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PDX OPERAbeat | A Company Blog is the blog for all things Portland Opera, featuring a variety of guest contributors who will provide insider's tidbits on all we do to celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera.
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Introducing Portland Opera's New Blogger!

Welcome to Portland Opera's new blog! I'm excited to be here. My name is Jess, and I'll be your blogger. Today, in order to dive right in, I'm going to tell you all about librarians.

WOO! LIBRARIANS! *cheer*

Let me explain. I'm Portland Opera's music librarian. Didn't know we had a librarian? I know. Most people don't. It's okay. Actually, if I do my job right, nobody should notice me at all. (Except the people I share an office with. I haven't perfected my invisibility trick yet.)

What does a music librarian do? I do a lot of the standard librarian things, only with music: I order scores, keep an inventory of Portland Opera's holdings, and help staff or artists when they need a piece of music for an event. (Sometimes this can be tricky: people will ask for a piece of music by the first sung line of the piece, which isn't actually the title; or the piece will be out of print or hard to find; or the piece will be in the wrong key and will require transposition, and so forth).

However, the main part of my job isn't anything you think of when you hear "music librarian." Ever thought about how every violinist in an orchestra moves their bow in the same direction as they play? A librarian helped make it happen. Ever hear an opera and think, "This is a different version than the one I know"? A librarian found that performance edition. Have you ever wondered who that mysterious person is at the symphony who brings out the score for Carlos Kalmar? It's the librarian!

In a sentence, the music librarian -- at the opera, and at the symphony, and the ballet, and many other places -- is responsible for every step the sheet music takes, from post office to podium.

As an opera librarian, the process for me, from start to finish, looks something like this: