Nora Ramsey loves music. She played viola in high school and describes herself as an enthusiastic music student who came in early and stayed late to perfect her craft. Around her sophomore year of high school, Ramsey realized she could study music in college, which led her to earn a bachelor’s degree in Music History and Literature from the State University of New York at Fredonia.
During her undergraduate degree, Nora had her sights set on strictly studying music history. However, while studying for her undergrad, Ramsey discovered the intricacies of music librarianship. In the first semester of her senior year, she took an independent study with the music librarian. Ramsey fell in love with aspects of the job such as acquisitions and cataloging, curation, digitization, and preservation.
Then during Ramsey’s second-semester senior year, she took a course that allowed her to work on archival research. The archivist working at the library, who Ramsey befriended, mentioned Syracuse had an exceptional library science graduate program and encouraged Ramsey to check it out. After looking into the university, the Archives and Special Collections concentration and the networking opportunities at Syracuse attracted Ramsey.
Ramsey applied and attended the iSchool. Within the first month, she was working as a Reference Assistant at the Syracuse University Libraries. Her primary role includes researching reference requests for patrons wanting to view primary source material.
“I wanted to find work in the special collections because I found primary source documents to be very interesting,” says Ramsey. “What I find cool about this job is that the department is called public services. So, we have a hand in a lot of other departments. As someone interested in archives, I got to see a little bit of everything. I got to see the public services department, I got to see processing, and I was able to see and meet the curators and archivists. It was a great opportunity to be able to see the inner workings of the archive and apply it to my own career goals.”
Another aspect of Ramsey’s job includes researching and writing blog posts for the Special Collections Research Center blog. “That’s one thing I very much enjoy because I can take my love for music, find something cool in the archive and write about it,” says Ramsey. “The first blog I published was about an illuminated manuscript. I also did a blog post on Miklós Rózsa, who is a Hollywood film composer. And I was recently asked to talk about my research in a podcast.”
In addition to her role as a reference assistant, Ramsey worked as a graduate researcher at the iSchool with Dr. Beth Patin. She started by assisting with grant writing before Dr. Patin asked Ramsey to work on a project called Rocket City Civil Rights (RCCR). The project seeks to tell the untold Civil Rights stories of Huntsville, Alabama. Ramsey currently sits on the Board of Directors as the Archival Preservation Coordinator.
“Dr. Patin and her family are directly involved with the Civil Rights and desegregation movement in Huntsville, Alabama. Her family has a lot of newspapers, documents, and pictures of that time,” says Ramsey. “The nonprofit is trying to collect and document these materials, interview people who are still alive from that time and create a digital exhibit to engage the community. I just helped write a grant for a scavenger hunt that sets up QR codes around the city where you can scan it and see what happened in the place you’re standing.”
Ramsey also works as a Projects and Information Specialist at Insight Communications when she’s not studying or spending time at the university’s libraries. At Insight Communications, Ramsey started as a consultant. Since earning her master’s, she is in charge of research for special projects, including creating literature reviews, assisting with the development of project plans, evaluating evidence, content writing, and revisions, and acting as an internal information literacy resource within the organization.
In the Spring of 2021, Ramsey earned her master’s in Library and Information Science. However, Ramsey isn’t quite finished with school. She was accepted to Newcastle University to earn a Master of Music, a research degree in Musicology. Ramsey hopes the second graduate education in England will set her apart as a candidate and lead her to a dream job as a music curator.
“A second master’s degree is on par with industry standards in the music librarianship field. I’m excited to specialize in a field I’ve always been passionate about,” says Ramsey. “I know I’m going to stay in academia. I love learning, and I can’t see myself leaving an academic library or academic institution, but I know that I definitely want to bridge that gap between librarianship and music. And I would love to bridge that in an archival setting. My dream job would be a curator. My degree applies to so many different fields, and I’m very happy to have gone to the iSchool and to have been able to learn about how many different options I have because that’s something that I didn’t even realize coming into the field.”