Picky Professors

Susan Shirk is the most powerful person in the Carleton music department. Larry ArchboldLarry Archbold

As acquisitions specialist and music collections curator, Shirk helms the Music Resource Center. But perhaps more importantly, she decides which Carleton music professor’s face will adorn a custom guitar pick.

We’re talking a serious honor here. Andrea MazzarielloAndrea Mazzariello

“Susan doesn’t announce to the rest of us who gets chosen. One day, you just find out, ‘Oh, I have a guitar pick with my face on it. Cool!’ ” says professor and department chair Nikki Melville. “It absolutely is an honor.”

Shirk made the first pick last year to commemorate longtime professor Lawrence Archbold’s retirement. “He’s the original,” she says. “We had this fantastic picture of him that all the music majors loved, so I thought, why not put that on a guitar pick?” Ron RodmanRon Rodman Feedback from students—and heavy demand from alumni who wanted their own Archbold picks—inspired her to expand the collection.

The picks are available to anyone at the Music Resource Center and, presumably, some people actually use them to play guitars. Speculation is rampant as to whom Shirk will choose to join the exclusive club of Archbold, Melville, Justin London, Ron Rodman, and Andrea Mazzariello. (Andy Flory, answer your phone.)

“Students definitely lobby for who they want in,” says Shirk, which causes Melville to gasp.

“Oh, no! I’m glad I’m already in!” she says.

Nikki MelvilleNikki Melville “Honestly, it’s mostly about who has the best picture available,” says Shirk, adding that she was inspired by another popular campus tchotchke: the Gould Library staff members’ custom trading cards.

She is hopeful that the picks will be an incentive for Carls to visit the Music Resource Center at its new digs in Weitz 148. The center moved there this summer with the completion of the music and performance commons. New picks are also announced on the center’s Facebook page (facebook.com/CarletonMRC).  

“It’s a fun thing,” Melville says. “Now I get to think about someone using my face to play guitar. That’s not weird, right?”


  • September 11 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I took that photo of Larry! LOVE these picks, I want the whole collection, especially Nikki :)

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