Photo from The Wesleyan Connection, by Stefan Weinberger ’10
Do you know Alec McLane? You know, friendly face, works on the 3rd floor of Olin, plays a bunch of instruments, etc. (The picture might help you recall?) If you do, you might know that he is Wesleyan’s Music Librarian and the Director of the World Music Archive. You might also know his involvement in various CFA and Music Department activities.
I have known Alec since I took Chinese Music Ensemble the first semester of my freshman year. I remember being in awe as he juggled at least three, and might I add, very different, instruments with ease. I grew curious about Alec and his story with the Chinese Music Ensemble, as I watched an American play Chinese instruments expertly in this Chinese/Asian dominated ensemble. (Of course, I later realized how naive it was to culturally stereotype anyone at Wesleyan. Oh the things I’ve learned in the past five semesters.)
As it turns out, Alec is one of the first people that helped establish the Chinese Music Ensemble at Wesleyan. Alec came to Wes in 1998. He was offered, as he calls it, the “perfect job.” He is native to New England and has been searching for opportunities to get closer to home throughout his career. He is also an avid lover of ethnomusicology, which Wesleyan has one of the world’s best programs in. So when a music librarian position opened at Wes, it was a perfect match.
I have the good fortune of working at Scores and Recordings, the music section of Olin Library. I can objectively say that it’s one of the coolest academic hubs on campus. S&R has a massive CD and vinyl collection, a pretty strange assortment of cassettes, shelves of musical scores, a bunch of turntables and other media players for student use, audio and video recorders on loan, and a whole room devoted to Wesleyan’s renowned World Music Archives. It is the home of Notations 21, a collection of creative visual scores that is possibly my favorite book in the whole library.
Scores and Recordings is kind of a metaphor for liberal arts in general— it’s a huge assortment of stuff that you can’t imagine you’d ever be able to string together in a way that makes any sense, but that doesn’t matter because it’s all awesome and interesting and the perfect vehicle for discovering new things. Especially when you choose items off the shelves at random (which is what we all do when navigating WesMaps, amirite?).
It’s always interesting to see what people check out at the circulation desk — everything from recordings of Tuvan throat singing to John Cage scores to Eminem CDs — but my sense from working at S&R is that not nearly enough people know about what’s available here. In an effort to mine some of the treasures that are tucked away in this section of the library, I summoned fellow Wesleyinger Gabe to join me in my adventures, AKA pulling random stuff off the shelves and writing about what we found. For this first installment of a continuing series of S&R adventures, we explored the vinyl collection and made some, er, unusual discoveries. Read about our findings after the jump.