From the Executive Director
Dear CBMR Digest readers, I am happy to introduce the inaugural issue of the online version of the Center for Black Music Research’s newsletter. CBMR staff (particularly deputy director Morris Phibbs and webmaster Peter Shultz) worked diligently and in close collaboration with the Columbia College design team over the last several months to bring this to fruition. Our goal in doing so is to provide you with a more dynamic and accessible experience. Conceptually, Digest online closely parallels the print version. The role of Digest has not changed—it still exists to bring you up to date on CBMR activities and provide information related to its mission. Section headings and content organization have migrated more or less without change; you can still expect to easily find regular columns such as “News and Notes,” “CBMR News,” and “In Memoriam,” as well as notices of opportunities, calls for scores, lists of upcoming meetings, and the roster of current CBMR Associate Members. I think of Digest online as not necessarily new, but certainly enhanced. It has a simple, modern, streamlined design and (hopefully) intuitive and immersive navigation that will allow users to link to rich content including annotative information, audio and video clips, and photo galleries.
Access to Digest online is open to members and nonmembers alike. The increased access allows the CBMR to share its work with a wider audience. Simultaneously, the online version reduces printing costs and environmental impact. We do not, however, want to lose a single reader of Digest because of this transition. The CBMR will send an electronic notification to every member for whom we have an e-mail address as each new issue is posted to the website. We will use surface mail to send a [black and white photocopied ] version to any member who does not have access to a computer or who prefers a hard copy.
The success of Digest online holds a kind of symbolism. The fact that this has been a challenging year for the CBMR is well-known to many of you. The Center has endured extraordinary budget cuts, position eliminations, and its battles on the front lines of Columbia College’s campus-wide prioritization initiative have been chronicled in the Chicago Tribune and other media. Digest online was born of necessity in the face of those cuts, mandated about this time last year. The print version had served the CBMR and its members well for a long time and we did not initially interpret its forced demise positively. However, faced with the challenge, CBMR staff has created a richer, more accessible newsletter that will serve more Center constituents better.
While the CBMR’s institutional challenges are not yet over, there are signs that we will have a solid platform from which to work. Contrary to the college’s interim provost’s recommendation that the CBMR be entirely eliminated, President Carter’s recommendations for the Center (which were approved by the Columbia Board of Trustees in June) state that he does intend for it to continue—albeit at a reduced budget and with several other complicated contingencies. The long work of implementation has now begun, and the CBMR will undoubtedly see additional changes as this process goes forward. Whether these will be structural, operational, programmatic, or some combination remains to be seen. More importantly, though, it looks as though the CBMR mission, its holdings, and the resolve of its staff will move forward intact. Please read “Current Status of the CBMR” for more information about Columbia’s prioritization process.
On behalf of the entire staff, I want to offer sincere and heartfelt thanks to all the CBMR supporters who mobilized with such a fierce sense of purpose in support of the CBMR in the face of the interim provost’s negative recommendations. Your letters, emails, blog posts, Facebook pages, tweets, op eds, and petitions kept us energized and determined, and surely delivered a strong message about the necessity of the CBMR’s mission to the field, including the study and preservation of black music and culture around the world. Please know, though, that your engagement with the Center and its mission continues to be essential as we work to move forward in what we hope will ultimately be new and enhanced ways.
Please stay in touch and let us know what you think about Digest online!