Russell Shriner, Music Library Founder
In 1977, Russell Shriner, former French horn player with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and retired faculty member from Alexander Graham School found a satisfying way to continue his longtime interest in music.
Gene Bryant, first department head of CPCC Visual and Performing Arts, requested his help in collecting and organizing records and other music materials for the Music Library, and by 1978 Mr. Shriner had collected more than 3,000 records, books and scores. For a number of years he came to the Music Department each day to work on cataloguing the fast growing collection and by 1984 the number surpassed 7,000. At first he worked without pay, but later he was hired as a part time employee. Mr. Shriner had a knack of acquiring more materials. "I’ve begged and begged and people have responded well," he stated. "Students give. Faculty members give. Record companies give. People getting ready to move out of state give." Pretty soon he ran out of space for the donations, especially when individual collections were contributed such as the 500 records of former WBTV weatherman Clyde "Cloudy" McLean.
He was most helpful and enthusiastic about his recordings and encouraged students and faculty alike to listen, broadening their knowledge of different composers. He would often catch a faculty member in the hall and hand you an index card with customized listening suggestions "just for you." He also delighted in providing music puzzles, quizzes or a mystery composition that challenged all of us.
He had a wonderful sense of humor. Every morning I would greet him with "Mr. Shriner, how are you today?" and with a twinkle in his blue eyes he would invariably say "I’m better now." I particularly remember his comment as he kneeled to find a record on the lowest shelf… "Let me assume an attitude of prayer."
He cared for his recordings as if they were family members, and woe be to anyone who misplaced, scratched or abused them. You could expect a gentle but serious scolding.
Upon retirement from his full time position he made a pact with himself to listen to one new piece each week and spend at least four hours each day listening and reading. He also read every word on record jackets and more often than not wrote helpful comments on the quality of the recording.
Mr. Shriner died in September 1991.