Samuel William Zarnocay came to Ohio University from Cleveland, Ohio, in the late 1920s as a rising track star who also played basketball and baseball and studied civil engineering.
However, by his sophomore year, he became a recognizable face—not in the gym or the classroom—but in the dance hall leading a band.
Zarnocay, who changed his name to Sammy Kaye because he found the simpler last name made it easier to book events, soon became famous across the country as a bandleader and a songwriter. He went on to have both radio and television success.
On Wednesday, Feb. 21, three OHIO librarians plan to host a workshop highlighting the Libraries’ Sammy Kaye Collection of music scores, audio recordings, correspondence, media coverage, photographs and memorabilia, which was donated to the Libraries as part of Kaye’s estate after his 1987 death.
Christopher Guder, Bryan McGeary and Carla Williams will lead the workshop, titled “‘Swing and Sway’ or Calculated Payday,” and examine the commercial preoccupations of Kaye.
The workshop is the first in a three-part Impact Through Action series hosted by the Libraries. Each workshop will run from 12:05 to 1 p.m. in the Friends of the Library room on the third floor of Alden Library (319).
Guder, the subject librarian for education, said the trio recently gave a similar presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in November. They then applied to present in the Impact Through Action series.
“I kept walking by the Sammy Kaye sign that hangs in the building, and I have listened to a lot of jazz,” Guder said. “So, I was just looking for a project and a way to connect with that collection and learn more about it. We have been trying to figure out ways to get people connected with [the Libraries’] special collections. I hope faculty and staff can kind of latch onto something we are doing and roll with it. That is my hope.”
Williams, the music and special projects librarian, said she plans to focus on Kaye’s life and his musical style, Guder plans to focus on the Libraries’ Kaye Collection, and McGeary, the subject librarian for the humanities, plans to focus on Kaye’s marketing and commercial personality.
“[Participants] don’t need to have studied Kaye,” Williams said, adding she hopes to bring some recordings of his music to introduce attendees to his sound. “I will give background on him, and Chris will give background about the collection.”
McGeary said by highlighting various ways to understand the Sammy Kaye Collection, students may be encouraged to look further into Kaye’s life and music, as well as the materials inside the Libraries’ archives and special collections in general.
“[The collection and workshop are] more about something that is pop culture,” he said. “[We hope it might] give some people some ideas about, ‘How can I do some kind of library research that is out of the ordinary?’”
The second and third workshops in the series, titled “Wake Up and Get to Work” and “What can Libraries Learn from Disney’s Customer Service?” respectively, will take place on March 27 and April 11 in the Friends of the Library room.