Student Shifts Career Trajectory with Knowledge Gained from Music & Dance Library


Emily Lay sits at a table in the Music & Dance Library with a spread of materials surrounding her. She is looking at the camera with a slight smile. She has red hair and is wearing glasses, a white shirt and a dark green cardigan.

Before attending The Ohio State University, Emily Lay knew she had a passion for music but felt something was missing in her academic journey. 

“I did not know what musicology was before coming to college. I didn’t even know that was a thing,” Lay said. “When I chose horn performance, it was because I really enjoy music, but I have always been a research-oriented person. I thought that was lacking in horn performance. Then, I discovered musicology, developed an interest in it and began using the Music & Dance Library more.”

Lay, a third-year undergraduate in French horn performance, found her missing piece – the research aspect of music.

Lay first discovered the Music & Dance Library through a music history course where the professor would include unique materials from the library in their instruction.

“I thought those were so interesting, and I began looking through the library more and getting more comfortable with it,” she said.

Her interest grew and Lay found herself spending much more time in the Music & Dance Library.

“During my second year, I decided to apply to the Undergraduate Research Library Fellowship (URLF) program,” Lay said.

The URLF program changed Lay’s career trajectory.

A close-up photo of a music score in a bound book.

“The URLF program has been incredibly helpful in identifying what I want to do in the future. I was reluctant to switch to musicology at first because I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t have an in-depth understanding of what a career in that would look like. I did the URLF program to give it a test run and see if I liked it,” Lay said. “Everyone was so helpful, and it went so smoothly. It was such a great opportunity that now I know I want to switch to that career path.”

Alan Green, Head of the Music & Dance Library, helped Lay identify research topics for the URLF program and found a composer that matched her interests. Collaborating with library employees, collections and resources enhanced Lay’s URLF research and has had a lasting impact.

“The staff at the Music & Dance Library is incredible. They are so friendly, and so eager and willing to help anyone and everyone,” she said. “If I have any questions, I can go there and I leave with way more resources than I ever thought I needed.”

This impact has carried beyond the walls of the library. “The staff showed me different online resources to use to obtain books and articles,” Lay said. “[During the pandemic,] I couldn’t travel to campus to pick up resources on a regular basis, so learning about different online resources that I could collect that important information from was invaluable—something that I continue to use to this day."

When asked why other students should visit the Music & Dance Library, Lay says there is something there for everyone.

“There are amazing resources for your classes. You can check out CDs and books. We have a listening room where you can listen to vinyl albums. We have a ton of microfilms and printed music scores. The resources that you can gain by going there are incredible. The staff is always so willing to help people and friendly,” Lay said.

“I feel like a lot of times classical music or professional music in general can be seen as a space where people don’t necessarily feel welcome, and this is the complete opposite at the Music & Dance Library,” she continued. “Everybody is welcome.”

To learn more about the Music & Dance Library including location, contact information, recommended resources and more, please visit our website.