Karen has been Music & Academic Services Librarian at RSAMD since 1988, gaining her doctorate from the University of Glasgow in 2009, on ‘Our Ancient National Airs: Scottish Song Collecting c.1760-1888.’ She remains research-active, continuing to explore the interface between antiquarian fact-finding and artistic creativity, the parallels between literary and musical fakery in the early Romantic era, the use of metaphor in the paratexts of early 19th century song collections, and 19th-century music-making on the Isle of Mull. Karen was elected Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Spring 2010, and has a particular interest in promoting information literacy as a key attainment for graduates by teaching information research skills to students at all levels. She finds her research experience invaluable in assisting library users, particularly those engaged upon their own research.
"After completing my MA by research into Mediaeval English plainsong uses at Exeter University, I commenced a PhD on 15th Century English polyphony. However, this change of subject gave me insufficient time to complete my doctoral research before embarking upon postgraduate librarianship training. Establishing my professional career left me little time to finish that research, and I reluctantly abandoned it in 1985.
"It was not until my discovery of the 19th-Century Dundonian James Simpson flute manuscripts at RSAMD Library in 2002 that I became involved in research again, doing small-scale research into their background. This resulted in the publication of my findings in the RMA Research Chronicle. The Simpson research was the stimulus which led me to recommence doctoral studies on a part-time basis in June 2004, and I graduated on 2nd December 2009.
"My research interests are in Scottish song-collecting, and in the cultural influences that can be traced to private individual collections in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
"I believe I demonstrated determination and commitment during the course of my studies, and have taken advantage of every opportunity to involve myself in the research community.
"Professionally, I find that having a PhD undoubtedly gives credibility in dealing with staff and researchers, who can be assured of my understanding and support in anything research-related."