POV: You’re a music library intern

Zebra on computer with booktrucks in the background

Graphic created by Damaris Billups

My name is Damaris Billups (she/her), and I am a senior music major at Agnes Scott College. This semester, I had the opportunity to intern in the Marian K. Heilbrun Music and Media Library with music and dance librarian Peter Shirts. I came to this internship because of my initial interest in music librarianship. I wanted to gain experience in the field and learn what exactly it is that academic music librarians do.

You may have seen me or my work around campus. I created monthly book displays in the Schwartz Center and on the fourth floor of the Woodruff Library, where Music and Media is located. I wrote informational blog posts about some of the services that the Music and Media library provides. I did some heavy lifting for the library’s Vinyl and CD giveaway in September 2022. I sat in on library instruction sessions for music courses (shout out to my MUS 200 buddies), and I even created some instructional materials myself.

Book Displays

Examples of music book displays created by Damaris Billups in the Schwartz Center from Fall 2022

While some of my work is visible, a lot of the important work librarians do goes unnoticed. My biggest project was a large, collaborative task that you may not see but you will feel. I worked on pulling music scores from the fourth-floor shelves to send them to the Library Service Center (LSC). The LSC houses library material that is used relatively infrequently; sending scores there allows patrons to continue using it while freeing up space for new material. I also worked on editing a detailed list of the Atlanta-area music that Emory has in its collection; this list was created because music is important to local culture, and as an Atlanta institution, Emory works to make these pieces of culture and history accessible. The list will help Emory Libraries acquire more listening material in the future.

While on campus, I met people with all types of roles in the library. I met with people in Stacks Management, Conservation, and the Rose Library, and I learned about their educational backgrounds and their important roles in the library ecosystem. I would like to give an extra special thank you to Rose Library curator of African American Collections Clint Fluker and African American Studies and U.S. history librarian Erica Bruchko for chatting with me during this experience.

This internship was a valuable experience that I would recommend to anyone thinking about music and/or librarianship. When interning in a library, you’ll learn how to be detail oriented and precise. You’ll also learn how to use the Library of Congress call number system, and you’ll get really good at spreadsheets. Peter Shirts and the Music and Media library team are kind, knowledgeable, and truly committed to the success of students.

After this internship, I have a much deeper understanding of the critical role that music librarians play in an academic environment. I am looking forward to graduation, and I hope to bring the knowledge and skills from this internship into my future endeavors.

Damaris Billups (she/her) is a senior music major at Agnes Scott College, graduating in December 2022. She is a violist, an active student leader on campus, and works as lead student assistant in the Music Department.

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