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Keep calm and ask Donna Arnold

Donna ArnoldKeep Calm and Ask DonnaBy Margarita Venegas, News Promotions

Almost daily, someone will come up to Music Reference Librarian Donna Arnold and start a sentence with, “I’m sorry to bother you…”

But, really, it’s no bother, Arnold will insist. Answering questions and helping with music library research are the main parts of her job.

It’s a job that she not only cherishes, but that others in the UNT Music Library appreciate.

In fact, Associate Head Music Librarian Andrew Justice came up with an Internet meme that reads: “Keep Calm and Ask Donna" (right).

Arnold receives a variety of inquiries daily – one recently from a scholar in Austria is a typical example of how students, researchers and community members across the nation and abroad turn to the Music Library for help.

“I’m supposed to be able to answer any music questions – and we get questions from all over the world,” Arnold said, with a smile. “I find that having a musically eclectic background helps.”

Arnold came to UNT in 1972 to get a doctorate in musicology, which gave her extensive training in classical music research. Her personal interest in genres such as country, folk and jazz has also helped very much in this job, she said.

Another big help was that when she started working as a student assistant in the Music Library, former Head Music Librarian Morris Martin had been working there for three years already and she was able to learn from him.

“Whenever I was stumped, Morris always knew the answers. He is on a short list of the very best music librarians in the United States,” said Arnold.

Martin, also an alum who earned a BA in music and English in 1965 and an MA in musicology in 1974, retired in May. Mark McKnight is now the new Head Music Librarian.

1972 Music Library staffMartin will be greatly missed, said Arnold.

“He was responsible for the library’s collection development and had a remarkable gift for growing our special collections,” said Arnold. “One of his greatest accomplishments was working with potential donors to obtain items that a public university would never have been able to afford.”

Left, the Music Library staff in 1976, with Morris Martin at the end of the back row and Arnold at the beginning of the middle row.

Among the most important special collections were manuscripts, correspondence and photographs from seminal Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg, donated by his grandson Arnold Greissle-Schoenberg and the grandson’s wife Nancy Bogen, and large archives from famed jazz bandleaders Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson.

Martin was also a widely known and well-respected leader in the Music Library Association, and one of the founders of the Texas chapter. One thing that gratified him immensely was seeing students who had trained with him go on to very successful careers in music librarianship throughout the country, Arnold said.

“Morris has a special gift for reaching out to people,” Arnold said.

It was that gift that led him to direct the Music Library staff always to offer the best possible service to all patrons. 

“Put down what you’re working on if someone comes in who needs help,” Arnold recalled Martin telling the staff.

That dedication to service still survives in the Music Library and is one reason that Arnold continues to find joy and variety in her job.

“I love to help people,” she said.

(Above, Donna Arnold at the Music Library. Photo by Michael Clements/URCM)


Posted on: Sun 11 August 2013

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