Staff profile: Tracey Snyder

What's it like to curate a collection, start to finish?

Who she is: Tracey Snyder, assistant music librarian

What she does: I select audio and video materials for the music library to buy, and then I create descriptions of those things to make them discoverable in the library catalog. I also train other catalogers, and I visit classes in the music department and do hands-on sessions, teaching undergrads how to do research.

Why it’s important: I’m shaping the direction that the collection is going with input from professors and students in the music department, and making it discoverable for everyone at Cornell and outside the university.

Education: I was at Ithaca College as an undergrad, doing a double major in music education and music performance. I didn’t particularly want to go into either career, but I spent a lot of time in the music library in college, so I started finding out places that offered degrees in music librarianship.
I studied ethnomusicology in Ireland for a year, and then went to Indiana University for a dual master’s program: a master’s in library science with a specialization in music librarianship, and also a master’s in musicology.

Background: While in grad school, I taught undergraduate music theory classes, and I did internships in music reference and music cataloging. I felt like cataloging was my calling. My first professional job was at the University of Chicago as a music cataloger; I did that for four years, but I missed teaching. So when I saw this job at Cornell open in 2010, I thought it would be a neat combination of the things I liked to do.

What she’s most proud of: Earlier this year, some colleagues and I organized and taught a workshop on RDA, which is a set of instructions for library catalogers that tells them exactly what to include in the description of the resources so that people can find them. It’s the first new cataloging standard we’ve had since 1978. It was long overdue and it’s quite complicated, so requires a lot of time and effort for catalogers everywhere to learn how to use it.

At this event, we hosted 100 music catalogers from all over the country. It was the largest-scale workshop I’ve ever given, and it was very specialized because it was only about music cataloging. It was a tremendous amount of work, but very successful and very fulfilling.

Best part of her job: There are two things I love most: One is that I love being responsible for curating a collection from start to finish, selecting what to buy and cataloging it and thinking about how I would tell students to find it. The other is that I love teaching and training my colleagues, aiding in their professional development.

In her spare time: I perform with the Cornell Gamelan Ensemble. My husband and young son and two dogs keep me busy; we play a lot of music around the house, lots of ‘60s rock and soul. My son likes it too. I also do a lot of reading, taking walks in the gorges, baking and cooking.

Dream job: If I weren’t a music librarian, I would make artisanal chocolates or be a Montessori teacher.

In this LibeScope series, interviews with library staff reveal their skills, talents, interests and backgrounds.