Fournier expands hours, brings ‘boundless energy’ to Underhill

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Many students have noticed that Underhill Music Library is now open 85 hours a week (from 9:00 a.m. until midnight every weekday), up from last year’s approximate 60 hours a week. What these students don’t know is that Donna Fournier, the new librarian at Underhill Music Library, is to thank for this improvement. “I just thought ‘I bet students and faculty would like to be open straight through, as long as possible,'” she explains. But this is only the first of many exciting changes soon to come to Underhill.

Though new to Swarthmore, Donna Fournier is no newcomer to music librarianship. In fact, she views this job as “coming back to [her] roots, and that’s a good feeling”. She began as a Student Assistant in the music library at Connecticut College. Soon after graduating a full-time position opened there, and she took it. “I was and am passionate about music and music performance,” she says, “The opportunity to work around all that material was irresistible.” Since those humble beginnings, Donna, who holds an MA in music history from West Chester University, has worked at libraries in Haverford and Yale.

Donna herself is a musician, still playing cello and viola da gamba part-time as a professional. Passionate about music, her favorite genre is Baroque chamber music. If you haven’t heard of her favorite composer, Marin Marais, just go into Underhill and ask her; she’s readily available and eager to help students with their questions.

Donna views her job as more than just someone in charge of books-she sees herself as a “matchmaker” and has a “great desire to match the right people with the right materials”. In order to make that matching easier, Donna is reconfiguring the collection and shifting the stacks into one call number sequences. Her goal is to “change things so people look for materials in as little places as possible”. She is also planning on assessing the uncatalogued gift recordings that have been backlogged for years, and meeting with “as many music and dance classes as possible” in order to facilitate their research.

She also upgraded the hours, responsibilities and wages of library student assistants, in order for the library to operate during its new ambitious hours. So far, Donna is enjoying her new job. “I’ve felt instantly comfortable here with the people and the library,” she says about Swarthmore. The people she works with obviously feel the same way. “Donna is doing an outstanding job,” says Music Department Chair Tom Whitman, “She is rethinking all aspects of how Underhill functions. She brings great cheer and good humor as well as boundless energy. Working with her is a sheer delight.” Watch for improvements in Underhill library as her projects get into full swing. Donna has many goals, but her motto on the role of a library is simple: “The best thing a library can be is open.”


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