Introducing Houman Behzadi, Head Librarian

Houman Behzadi has just started his new role as Head Librarian of the Marvin Duchow Music Library.

The Schulich School of Music is thrilled to welcome Houman Behzadi as the new Head Librarian of the Marvin Duchow Music Library.

Houman received a Master of Library and Information Studies from McGill University in 2013, and is no stranger to the Music Library as he worked as a Student Assistant during his studies. He has since worked in Montreal, Quebec City, and Dartmouth, before accepting a position at the University of Toronto Libraries. An equally qualified performer, Houman also has a Master of Music in Violin Solo Performance and Literature as well as a Bachelor of Music with Honours in Violin Performance.

An advocate for the exchange of knowledge between information organizations and professional associations, he has been participating in numerous local, national and international music library associations, and will soon be starting a two-year term as President of the Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (CAML).

When Houman’s appointment was announced, Brenda Ravenscroft, Dean of the Schulich School of Music, commented: “I am delighted that the Marvin Duchow Music Library will be led by such an engaged, collaborative and progressive librarian and musician.”

Houman answered a few questions this week so that the Schulich community can find out a bit more about him:

What aspects of the Marvin Duchow Music Library attracted you to come back as Head Librarian?

First and foremost, it's an honour to serve the Schulich School of Music faculty and students. The school is a major hub for music research and performance, including a wide array of interdisciplinary studies. In response to the great work that's taking place at Schulich, the Marvin Duchow Music Library (MDML) has for decades provided top-notch services to music scholars from Schulich and beyond. I'm pleased to share that working with the MDML team has long been a dream of mine! They have distinguished themselves as the leaders of music library user services in Canada and I'm grateful to be part of their future journey.

How have music libraries adapted to the 21st Century? 

Technological advances and network environment capabilities have significantly changed the nature of library services, and music libraries are no exception. One thing that uniquely positions music libraries, however, is the multiplicity of mediums (i.e. monographs, music scores, and audiovisual materials) and the persisting coexistence of both the physical and digital formats for each medium. This evolving hybrid environment needs to be properly managed and preserved for future generations, and this mandate is at the top of all music librarians' agendas.

How has your work as a violinist informed your approach to working in Music Libraries?

I am at heart a musician, so I breathe, think, and act like one. The obvious benefits of the subject expertise aside, I continuously draw from my experience as a musician to inform my actions as a team leader. The iterative process of music performance forces one to reflect, modify, and strive for better results on an ongoing basis. As a string player I've learned the crucial importance of teamwork, knowing full well that I cannot achieve fine results without each and every member of the team being present and fully engaged.

Are there any new initiatives that you hope to implement in the Music Library during your time here?

Having just joined the MDML, I'm very much in observation mode, and I plan to spend a few months learning about the fine work currently taking place at the Library. Later this year, the MDML team will engage in a strategic planning exercise to determine our strengths and areas of future growth. For instance, I know that both Schulich and the McGill Library consider information literacy as one of the key functions of today’s academic libraries, and I foresee that we'll be exploring ways of expanding the MDML's instructional services.

What are you most looking forward to about moving back to Montreal?

I really admire this city’s creative energy. The art and music scenes are fantastic here and I look forward to taking full advantage of that. A somewhat hidden passion of mine is singing as a lyric tenor, and I'm thrilled to be able to continue my lessons with my principal teacher and mentor, Prof. Stefano Algieri. I'm also a big cycling fan - something I used to do in Montreal and didn't get a chance to do in Toronto. I can't wait to purchase my new bicycle!

What music are you currently listening to, or what books are you currently reading?

I've been listening (somewhat obsessively) to the Berlin Philharmonic’s 2019 performance of Scheherazade with Zubin Mehta conducting. I highly recommend it! I've also recently discovered a German popular singer, Mogli, who I'm quite intrigued by. Coincidentally, she's performing in Montreal this week and I have my ticket to see her live! It should be great fun!

I've been reading The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli, which describes many examples of cognitive biases and pitfalls of critical thinking that we encounter in our lives and societies.

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