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Crane librarian Edward Komara earns "Richard S. Hill Award"

03.20.09

The “Richard S. Hill Award” for the best article on music librarianship or article of a music-bibliographic nature was awarded to SUNY Potsdam Crane School of Music Librarian Edward Komara for his work on “Culture Wars, Canonicity, and ‘A Basic Music Library.’”

The award is provided by the Music Library Association and was given by MLA President Philip Vandermeer at the annual business meeting in Chicago.

Komara’s article examines the debate over the phrase "culture wars" and how the issue of canonicity affects the acquisitions component of “A Basic Music Library.”

“In citing musicological works that focus on canonicity and espousing a skeptical view of the multiplicity of canons and ‘musics,’ Komara displays exceptional scholarly facility, and his assertion that ‘basic’ does not have to mean ‘canonic’ is welcome wisdom in an increasingly digital age,” said Vandermeer. “The timeliness and focus of this article, coupled with clear, concise, and well-formulated arguments, make it a relevant and convincing read, especially for those who work in the area of collection management.”

Komara’s work focuses on “culture wars,” or how people should be educated, and the disagreement over the term.

“On one side is broad-mindedness or openness – the delight in the variety of cultures in American society that haven’t yet blended in the great American melting pot,” said Komara.

In contrast, he discusses its opposite, “deep-mindedness,” including what some people may call “narrow-mindedness.”

“Any attempt to discuss something of broadmindedness or even of the middle between broadmindedness and deep-mindedness would be branded by conservatives with the extreme terms ‘politically correct,’” said Komara.

This issue is something that music professionals deal with every day with such questions as what music should be taught in public schools and performed in public buildings.

“Music is but one example. I can't imagine what history teachers in public schools have to go through. What is to be taught in our schools, what the public institutions for art should display, what history should be portrayed in our government buildings, have all been subjects of culture wars,” said Komara.

Komara’s work also has a focus on the canonicity of musical bibliographies.

“Canoncity has been in recent years interpreted to mean ‘allowing,’ ‘permitting’ and at most extreme, ‘censoring,’” said Komara.

He is contributing to a Music Library Association guide of “basic” music for library collection. He began writing the article two years ago when he realized that the project would be mistaken as a canonic list by and for the deep-minded and not for the broadminded.

“We had to trace the whole notion of canonicity to its roots, and see what was its original purpose. Once we did that, we knew exactly what to avoid while compiling the guide,” said Komara.

During his 16-year career, Komara has combined his two interests of music and librarianship. He worked for eight years at the University of Mississippi, and the last eight at SUNY Potsdam. His main focus is on public service, which is the central task of the Crane Music Library.

“As manager, I recommend new books, scores and CD for purchase, work with the faculty on materials for their needs, guide the students in using some books for the first time and advise my staff and their assistants in their tasks,” said Komara.

The Richard S. Hill Award has been awarded annually since 1978. Richard S. Hill was a reference librarian at the Library of Congress’s music division during the 1940s and 1950s. He was known as a first-rate researcher; most of what we know today about our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” is due to his work. He was also a prolific writer, book reviewer and editor for the leading music journals, including “Notes: The Journal of the Music Library Association.”

Media contact:

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, Office of Public Affairs,
(315) 267-2918