Staff ID - Meet Marlene Wong

Learn more about the Head of Werner Josten Performing Arts Library and dog agility expert!

Marlene Wong
Head of Werner Josten Performing Arts Library
(413) 585-2931,


Marlene has been with Smith for 30 years in the Werner Josten Performing Arts Library, an important interdisciplinary collection that includes a research music library, extensive contemporary playscripts, and a model dance collection. It circulates a wide range of music CDs and performing arts DVDs, which are supplemented by extensive streaming audio and video resources which can be accessed 24/7.

Josten holds an informal concert series on the mezzanine level every First Friday, plans an Interterm film series, maintains  a Josten Facebook page, and circulates ukuleles!  [Ukulele master, Stuart Fuchs, will also be teaching beginning, intermediate and "Yogalele" workshops at Josten Library on Sunday, September 29, 2013 - more info.]

We asked Marlene a few questions about herself and her work in Josten.

Where did you work before coming to Smith?

University of California, Davis (music catalog and collection development librarian), and the Stanford University Music Library (music cataloger) I was born in NYC but lived in Manila, Philippines from the age of one to sixteen. My mother lives in the Rochester, NY area,

What is your subject specialty?

As a music, theatre and dance librarian, my specialty is collection development.

What is the best part of your job?

Interacting with patrons, scheduling one-on-one research appointments, and going to as many shows and concerts that I can fit into my schedule. I also realize how fortunate I am to work in an exceptional collection which has been developed with pride and a consistent vision by its music librarians since 1922.

Which library resource do you most like to tell people about?

There is no more dedicated and committed staff than that of the Smith College Libraries. This includes our student staff on whom we depend to run the libraries on a daily basis.

What inspired you to work in a library?

I discovered that there was actually a career in which I could combine my music and dance background with an interest/fascination with access to information. I blame my choice of profession on a chance encounter with a Simmons library school professor on the Boston T between the Riverside and Fenway stops.

What do you think libraries of the future will look like?

There will still be a place for and need to consult specialist-curated library collections and a role for skilled and knowledgeable librarians.

What is your favorite getaway, near or far?

The local T.J. Max stores. I LOVE housewares!

What do you like to do the most when you are not at work?

Practice the ukulele, which I recently started to play. I have re-discovered the art and comfort of studying, practicing and performing music. Very good for the soul.

I read a lot of cookbooks, am a specialist in the art songs of Smith composer John Duke, and have a project about soprano Janet Fairbank and the American art song in the forties. I have had long stints as church organist at two local churches.

Is there something about you that others would be surprised to learn?

I have trained and competed in the sport of dog agility with my standard poodle, Louie Louie, who is named after Louis XIV, Louis Pécour (dancing master at the French court), and the song, “Louie, Louie.”

Louie Louie's name is a salute to my time studying and performing Baroque dance with musicologist Anne Witherell and dance scholar Wendy Hilton.

What is currently in your iPod/DVD drive etc.?

"No Frills (2006)" - with Lyle Ritz on both jazz ukulele and bass. Lyle Ritz "literally invented" jazz ukulele in the late fifties. It is Lyle on ukulele in "Tonight You Belong to Me," which was sung by Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in the move, "The Jerk."

What is the most rewarding thing that has happened to you recently?

Bringing ukulele master Stuart Fuchs to campus to perform and teach. Promoting active music-making through the ukulele lending program at Josten Library, which has been wildly successful with students and the community. Forging partnerships to make these ukulele programs possible with the Department of Music, the Friends of the Libraries, the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, the Smith Ukulele Club ("Smith Ukes"), and Downtown Sounds, the local music store. A special shout out  to Sadie Gold-Shapiro ’16 and the Forbes Library for inspiring the original ukulele lending program.

Please stop by and say "hello" to Marlene in the Werner Josten Performing Arts Library.