Music Sandwiched In: A Retrospective

BY TODD STEPHENS

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In April 1997, when the Headquarters of the Library moved from the edge of Converse Heights to downtown Spartanburg, we knew the information age was on the cusp of significant change as the Internet shouldered its way into the mainstream. If the acquisition and presentation of information was to undergo a revolution, then the library must remain pliable and change as well.

Libraries are not passive institutions.  Libraries are a vital and intricate part of a community’s educational and cultural fabric. To remain relevant, Libraries must program spaces in and out of its walls.

Nineteen years ago, the Headquarters Library Opening Festivities Planning Committee, chaired by Wendy Mayrose, focused on programming that engaged, educated, and entertained the greater Spartanburg community.  The planning committee did not have the benefit of present day technology.  They did not have access to analytics and the street level analysis of household behaviors.  What the committee did have was a keen understanding of the importance of meaningful interpersonal relationships and programming public spaces with ideas and information.

With this mindset as the frame, Hank Barnet, serving as a member of the planning committee, suggested the creation of Music Sandwiched In, a lunchtime program featuring local musicians – a rather simple concept.

Since 1997, thousands of individuals have enjoyed jazz, bluegrass, sneak peaks of the Spartanburg Little Theatre’s musical productions from Footloose to Hairspray, and of course the always popular Foothills Oompah Band.  During Music Sandwiched In the doors of the Barrett Room are left open, and the 105,000 square foot library is filled with music, laughter, and applause.

Hank’s idea has blossomed into a musical program that has continued to enrich the lives of others for 19 years.  Music Sandwiched In has been replicated at our branch locations and has led to spin off programs such as Books Sandwiched In and Cinema Sandwiched In.

Music Sandwiched In is free, entertaining, and intergenerational.  Our audiences come from White Oak Estates, Boiling Springs High School, Summit Hills and Meeting Street Academy (just to name a few).  There are weeks when we have school busses lined up with the buses from our assisted living facilities.  As a community, we are strong when an 8-year-old is able to sit next to a 98-year-old and share in the same experience.  We are active when we allow music to flood our senses and to stimulate our thinking. 

The Spartanburg Philharmonic have brought first rate musicians into the library for our public to enjoy – for free.  It is the vitality in this partnership that has allowed Music Sandwiched In to continue to enrich the lives of others.  A simple, yet impactful idea:  music and a sandwich.

For the full list of Music Sandwiched In concerts, click HERE.