Tag Archives: Space/Facilities

Staff Picks #1

Some of you may have noticed a “staff picks” section near the reference area in the Music Library. These are interesting, noteworthy, or just favorite CDs selected by the full-time and student staff. This irregular series of blog posts will highlight certain individual staff picks, and hopefully I’ll be able to corral some of the other Library staff to contribute their thoughts on why their pick is somehow special.

To kick things off, a few words about my most recent pick, Manhattan Research, Inc. by Raymond Scott.

Manhattan Research, Inc.

Raymond Scott was a pianist, composer, and inventor of electronic instruments, and is perhaps one of the most widely heard yet least known of American musicians of the last 50 years or so. He started out writing tunes for his jazz band (the “Raymond Scott Quintette”), and several of these — Powerhouse, The Penguin, and Dinner Music For A Pack Of Hungry Cannibals being perhaps the best-known — were later used in the Warner Bros.’ Loony Tunes cartoons. I think almost everyone is familiar with the 2nd theme of Powerhouse, even if, as is likely, you never realized who wrote it. (Carl Stalling sometimes gets credit for Scott’s music, because he’s the one who adapted and arranged Scott’s works — and other composers’, as well as writing some of his own themes — for Warner Bros.)

YouTube has a great performance of Powerhouse by the Quintette. Check it out. The famous 2nd theme starts about 1:35 in.

Scott eventually desired more control over the performance of his music than he felt he could get from his Quintette — as a composer, he didn’t seem to care much about his musicians’ need to express their own creativity. So he turned to inventing electronic instruments (some of which he worked on with Bob Moog) and composed music specifically for them. This is where the Manhattan Research, Inc. disc picks up. It has a great assortment of Scott’s electronic bleeps and bloops, many of which were composed for use in television ads in the ’50s and ’60s. Sponsors who used Scott’s music in their advertising included Sprite, Hostess Twinkies, Bufferin, Vicks, and GM. More recently, some of these pieces were recycled in a couple of ads for Tic Tacs:

Scott’s career was fascinating and a bit sad. The Manhattan Research, Inc. disc is bound with a booklet that provides a thorough overview of his life, and has some fabulous photos of his electronic instruments. If you’re looking for something a little off-the-beaten path, stop by the library and pick up both this disc and the other one we have, Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights, which features his earlier jazz band recordings.

If you want to read more, there’s an extensive page of review excerpts on the Raymond Scott website extolling the virtues of Manhattan Research, Inc. Happy listening!

Feedback On The Music Library

In October, we set up a poster asking for feedback on the Music Library as a physical space. We received many excellent comments. We’ve reproduced these below, along with some of our thoughts about them.

1. More colors; this library is gray

We agree! We’ll be looking for ways to brighten it up.

2a. A warmer temperature! Like 5 degrees more… and new headphones

2b. Why is it so COLD in here?

2c. Seriously it is way too COLD in here!!!

2d. It’s COLD.

Unfortunately, the temperature of the library is not something we have control over. However, we will take these comments to the building manager for the CFA.

3. Install flash on the computers so we can listen to myspaces

Your wish is our command! Well, okay, not all the time… but in this case it is! We have this now.

4a. Some of the headphones need attention. There’s static in the sound, and they often only play on one side.

4b. I think it’s scratchy knobs on the stereos… volumes in particular

4c. Yes, sound quality is often a problem

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We’ll check it out. It could either be a problem with the phones or the pots on the equipment could need cleaning.

5a. Big blue chairs like Armstrong but also connected to CD, DVD players, headphones, etc.

5b. More soft chairs

5c. With arms, near the listening stations

5d. Comfy chairs would rock (3)

5e. Couches (3)

5f. Chairs are uncomfortable.

One of the things we’d like to do is provide more flexibility and comfort in the listening areas, and comfy new chairs (and maybe even couches!) are part of that plan. Unfortunately, the College, like the rest of the country, is currently experiencing difficult times economically, but we’ll continue to work on this.

6. Larger Browsing section; bring back staff picks table; ability to browse older CDs.

We have brought back the staff picks section, now located near the reference area. We’re glad you like this. Everyone who works in the Music Library is an avid listener as well, so it’s great for us to have the chance to share some of our favorite music with all of you!

As far as the browsing selections: unfortunately, we’re somewhat limited by space, but, even more, it takes a fair amount of time to maintain the browsing section and cycle materials in and out. (As I’m sure you’ve noticed, things get out of order there pretty rapidly as it is…) Ideally, all of the CDs would be browsable, but that’s not simply not feasible given the way our space is set up. You can use MIDCAT to browse CDs online however – ask one of the Music Library staff to show you how to do this. – although we realize it’s not quite the same thing.

7. More carrels would be great. – Noted. We’ll bear this in mind as we plan our renovation.

8a. Vending machine (beverages) please!

8b. Seconded, snacks too

8c. Yes, food!

8d. Please! We need caffeine!

8e. How about coffee?

We agree! We’ll see what we can do. We’ve been trying to get a vending machine in the CFA for years, but the CFA is a shared space and other residents of the building have voiced some concerns. We’ll keep trying!

9. (Re: photo of colorful library): This is beautiful! Is there money for this kind of renovation? The colors are soothing, good for a library!

10a. (Re: more art on walls?): Portrait of Beethoven, no. Student art maybe. Less annoying carpet definitely

10b. Yes to art

OK, we’ll talk with the Museum and the Art Dept. to see what we can come up with

11. The carrels with music stands could use some CD players, etc. There’s no way to listen to music in there. – Noted, thanks

12. No one uses that middle room as it is. – Noted, thanks

13. ROBOTS – though our robot is not as cool as this one, we do have one…

14. (Re: small, round tables with 3-4 chairs for study groups?):

14a. Yes (2)

14b. No (2)

Opinion seems to be divided on the table issue. Though we’re not sure yet exactly what it will look like, we do plan on having some space available for group study.

15. Computer stations are ugly and impractical.

We agree 100%! We’ll be investigating ways to make the space more open and attractive, while still retaining privacy and quiet spaces to work.

16. (Re: long, rectangular tables with lamps?)

16a. Yes (2)

16b. No (1)

So, how about this?

17a. Take staircase out of the library and make access to the second floor classroom from the door on the 2nd floor! DUH!

17b. Seconded.

Okay, we’ll get right on this! Actually, the staff have discussed this, and we’d love to see this happen, for all sorts of reasons. However, as you might imagine, it’s not a trivial endeavor, since the staircase inside the library is connected to the staircase outside the library.

18. (Re: space to use laptops and spread out work?): Yes, and get Ethernet cords!

Yes, tables and workspace to use spreadout, use laptops, etc. would be great. We have added Ethernet cords for borrowing. They’re located next to the printer.

19a. Meditation/rest/nap room to lie down after long hours of studying – Noted, thanks

19b. 2nd! More ZEN. That’d rock. Beanbag chairs, even.

Maybe we can get a little sand garden or something installed. We’ll check it out…

20a. (Re: suggestion for new equipment/software, like Mac workstations)

20b. Macs (3)

Macs are definitely part of the plan.