Tag Archives: music

Day Forty Nine of the CMLE Summer Fun Library Tour!

Maroper Music
We are all clear that libraries are awesome places, and the people who work there or who use them must also be awesome people. (The logic is pretty faultless there!)

So it may not be a surprise to learn that there are all sorts of library songs! And, in true library fashion, the New York Public Library has graciously collected them for us: (Read their entire page to get more info and a bunch of photos!)

Ten Songs about Libraries and Librarians

1. “Karen” / The Go-Betweens

The Go-Betweens / David Nichols.
The Go-Betweens  / Nichols, David.

Formed in Brisbane, Australia in 1977, The Go-Betweens featured the twin talents of singer-songwriters Robert Forster and Grant McLennan. The group released 9 albums between 1981 and 2005. The Forster penned hymn to a librarian named Karen was the b-side to the group’s first single 1978’s Lee Remick. This song  is the only one I know that  praises a librarian’s readers advisory skills. Forster sings:

Helps me find Hemingway
Helps me find Genet
Helps me find Brecht
Helps me find Chandler
Helps me find James Joyce
She always makes the right choice.

You see what I did there? We just can’t help ourselves!

Go-Betweens (Musical group)

Go-Betweens (group)

2. “Young Adult Friction” / The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart 

A lot of songs that mention libraries seem to be about things happening in the library that are not strictly study related. I couldn’t find a single song about, say, bibliographic instruction or collection development. But that’s OK. In their song “Young Adult Friction,” New York City indie-poppers The Pains of Being Pure at Heart sing about an activity taking place in the library that should not be taking place in a library. Sex and libraries in songs is a common theme. Characters are either hanging around the library before going somewhere to do their courting, or are hoping for a date (or more!) from the sexy librarian. The lyrics to “Young Adult Friction” refer to “stacks” and “microfiche,” and there is a pun on Young Adult Fiction, so bonus points to The POBPAH. Knowledge of library terms also suggests that this group might have spent some time in the reading room.

Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Musical group)

3. “Library Rap” / MC Poindexter and the Study Crew  

Enough with all this bookish indiepop. It’s time for some bookish rap, albeit pretend rap. As I write this I am working from the reference desk, so can’t listen to this tune in order to discern it’s musical qualities, but I heartily endorse the sentiment in this sample of the lyrics.

The silence is golden
To books I am beholden
I know I’m bad,
‘Cuz of the knowledge that I’m holdin’!

And I give you one warnin’
There will be no repeats:
Get out of my face
While I’m readin’ my Keats. 

I ‘d not heard of MC Poindexter and the Study Crew, so I did some searching online. It would appear that this song  appears in the 1990s science fiction show Sliders, in an episode called Eggheads (Season 1, Episode 7). MC Poindexter is actually actor Mark Poyser. Fittingly enough, the episode in question is available to borrow on DVD from The New York Public Library. So you can see and hear for yourself!

Sliders. First and second seasons.

4. “Lost In The Library” / Saint Etienne

Taken from their 1999 Japan only album The Misadventures of Saint Etienne (could I be more obscure?) by the English dance pop group of the same name, Lost in the Library is an instrumental song. So I cannot be sure whether it is about losing oneself in a world of knowledge, of books, prints and photographs, archive folders, and microfiche, or a song about struggling to find the geography section. Or perhaps it’s about a quiet existential crisis in the reading room? Whatever, it’s a plangent, acoustic piece whose mood is most relaxing. Quiet calming. Like the library.

Saint Etienne (Musical group) Performer

5. “Thee Ecstatic Library” / Comet Gain

Esoteric musical choices are a necessity in this post as I’m steering clear of library clichés, as mentioned, so I have to take what I can find. It appears that most of the songs in this selction are by acts you probably haven’t heard of. Some are new to me too. Oh well. We’re here to experience new things. Comet Gain, a British indie band founded in 1992,  recorded this song for their 2011 LP “Howl Of The Lonely Crowd.” I love the idea of a psychedelic library, where everyone is ecstatically happy, high on the new things they discover. I’m not sure that’s what this song is about , but that’s not my problem. The song says “Music will save you again and again.” Which is a good thing. Where can you find music? In the library. So logically the library can save you again and again. And it does. If you think about it.

