Longtime library worker chooses KSL’s Dampeer Room for dissertation defense

Samuel Nemeth at KSL welcome desk

Recent alumnus Samuel Nemeth, PhD (GRS ‘24, musicology), spent nearly 3 ½ years writing his dissertation titled, “‘Ces Magnifiques Instruments: Sound, Power, and Romantic Orchestral Technologies, 1789–1869”—and when it came time to defend it—he could think of no better place than his second home on campus, Case Western Reserve University’s Kelvin Smith Library.

“I started work as a student assistant at the library back in 2021 and the Dampeer Room was one of my favorites because it’s fancy yet not imposing,” said Nemeth.

The New Jersey native said while some scholars opt for a private dissertation defense, he preferred to present his musicology dissertation to an audience in a community-facing atmosphere in the second-floor Dampeer Room.

“I knew I was going to be nervous if there were four people in the room or 40,” said Nemeth, of his November 2023 dissertation defense. “But having it in a familiar place with friends, family and coworkers surrounding me, was like a little bit of a home-field advantage.”

Nemeth’s successful dissertation covers the period following the turmoil of the French Revolution, focusing on the way musical instruments—woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings—functioned in concert halls and military environments and carried meanings and messages of political upheaval and revolutionary violence throughout the nineteenth century and up to the start of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.

Nemeth, who held many jobs at KSL—from greeting visitors at the welcome desk and facilitating patron access at the Service Center to categorizing the program and liner notes for the Kulas Music Library Collection—says his familiarity with the library’s research resources helped with the dissertation process.

“From copyright formatting or requesting an interlibrary loan, I was fortunate to have so many people around me to help,” he said.

Nemeth stresses that those library resources are available to everyone.

“Because Kelvin Smith Library is part of a major research institution, all of the librarians have expertise that sometimes students don’t even know they need,” said Nemeth.

He now finds himself on the other side of his dissertation, serving as a part-time instructor of performing arts at Ohio Wesleyan University. He teaches “Appreciation of Music Literature” and “Music of the 18th and 19th Centuries.”

“It’s a lot of fun to finally be doing what I set out to do ten years ago,” said Nemeth. “I look forward to continuing as a music history teacher.”

KSL Resources

Specialized subject area research and engagement librarians are available to help students from early assignments through a thesis and dissertation. Students are encouraged to visit this page to find KSL librarians within their specific subject area in the College of Arts & Sciences, Case School of Engineering and Weatherhead School of Management. 

Faculty and staff can also partner with research and engagement librarians for resource instruction, developing digital or information literacy assignments, collection management and research support.