitude toward helping others to appreciate music, especially classical music and jazz, which are my special interests. Being a music librarian is one way of doing this. My avocation, which I enjoy very much, is doing musical programs on WVUD, another way of reaching people and helping them to enjoy music," Foster said.
-Sue Swyers Moncure