6. “At the Library” / Green Day

All life happens in the library. Green Day is not a band I am very familiar with despite their being much the most well-known act in this post. This song seems rather jolly. I say seems… the protagonist, too shy to talk to the girl he has a crush on, sees her leave the library with her boyfriend. But he’s not bitter. He hopes maybe they’ll meet again someday. Maybe that’ll be in the library?  He’s already in the right place to kill time. This song is from the group’s 1990 release 39/Smooth. You can read about, and listen to Green Day using materials held by The New York Public Library.

About Green Day (Musical group)

By Green Day (Musical group)

7. “French Navy” / Camera Obscura 

Spent a week in a dusty library
Waiting for some words to jump at me

I was sure Scots twee legends Belle and Sebastian would have written a song about libraries and librarians, but it seems I may have been wrong. Perhaps a keener fan will know? Fellow countryfolk popsters Camera Obscura do, and seem to have had more luck with love in the library than Green Day, as described in the song French Navy, taken from their 2009 LP My Maudlin Career. Sitting in the library. Looking for some inspiration. Suddenly! Love happens! We can’t guarantee love will happen in your library, but if you don’t go looking for it, you never know what you might find. More microfiche? Not sure how much work these love-struck folk are getting done, but hey, what better place to meet people?

Camera Obscura (Musical group)

8. “Swinging London” / The Magnetic Fields

I read your manifestos and your strange religious tracts.
You took me to your library and kissed me in the stacks.

Hmm. Perhaps I am being unrealistic expecting to find lots of songs about collection development, the Dewey Decimal System, and Library of Congress subject terms? Yes. I am.  Whether the narrator in this song was taken to a public library I’m not sure. I hope so. This is another sweet song that involves a library. That people are going to libraries is what matters. Use it or lose it people! This is one of The Magnetic Fields more electronic sounding songs.

Magnetic Fields (Musical group)  Performer

9. “Library Card” / Frank Zappa 

Library bar-code, PE label
Student must carry this card at all times,
And present upon demand for identification
This card are not while currently [enrolled pony]

You may be liable for any unauthorized use of this card prior to notifying the used card office
In writing, of possible unauthorized use due to loss or theft
I agree to comply with all library regulations
And to assume responsibility for all use made of this card

Wow. This ain’t no Carpenters. Possibly not a song about library cards. I sense something more sinister is afoot. “Students must carry this card at all times” suggests some kind of authoritarian dystopia, as if the library card has ceased to be your free pass to a world of knowledge, and has become a means of control by the state. Perhaps it’s a critique of education? Of Western teaching? I’m not sure. Hmm. Too surreal for me. You can make your own mind up by using your New York Public library card to request materials by and about Frank Zappa: there’s lots to choose from. By the way, if you are worried about privacy issues and your NYPL library card you can review The New York Public Library’s Privacy Policy.

By Zappa, Frank

About Zappa, Frank

10. “Lisa Librarian” / Velocity Girl

I’d heard of this song from my bandmate, the drumming librarian whose name is Lisa. This is the first time I’ve actually heard this tune. I was thrown because I thought Velocity Girl, out of Washington, D.C. (1989-1996) had a female singer. Which they did usually, one Sarah Shannon. But this is a chap. I clearly need to listen to more Velocity Girl. The recording is a sort of shoegazey meets Pavement affair. Like most shoegaze music, it’s quite hard to make out what the words are from the muffled singing, but…

I’d like to tell you something
But I have to think of something first

I want to visit you at work
It is all quiet
It is so quiet at work

These are the best lines in the song, and the most pertinent to libraries. Our hero needs some inspiration to help him think of something to tell the librarian. How about an icebreaker first? He could borrow from Robert Forster. “What do you have by Hemmingway? Can you recommend a book by Genet? Brecht? Chandler? James Joyce?”  I’m sure Lisa, like Karen, will make the right choice. “

‘Singing librarian’ rockin’ the library experience

Libraries are cool, and library people tend to do the most interesting things! Check out this story about a library person who connects with a community using music.

“INDEPENDENCE – Helping children develop a love for reading is as simple as singing a song, according to Joel Caithamer.

Caithamer is the children’s services coordinator for the William E. Durr Branch of the Kenton County Public Library. He is widely known as the “singing librarian” because he likes to incorporate music and song into the programs he operates.

Library patron Debbie Noble visits Caithamer every Tuesday for the Preschool Storytime at 10:30 a.m. at the Independence location. She brings her grandson, 21-month old grandson Evan, and her 4-year-old grandson Owen when he’s not in preschool.

