Like everyone reading this post (we assume), the Monograph Acquisitions staff returned from the holiday break ready to start the new year with a renewed sense of purpose, energy, and enthusiasm.
That said, it can be difficult to jump right back into the production line tasks that comprise a significant portion of the work we do in our department. To get back up to speed and keep ourselves churning away at these core workflows, most of us employ a reliable performance-enhancing substance. No, it’s not coffee. (Though that too, certainly – always and frequently.) It’s not drugs. (As we understand it, officially frowned upon by LHR.) No, it’s music that keeps us focused and on task.
MonoACQ contains a number of “heads” who pair distinct music with each workflow to motivate themselves day in and out. Below are some of our go-to soundtracks. We’ve included links to DUL’s holdings wherever possible:
Much of my work involves working with order and fund data pulled from Aleph. (And soon, ALMA!) Internally we report on orders and expenditures by category, invoicing and processing metrics, and copy cataloging productivity.
As anyone knows, staring at an Excel sheet can be dizzying at best, and soul deadening in moments of stark, macro-driven desperation. To stay engaged on these tasks, I like to blast Mariachi music straight into my ear holes. Aside from being music that I find lovely and for which I have nostalgic associations, it adds dramatic flair to running a comparison between column “B” in one report and column “S” in another. It’s like bringing a pivot table to a knife fight:
Now, when I’m faced with a writing task (say, scrambling to get a blog post in by the promised deadline), nothing else will do but the propulsive groove of Booker T & the MGs. Funk and forward motion will get you there every time:
While I’m opening boxes I prefer to listen to music that will allow me to work at a certain speed to ensure maximum efficiency. In my experience, I am most efficient while listening to house music. House music is rooted in a variety of music including disco, funk, and European synth, thus I am constantly bopping as I work. House music utilizes strong bass lines, repetitive vocals, and elements of synth pop to ensure you have to fight the urge to dance while you work.
I have been working on reducing in size the large queue of Library of Congress shipments containing books from India which need copy-cataloging . While I am busy cataloging, I love to listen to an on-line streaming service from the Darbar Arts Culture Heritage Trust, which offers a large catalog of Classical Indian Music artists that have played at the yearly festival in London England that Darbar puts on every year. The music is fantastic! We have many of the artists that play at the Darbar festival in our music collection on cd or dvd, as well as streaming via Alexander Street Press:
While there is a strong chance that on any given workday I’ve listened to at least 5 hours of Dub music, there is one task that all but demands the instrumental groove sublimity of Dub and that is paying invoices. The tediousness and precision of invoice payment requires nothing less than music full of echo, bass, space, effects, repetition and rhythm. YouTube is a great resource for endless Dub mixes but fortunately DUL holds some great examples too, including a top-notch compilation of Studio One dubs from the 70s courtesy of Dub Specialist. And perhaps my all-time #1 selection is Dub Landing Vol. 2, by the Roots Radics and mixed by Scientist and Prince Jammy, originally released in 1982, presented here in a 2-disc reissue complete with original tracks.
DUL offers a shockingly healthy amount of Dub to stream, including this release by the aforementioned Prince Jammy:
I find that I reach for different music based on of course, my mood, time of day, the weather, the state of the world as a whole… But also, that a lot depends on the task at hand. For instance, when I’m copy cataloging shipments of books coming from anywhere from Montevideo to Cape Town to Milan, I find I can really get into a flow state conducive to matching bibliographic records while listening to great ‘80s/90s hip hop like Eric B. & Rakim or KRS-One. Whereas when I’m say, really in my head processing invoices for the diverse materials coming into the Rubenstein Library collections, I may reach for something more ambient like the noisiness of The Dream Syndicate or the dreaminess of Alice Coltrane. And luckily the Music Library carries most of these artists if you want to see how they line up with your work day.
(Sadly we cannot locate the Dream Syndicate’s blissful wall of feedback in DUL’s streaming databases, but below are cuts from Joanna’s other two picks. -BV)
I listen to a wide variety of musical genres, but when I need an extra boost of energy to crank out a cart full of copy cataloging, my go-to playlist is R.E.M., with particular favorites from Lifes Rich Pageant and Out of Time on repeat. A bulk of vexing e-book orders requires the somewhat disturbing and inappropriately funny tunes of The Smiths with Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now first up.
(No streaming of these gems that we could find in DUL holdings, but we can’t deny everyone this hymn to directionless discontent! -BV)
When I’m receiving boxes on boxes of Japanese-language materials, I sometimes find it helpful to remember that the books I handle today might become something else entirely tomorrow – it’s just a matter of putting them in the right hands at the right time.
Take the story “Hashire, Meros” (“Run, Melos”) by Osamu Dazai from 1940 – it’s based on a German ballad (Friedrich Schiller’s Die Bürgschaft), which was based on a Greek legend (that of Damon and Pythias). And then a Japanese band called Wednesday Campanella grabbed it and made an amazing song with a video set in Mongolia. Friendship, and trust, and also traveling long distances are all things that we can understand across time and geography. Wednesday Campanella keeps me company while I cut open yet another shipment of books that has come a long way to be here.
(We did not locate the track “Melos” in our streaming databases, but Wednesday Campanella is represented! Below, the cut in question. -BV)