Since October 2012, the former concert organist has been fixing old maps and books as map conservator and book mender in the Southern History Department in the Linn-Henley Research Building, Central Library. He occasionally does this work as a favor to patrons, but many of them are unaware of the fascinating jobs Boncella did in his previous career that allowed him to showcase his musical talents across the globe.
Prior to joining BPL, Boncella spent 13 years as a concert organist, including performances in the former West Germany, and as a church organist. He also published musicological studies in several publications, presenting his research at conferences in Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, Spain, and throughout the U.S. Boncella also served as an instructor of music at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore while pursuing his graduate degree there, and at Rutgers University in New Jersey while pursuing his doctorate in musicology. He also taught music in Alabama community colleges for 12 years before joining BPL.
“My work as a musician and a musicologist prepared me for my current job,” said Boncella, who also says his hobby of genealogy also led him to join BPL.
Name: Paul Boncella.
Title: Map conservator and book mender in the Southern History Department, Linn-Henley Research Library.
Hometown: Central New York.
College: BM and MM in organ performance from Johns Hopkins University; MA, MPhil, and PhD in musicology from Rutgers University.
How long with BPL: Four years.
What you do: Prepare antique maps for digitization, storage, and study; repair and rebuild books in the Tutwiler Collection; provide genealogy reference assistance to patrons; develop and teach genealogy classes.
Favorite part of your job: Map conservation affords me the privilege of handling beautiful, valuable maps that date as far back as the 1500s, and it gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I have put them on the path to surviving for centuries to come.
Favorite book: Dune by Frank Herbert.
Favorite movie: Dune (David Lynch, 1984).
Favorite Television Show: Anything with Jacques Pepin in it.
Favorite quote Paul uses as a guide in life: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
How to reach Paul: Office: 205-226-3663; Southern History Department: 205-226-3665; or visit him at the Southern History Department.