Principal Librarian: SABC Media Library Cape Town
The interview this week is with Marlene Ungerer, the Principal Librarian of the Media Library, Cape Town. She has been with SABC Cape Town for 24 years on the 1st August, 2011.
Marlene, please tell us a little bit about your life and career (Where you grew up, where and what you studied and your work experience before you joined SABC Cape Town)
I grew up in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. Both my parents played guitar, piano and sang. My parents made a recording with Teal Trutone in 1955 when I was 6 months old, on a 78”.
My brother won first prize for the battle of the bands when he was 15 years old. He is currently a member of the band “Late Final”. My sister and I sang in a band in our teens and we had piano lessons with Charles Segal whilst we were at school. Because of my parents influence in music, we obviously are all able to play an instrument or two and we are able to sing. Therefore music was more than a hobby it was a normal activity in our family gatherings and we all have a passion for music. None of us are able to live without music…it’s in our veins. My knowledge of music goes back to my Grandmother’s era up to the current genre’s we hear today.
I cannot imagine my life without music. It was coincidental that I started working at the SABC Media Library in August, 1987.
My previous work experience was purely administrative. For example: wages, salaries, creditors and debtors, switchboard, secretary and Personal assistant.
How big is the province you serve?
The Province in Cape Town has a total of 170 employees. The Media library provides services to following Radio Stations: - Good Hope FM, RSG, SAFM and Umhlobo Wenene, including Group Sales and Marketing.
Do you have specific challenges in Cape Town?
Yes, we most certainly do! Firstly we have only two employees, the Principle Librarian and the Librarian. The biggest challenges are when one of the two is off ill or on leave and the other has to juggle the running of the library, seeing the clients from the Record Companies (who samples us with CD’s), assisting the compilers, attending meetings and finally finding the time to catalogue the new releases. Cape Town Media Library is one of the few Provinces that has a Principle Librarian that is hands on. At present I am coaching two interns since February and we have been requested to do monthly reports and logbooks for each intern.
Please tell us about a normal day in your office. What tasks do you give priority to?
The task which is given first priority is ensuring the new releases are catalogued as soon as possible, to enable compilers and borrowers to have prompt access to compile their playlists and programmes. Managing one’s time to give the Record Companies an opportunity to visit and explain the new CD releases, which are given as free samples. At present I need to give my full attention to the interns while coaching them until November of this year.
Tell us more about the collection in the SABC Cape Town Archives and the scope of material that need to be preserved.
Anything we need to archive we send to the SABC in Johannesburg but we do take a keen interest in preserving CD’s that were released from 1980 to 2000, as these CD’s are not replaceable. Should a borrower need access to a CD which we only have one copy of, we make alternate arrangements to either copy the CD or download the track requested.
Tell us why you enjoy doing the work that you do.
I have a passion for music and I cannot imagine my life without music. I enjoy every aspect of my job; it is extremely challenging and rewarding to be able to assist people with music requests and knowing that I have the knowledge and experience to find a particular type of genre to suit their programme, drama or an advert. I really couldn’t imagine my life without music.
Why do you prefer working in Cape Town, rather than here in Johannesburg?
I was born and grew up in Cape Town and my parents, children and extended family are all based in Cape Town. Cape Town is the only place I would work and it suits my needs at present. Life throws us so many curve balls, who know; maybe at another time in my life it may warrant a transfer!
Questions and blog post by Karen du Toit, Afrikaans Archivist in the SABC Radio Archives.