“Wave Goodbye” – Conservatoire Library Stories Part 2

The Conservatoire Library is closing its doors for the last time on Friday 9th June 2017.

We were sent an extract from a piece written by Dane Preece for Birmingham Conservatoire’s Fanfare magazine in 1984, which describes the transition from working at a university department to Library Assistant at the then-Birmingham School of Music (BSM):

“One day, whilst still a stranger to my new BSM surroundings back in the Autumn Term of 1981, I was joined in the canteen by a sympathetic yet sprightly female student (a singer, as it turned out). Our conversation began in much the same way most conversations do when you meet someone for the first time, during which I happened to mention that I had just finished reading music at university. Inspired by this remark, she told me that she had just come out of a class in which Mr Daw had been discussing the merits (or otherwise) of various editions, and in which he had told them that Schirmer was a ‘good’ one. She then said, “his opinion would soon change of he saw my Schirmer edition of the Brahms songs”. When I asked why, she replied with considerable agitation, “Why? Because all the pages are falling out!”.

I was too stunned to laugh. I remember thinking at the time: I know I was warned before I came that there would be a change of emphasis away from ‘things academic’ at music colleges, but nobody ever warned me that the change would be so painful! I have been able to laugh at the incident many times since after I came to realise that the incident was no true reflection of the academic standards upheld by the BSM staff. But it did demonstrate to me fairly early on that there were indeed going to be changes of emphasis at the School of Music which I was going to have to adjust to.

When I joined the BSM library staff in 1982, after my post-graduate year was up, I expected to have to submit to yet more changes and adjustments; happily, however, these were few, the greatest problem being the invitations I’ve had from a handful of members of staff to address them by their Christian names. Believe me, it is by no means easy to treat one’s former tutors and examiners as, in effect, colleagues – however, if past experience is anything to go by, it may just require the passage of time for me to succeed in making that rather awkward readjustment!”

Conservatoire Library in the 1980s

Conservatoire Library in the 1980s

Our thanks to John Smith for sending us this extract.

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^Laura