“My boys like the music,” she said. “It seems to get them to interact. Joel is a valuable asset because he gives us babysitting grandparents a bit of his time to entertain our grandkids and give us a break.”

The storytime doesn’t just include a book with large vibrant pictures. The time includes singing and dancing as Joel strums on his guitar or banjo.

“It’s a fun time,” Caithamer said. “I really enjoy it. I like working with the kids.”

Caithamer, 49, of Walton has worked at the library for about 10 years. But admits, “I don’t feel like I’ve worked a day in my life.”

He said he always knew he wanted to get into children’s services and loved reading so the library was a “perfect fit.” He studied library science at Indiana University.

“I love my work,” he said. “Being a children’s librarian, you’re recommending books and encouraging new readers to discover new authors and titles; you’re going to schools to promote programs. It’s all about library awareness. You let the kids know, hey we’re here and it’s not just for homework, the library is a destination.”

Reading is very important and learning to love reading at an early age is essential for a well-rounded life experience, according to Caithamer.

Caithamer also has a deep love for music. He even plays electric guitar in a band. “It’s really fun to perform,” he said. But playing the guitar and banjo for and singing during storytime – well that’s his passion.

“I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” he said. “This is so much a part of my life. It’s a part of the day to day of who I am.”

Kenton County Library Director Dave Schroeder said the library is fortunate to have Caithamer.

“Joel is an energetic bundle of excitement and creativity,” he said. “He’s constantly thinking of new ideas to reach children and get them involved in reading and being creative. He’s got an eye for things that engage children, and things that will get them thinking about the world around them and how they experience life. It’s part of who he is.””

Women’s History Month poetry, short stories, and music on Spotify

Spotify is great for listening to music and making playlists, and they’ve really done a great job to help celebrate Women’s History Month!

Thanks to this article from Book Riot, I discovered that Spotify has compiled a few really neat playlists: Poetry (read by the authors), Women’s Lit (classic short stories), Women of Latin Music, a playlist of women composers, plus a ton more! Get more detail from the article here, or just find the “Women’s History Month” category on Spotify. As someone that probably wouldn’t pickup a book of poetry, or listen to women K-Pop stars, these playlists make it easy to try new genres and recognize the talented women that created them!

You do need to setup a Spotify account to access the playlists, but it’s free and portable (if you download the app).

Happy listening!






Spotify Rounds Up Audiobooks, Poetry and Short Stories for Women’s History Month

Libraries lending musical instruments

A photo by Roberta Sorge. unsplash.com/photos/PN_c3RKCVlA
Make some music with your library!

The days of libraries only checking out books have long passed. Libraries serve so many vital functions in their communities, and are open to learning from their patrons what types of services and programs would be most valuable. This has led to libraries checking out neck ties to job searchers (check out CMLE’s post on the subject) and now, to the Vancouver Public Library opening their Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library.

This article from Public Libraries Online describes some of the instruments available (they are mainly stringed instruments and hand drums) like acoustic guitars, ukuleles, and bongos. The library hopes to gain more instruments to share with the public during their instrument drive.

The way it works is that a person can borrow one instrument at a time for 21 days, and if no one else has made a request for the instrument, they are able to renew their instrument up to two times. However, that opportunity won’t come for awhile – the article shares how only three days after the Vancouver Public Library launched the Instrument Lending Library, every instrument was checked out, with a wait list of up to 70 patrons for some instruments! Hopefully the instrument drive is successful and the library will be able to acquire more instruments to share with the public.

Looking for more libraries that offer musical instruments? Take a look at the Toronto Public Library, Forbes Library in MA, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Ann Arbor District Library which loans out a variety of music-related tools.




AASL Recommended App: Humanities and Arts: MusiQuest

musiquestIn June 2016, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announced their 25 Best Apps for Teaching and Learning. The apps encourage qualities such as innovation and active participation, and are user-friendly.

MusiQuest is an app that teaches young students music theory through engaging activities. Using a variety of instruments, users are able to compose and share their own songs. Illustrations and animal characters help to teach students about harmony, melody, chords, and different musical styles. This article from Edify explains in more detail the features of MusiQuest, including the fact that it makes composing sounds and music for an entire orchestra accessible to a young child.

Cost: Free!
Level: Elementary
Platforms: iOS

Want to give it a try with an actual orchestra? Click here for a link to the New York Philharmonic Kidzone and select “MusiQuest” (in the bottom row) to play instruments and get a backstage tour!

Watch the video below to get a feel for how to use the MusiQuest app: