From the Orchestra Library

One Program, A World of Librarians

Posted in MOLA,Organizational Effectiveness,Preparing Parts by kschnack on September 24, 2009

The thing I love most about MOLA — and I love MOLA for many reasons —  is the incredible collaboration between our member librarians all over the world.  You get to know the greatest people this way through the selfless, unquestioning help they are willing to give at the drop of a hat for the sake of getting the right music in the right place at the right time for someone else, even if they are a world away and have never met.  They do this even though they are so busy trying to keep ahead of their own deadlines.  It’s mind-blowing how generous with their time and expertise my colleagues are.

Of late, about 8 American orchestras have been making arrangements to play a pops concert with the same artist who is doing a US tour for the next month.  There have been all the usual logistical and operational questions to work out, including repertoire, instrumentation, fees, when the music will arrive, whether or not the parts are already used and bowed, or clean (and then have to be prepared), and whether or not they will already be in folders or have to be put together.  On top of all that, this type of artist tour means the orchestra librarians — to save their own and each other’s time and sanity — need to work together to organize the materials and maintain that organization for each other as the music is shipped from city to city, librarian to librarian.  The work the librarians do on the front end, plus the markings that are clarified in those early rehearsals and concerts, helps every orchestra down the line.

In this particular case, the organizing and shipping of two complete sets of parts came from one of our very helpful colleagues in another country and he set up the schedule of how the charts will move about the country based on the dates and geographical locations of which two orchestras would need the music first.  We happen to be one of those two first orchestras.

Since the parts needed to still be put into performance folders, we had a judgment call to make.  Do we do the work, stuff 31 different pieces in our folders, perform the concert, and then deconstruct all that work just to send it to the next orchestra and make them do the same?  Or do we stuff a set of folders we can give away, and send everything to the next orchestra all ready to put on the stands?

We do the second.  Of course.  This saves each successive library at least HALF of the amount of time it would have taken them to redo all that work.  And we are not being martyrs here.  It saves us half the time as well because we won’t have to take everything apart.  Which would be a totally unnecessary waste of time. With this many charts for full orchestra, let me just give you the straight scoop:  this all takes A Ton of Time.  How pointless it would be for each organization to have to totally start over.

The orchestra that is handling the other set of parts is also doing the same for the ones following them.  All of us are sharing details about assistant horn and trumpet, sax folders, an 8-inch stack of percussion parts that have to be sorted, etc.  It’s truly everyone pitching in to help the whole group.

I don’t want to get all “We Are The World” on you here, but I have many times been the lucky beneficiary of work already done by other librarians in this manner.  And it definitely makes you want to sing about it, especially for a folder with 31 pieces.

So this time I am happy we can do the work on the front end that will help our colleagues.  I like being one of a world of orchestra librarians.


2 Responses to 'One Program, A World of Librarians'

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  1. Jane said,

    Yeah!!! Go gang; love that cooperation. And really enjoying your blog, Karen. You have a gift for observation and writing, among many others.

  2. Alan Tyrrell said,

    Love the blog Karen, a friend sent me the link. All looks very familiar, well done you and all the other orchestras.
    Alan Tyrrell 🙂

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