This interview is over 1 year old and may no longer be up to date or reflect the interviewee/interviewees’ positions
by Dawn Thompson, Head Editor, INALJ Ohio
Andy Leach …Director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Library and Archive
Dawn: How did you find your job as the Director of Library of Archives at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum?
Andy: I first saw the job description for my position on the Job Placement Service section of the Music Library Association’s web site in 2008. As soon as I read it, I knew it was my “dream job,” but I also felt in a strange way that it was exactly what I’d been working toward for my entire career up until then without even realizing it. I’d worked in various music libraries and archives since 1993, and my main subject area of expertise is American popular music, so the position was an obvious fit for me. Still, I wasn’t sure what my chances were of actually landing it, but based on my education and work experience, I was pretty confident I’d at least make it to an interview. Turns out I did, and here I am!
Dawn: Tell us a little more about what a Director of Library and Archives does.
Andy: I couldn’t tell you with total certainty what all other library directors do, but I can at least tell you what I’ve been doing! Before we opened the doors of our new Library and Archives to the public last year, most of what I did involved figuring out what staff positions we needed, hiring people to fill those positions, working with them to make sure enough of our materials were processed and cataloged before we opened, and developing our various policies and procedures. Now that we’re open, some of that work has subsided a bit, but a lot of other work has replaced it, like managing the staff and the budget, collecting archival materials from donors, selecting and purchasing library materials, providing research assistance to our patrons, helping out with library instruction, hosting our public programs, participating in interviews with the media, and occasionally giving tours of our Library and Archives facility to potential donors and other important people.
Dawn: Favorite library you’ve been to?
Andy: There are so many great libraries, and I guess the ones that focus on music are the ones I’m most familiar with. But as far as my “favorite” goes, I’ll go with the maybe the most obvious one, which is the Library of Congress. The Main Reading Room in the Jefferson Building is extraordinary all by itself, but the vast collections among all the Library’s divisions are just incredibly rich and amazing. I know people who work in the Music Division, the American Folklife Center, and the enormous National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, and the array of valuable resources housed in all those places is remarkable. A really good friend of mine works in the Music Division, and he once showed me the original manuscript scores of Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, and other pieces by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Stravinsky, and more. Totally mind-blowing.
Dawn: Favorite musical recording?
Andy: It’s really hard to narrow it down to one favorite record, but I’ll go with Life’s Rich Pageant by R.E.M. They’re one of my all-time favorite bands, and this was the first record of theirs that I ever heard. It has fantastic songs, and I think it’s one of their best sounding records too. No matter how many times I hear it, I never get tired of it.
Dawn: Any websites, blogs or feeds we should be following?
Andy: You should follow the Rock Hall! Our Library and Archives staff often contributes posts to the Rock Hall’s blog, so that could be of interest to other librarians and archivists. And people should definitely join our Library and Archives Facebook Group and follow @RockHallLibrary on Twitter if they’re interested in what we’re doing. As far as what I follow for library news, some of the RSS feeds I look at are those from American Libraries, LISNews, Library Stuff, and Rock Book Show. And on Twitter, I tend to follow a lot of other libraries and archives to stay current on what they’re up to.
Dawn: Any job hunting advice?
Andy: When you’re applying for jobs, the main things that potential employers will look for on your resume are where you’ve worked and whether your experience fit their needs. So, if what’s listed on your resume doesn’t really match the job you hope to land someday, it can really help to get out there in the meantime and do volunteer or intern work at a library or archives that’s relevant to the type of work you ultimately want to do and the kind of place where you’d eventually like to work. When I was working on my library science degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I worked as a graduate assistant at both the Music Library and the Sousa Archives there on campus, and I also did a practicum at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville during one summer. This was all great work experience that I was able to learn from and add to my resume, and along with attendance at a couple of library conferences and getting to know more people in my profession, it eventually led to a great job at the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago after I finished my degree. I also recommend identifying some people in the profession who already have your “dream job” and simply reaching out to them to ask for their advice. About a year before I finished my library science degree, I sent out a group of e-mail messages like that to several people I admired who managed popular music research collections. Fifteen years later, those folks are now colleagues and friends of mine, and one of them ended up being my boss for eight years!
Andy Leach is the Director of Library and Archives at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, where he has overseen the establishment of the Rock Hall’s new Library and Archives. Andy manages the Library and Archives’ general operations, develops its library and archival collections, and provides research assistance to visitors. He holds degrees in music and library and science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has worked in music libraries and archives for nearly twenty years. Before joining the Rock Hall in 2009, he served as Librarian and Archivist at the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago, and he previously worked at the University of Illinois Music and Performing Arts Library and the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music. Andy has presented papers at academic and library conferences, and he has contributed articles and reviews to several publications. He is also an active performing and recording musician in Cleveland.
by Dawn Thompson, Head Editor, INALJ Ohio