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Volume 10, Issue 2, Spring 2010(1)

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JIVE in the Music Library

by Karen Snively

He walked into the library looking timid and a bit nervous – his fingers winding around the string on his hoodie sweatshirt.  I was a bit nervous too, but less nervous than with my first JIVE student; now I feel excited to meet and learn about someone new.  The cooperating JMU student introduced us; his name is

Karen Snively
Karen Snively, Music Library Services Manager

Michael.  We shook hands; I welcomed him to the music library, thanked him for coming to work with us, and asked him if he liked music.  He nodded, so I asked him what kind of music he liked.  He said that his Dad likes jazz, but it came out “my Dad dikes daaazz”.  I asked him if he likes jazz; he shrugged, then hesitated a bit and offered that he likes fieldtrips. 


It required some focus and a bit of patience to understand Michael, but the more we talked the easier time I had understanding his words – most start with ‘d’, and the vowels are drawn out.  Often I had to ask him to repeat words or sentences or ask for translation from the JMU student, but he didn’t seem to mind the questions.  As it turns out Michael loved to talk, and to have someone listen.  By the end of his time in the music library we discussed everything going on in his life: classes, field trips, hobbies, girls and his dog. I saw so much life and spirit when I looked into his eyes. 


Michael is a special education student in Rockingham County and came to work with us through the JIVE (Jump into Vocational Exploration) program.  The JIVE program is a collaborative effort between James Madison University JMU, Rockingham County Public Schools, Harrisonburg City Public Schools, and VDOE Region 5 Training and Technical Assistance Training Center, or T/TAC. High school students with disabilities participate in real-life work experiences and assessments along with the assistance of a JMU special education major.  JMU provides placement in various areas throughout campus for these work assessments. 

The Music Library has provided placement for five high school students over the past few years.  Students work with the library for three to four and one half hours total with weekly sessions lasting between one to one and a half hours each.  Depending on their interests and abilities, students perform a variety of tasks including circulation of materials, database entry, labeling materials, and photocopying.  The cooperating JMU student and supervisor meet in advance to identify appropriate tasks for each individual JIVE student. 


I can’t help but reflect on the five students we have hosted in the Music Library over the past couple years, and I am blown away by the determination and focus of these students.  Though their capabilities vary as much as their interests, they all put forth real effort and hard work.  One student was able to master keying orders into our library online system, a multi-step process that requires much attention and concentration.  Another with an interest in technology spent much time transferring and digitizing audio.   Another had a big, warm smile accompanied by a bubbly giggle: she liked the activity out front and enthusiastically greeted each patron as they came to the desk.  It is also gratifying to observe the compassion from the patrons who come to the Public Services Desk and are helped by the JIVE students; they don’t shy away and are not afraid to walk up to them.  Recently one JIVE student was simply having a bad day and just needed to close the office door and cry for a bit.  The JIVE students really show their human side, and they are so genuine; they remind how human and vulnerable we all are.


We had great success working with these students and are continually impressed with their willingness and enthusiasm. They are a great help to the music library and the program offers a great experience in diversity!  It was an enriching experience for all; even the teaching assistants were excited to discover the ‘gold-mine’ of materials in the music library.  It was also rewarding and surprising to experience the bond that was formed between everyone involved in such a short time.  After observing interactions between participants, Brian Cockburn, Music Librarian, put is so well when he remarked “it makes the heart glad”.


These students have reinforced in me the truth that we all have individual talents and make unique contributions, which is a really good reminder in my role as a student supervisor.   I still get nervous when starting with a new JIVE student, but now it is more of an excited nervousness to learn about a new person and discover the unique contributions they have to offer.  All it really takes is being open and receptive, and all will work out fine.  


For more information about the JIVE program at JMU, see the Education Training and Technical Assistance Center Secondary Transition web site. For further questions about JIVE experiences in the music library, please contact Karen Snively snivelkl@jmu.edu.  Library participation in the JIVE program is coordinated by Susan Thomas thoma2sm@jmu.edu.


Reba Leiding, Editor

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