Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Greater Atlanta, GA, USA
University of South Carolina’s Dean of
Libraries, Thomas McNally, has become a favorite speaker at the Burns
Club of Atlanta. He electrified the crowd attending this week’s monthly
meeting with his remarks and led a discussion that lasted nearly 45
minutes. Most interestingly, he did not let a cold or virus keep him
puny during the speech or the group discussion.
We will concern ourselves with the part of his speech that touched on
the late Jean Redpath, the very talented singer of Scottish songs and
particularly songs by Robert Burns. Susan and I met Jean through
Professor Ross Roy, a mutual friend and a giant among friends of Burns.
Before their deaths, Ross and Jean had been friends for many years, and
I imagine he had a lot to do with the donation of her music library to
the University of South Carolina. We were delighted to attend Jean’s
concert at the university and enjoyed an evening of songs and chat and
found the crowd leaving with smiles on their faces as thoughts of her
songs and stories lingered in their minds.
Tom McNally is a talented speaker and one of his admirers said the good
Dean of Libraries “knew how to make those attending a speech of his feel
included which every speaker of Burns cannot do”. Tom will be invited
back to the Burns Club of Atlanta because as another in attendance said,
“He knows how to deliver”!
Biography of Thomas F. McNally
Dean of Libraries, University of South Carolina
Thomas F. McNally
Tom McNally has served as Dean of Libraries
at the University of South Carolina since 2009. A former classroom
teacher turned librarian, Dean McNally began his library career as a
reference librarian at Ohio State University in 1978. He went on to hold
positions at the University of Michigan and Loyola University of Chicago
before coming to USC in 1991.
Dean McNally currently oversees an annual budget of nearly $15 million
and a library endowment in excess of $10 million, and has administrative
responsibility for public services, processing services, special
collections, and library advancement. USC Libraries employ 52
professionals and 92 additional staff.
Dean McNally earned his B.S. in Education from Kent State University and
an M.L.S. from the University of Washington.
A Brief Look at a Very Important Robert Burns Singer
So what about Jean Redpath? When Jean passed
away we learned that she had left the rights to many of her recordings
to our library. I had met Jean when she was in Columbia, but had only
spoken briefly with her. I never imagined she would make a bequest to
the library. My first thought was that maybe there was some money in
this for the library. I always think that way.
I really had no way of gaging how much interest there was in Jean
Redpath. What should I do with the rights to music? Should I put out the
Jean Redpath greatest hits volume 1?
One of the first things I did was to call my old friends Frank and Susan
Shaw. I wanted to know how they felt about Jean. Did they have the
recordings they wanted, would they want more, was there a demand for
Jean’s music? They made it clear to me that any recordings they wanted,
they had acquired long ago.
Then, quite by chance, I looked at YouTube to see if there were any of
Jean’s recordings that might have been pirated or intentionally put
Without anyone going for your smartphone, how many Jean Redpath
recordings would you guess are on YouTube? The answer is over 12,000.
But here is the interesting thing, that day I called Frank and Susan,
the number that were on YouTube was 5,000. That was two years ago.
When I first saw all of these videos, I thought that I would have the
USC Legal Office contact YouTube and have the videos that used our
recordings taken down. YouTube is quite responsive to these requests and
we monitor it for other collections like the Movie Tone News.
But then I asked myself what would Jean have wanted? Jean never wanted
to be rich or famous, she just wanted to sing. I realized that YouTube
and its 12,000 videos was the legacy that would have thrilled Jean.
Actually, I think Jean was very wise to give us the rights. She knew we
would make her music part of our Scottish literature collection and that
we would protect her recordings forever.
So I say let Jean sing, let Google and the robots rule the world. And
let me live long enough to see robot referees.
Thank you for allowing me to visit with you once again.
Chapter 206 Jean Redpath, A Memory By Kirsteen McCue