As a user-centered librarian, my work focuses on adapting to the evolving needs of the patrons as well as advances in resources and technology. I seek to engage and empower others in my librarianship and teaching.


When I arrived at the Queens College Music Library in 2003, the emphasis was on protecting the materials from the patrons and the staff attitude was “us v. them” (the library v. the patrons). Part of the reference collection was housed behind the circulation desk and some circulating items lived in the reference collection as non-circulating materials. The entire recording collection was housed on our lower level and only accessible via a separate service point during the afternoons. Making all materials easily accessible and creating a warm, welcoming space quickly was first priority. By the end of my first semester, we had relocated the “hidden” reference materials to the reference shelves and consolidated the two service points into one on the main floor. This ensured that reference materials were more readily accessible and that CDs could be checked out anytime the Music Library was open. In addition, I worked with my staff to transform our mindset and interactions with patrons from “us v. them” to being friendly and useful. Within weeks, faculty, students, and community members began commenting on the noticeable change in atmosphere.



When I arrived at Queens College, the Music Library space had not been updated in over a decade and, beyond reshelving materials, no stacks maintenance was being done. I implemented a number of improvements and procedures.

  • Consolidated two service points into one.
  • Reorganized storage spaces to make our closed stacks more accessible for our staff.
  • Added shelving in our reference and stacks to accommodate our growing collection.
  • Collaborated with campus facilities to redesign our circulation desk (2014-15) and staff area (2018-19) so that we could more efficiently and effectively serve our patrons.


I have created a team-oriented and experiential learning environment for the Music Library staff, both full-time and student employees. For many of our student workers, their position in the Music Library is their first job. From the outset, we outline clear expectations and goals, including teaching them about professionalism and working within a team, and provide room for increased responsibilities for those who excel. My goal is to give every staff member everything they need to succeed, something mirrored in our reference and instruction services.

I am also active within the Queens College Libraries Department.

  • Serve on the Queens College Libraries Leadership Team, created to cope with COVID-19.
  • I drafted the latest mentorship guidelines for the Library (in fall 2019) and co-drafted updated tenure and promotion guidelines (2019-2020).
  • Served on the Queens College Libraries Strategic Planning Committee (2018-2019).
  • Three terms (three years each) on the Library Personnel & Budget Committee, which oversees faculty and staff recruitment, promotion, tenure, and annual observations; approves all faculty and staff leave; and regularly reviews the departmental. organizational structure. Terms: 2009-2012, 2012-2015, 2018-2021.
  • I have also served on search committees (including chairing two), the Curriculum Committee, the Resource Development Team, the Web Page Committee, and, more recently, the Strategic Planning Committee (2018-2019).


I have upgraded and introduced new technology whenever it would serve our students. The following projects were funded by on-campus grants, for which I wrote the proposals.

  • We now circulate laptops and iPads.
  • In 2009, we converted our listening area to a media center with 13 computer stations with CD/DVD players, 4 computer stations with music keyboards, 7 desks with outlets for laptops, and a printing station.
  • We created two small classrooms that are also available for group study. Both contain an electronic classroom set up and wireless headphones.
  • Until 2015, we circulated iPods containing music for Aaron Copland School of Music listening exams. The Aaron Copland School of Music acquired the iPods and fellow librarian helped “secure” the content to comply with copyright laws.


Jennifer Oates assisting music students in the Queens College Music Library.

I established instructional programming at the Queens College Music Library. I offer in-class instruction, library tours, and one-on-one instruction sessions with faculty and graduate students. In-class instruction has grown considerably and was, for a time, embedded in the music history sequence for music majors. (See my article, “Engaging with Research and Resources in Music History Courses,” in the Spring 2014 of The Journal of Music History Pedagogy for more. This article won the 2016 Music Library Association Richard S. Hill Award for best essay or article on library instruction/pedagogy.)


Music Library Book Sales over the years.

Under my leadership, the Music Library has established our first two endowment funds devoted to acquisitions, both of which I manage and determine how the funds will be used.

  • Ursula Springer Choral Music Endowment (based on a $20,000 gift)
  • Claude V. Palisca Endowment (created from a portion of a $386,000 gift).
  • Professor Emeritus Dr. Raymond Erickson recently publicized a bequest of $100,000 to the Music Library in his will. (He kindly notes that his bequest grew out of his interactions with me and my work in the Music Library.)

Other fundraising efforts include encouraging donations from faculty, alumni, and friends of the Aaron Copland School of Music and implemented annual book sales of donated materials to raise additional funds. The book sales have become popular with the Aaron Copland School of Music students and faculty as well as community members.

Library-Related Scholarship


“Engaging with Research and Resources in Music History Courses.” The Journal of Music History Pedagogy, issue in honor of Douglass Seaton, 4/2 (Spring 2014): 283-300. (Received the Music Library Association Richard S. Hill Award, 2016, for best essay or article on library instruction/pedagogy)

“Practical Ways to Bring Information Literacy into the Undergraduate Music Curriculum.” College Music Symposium, 44 (2004): 74-82.

“Music Librarianship Education: Problems and Solutions.” Music Reference Services Quarterly, 8/3 (2004): 1-24.


“Integrating Digital Humanities Resources into the (Re)Search Process,” Music Library Association meeting, Portland, Oregon, 31 January-4 February 2018

“Navigating the Uncharted Seas of British Electronic Resources,” National Music Library Association meeting, Dallas, Texas, 17 February 2012.

“Beyond the Music: American Music in General Reference Databases,” Music Library Association, Annual National Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA, 26 February-3 March 2007.

“Revisiting New Grove Online” with Alisa Rata, Annual Meeting of the Music Library Association, Vancouver, BC, 13-20 February 2005.

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