Uncertain and understaffed

Music Library's future still unknown as staff continues to dwindle

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UB’s Music Library is now down to only one part-time librarian, which leaves the future of the library unknown. 

Former music librarian John Bewley is no longer an active librarian, according to Elizabeth Adelman, interim vice provost for University Libraries. Bewley, who retired this January, was the only music archivist at the library, according to UB Libraries’ website. The Spectrum reported in December that music faculty and students were concerned for the future of the library, following cuts to the staff. Bewley was the last librarian working with a music degree at the library. 

“We do not have plans to change the funding structure for music library resources,” Adelman wrote in an email.

Adelman did not say if the current funding structure for the music library would be a part of the department’s “master planning process,” as reported in the past Spectrum article.

Deborah Chiarella, who acts as a librarian for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, is now the only acting music librarian, according to Adelman. All of Chiarella’s listed publications on the UB Libraries website are for medical and health journals. The Spectrum found, in archives research, that Chiarella was listed as a Music Library staff member by UB Libraries in June, but her bio at the time included no Music Library responsibilities. Chiarella has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from York University.

Chiarella did not respond after multiple attempts for comment. 

“There are tangible difficulties in using the library at the moment,” said James Currie, associate professor in the music department. “We have no music librarian … except for Thursday and sometimes Friday there isn’t a qualified librarian there.” 

Currie said he believes Chiarella is qualified to work at the Music Library and had proper training for the role. 

Currie has been worried about the Music Library’s situation, specifically with the dwindling staff. He said he thinks the current staff is good, but has limited capabilities after Bewley’s departure. Currie said the department has a large amount of graduates who are worried about the library too. 

Oscar Woodrich, a freshman music performance major, said he goes to the Music Library almost everyday. He said he uses the library for its audio tools and its collection of music materials.

“It is a crown jewel in terms of music theory resources and history resources,” Woodrich said. “But looking at the resources we have, the Music Library can help students grow and progress.”

Woodrich said he has heard rumors about the uncertain future of the library, but understands if the school isn’t saying until plans are official. Woodrich said he hopes future plans include having more librarians who focus in various areas of music. 

“Having people who specialize in music who curate these libraries is very important,” Woodrich said. “If you go up to someone in Lockwood [Library] and say ‘I need a score by this composer,’ if they’re not familiar with music terms, they might ask, ‘What’s a score?’ It’s not exactly very helpful, is it?”

Benjamin Blanchet contributed reporting. 

Thomas Zafonte is the senior features editor and can be reached at: thomas.zafonte@ubspectrum.com.