Library director works as restaurant, music critic

IUS Horizon

“Sapere aude” is a Latin phrase which means “dare to discern” or dare to know. It means to be enlightened, learn things and to make decisions based on rational knowledge. Marty Rosen, director of Library Services, said he is a strong believer in this.

Rosen’s career paths reflect this Latin phrase. As a writer for the Courier Journal and his position at IU Southeast, Rosen said he learns things on a daily basis.

“In the journalism field, you must stay curious and have a passion for learning about people and things,” Rosen said. “In the library, it is a field that changes a lot and I’m fortunate enough to be in a stimulating environment surrounded by smart and interesting people. I like working with books and around academic settings.”

Rosen began writing for the Courier Journal in spring 1998 where he writes columns on food and dining. Prior to writing for the Courier Journal, Rosen wrote a music column and feature writing for LEO.

Rosen writes two columns a week for the Courier Journal.

“I observe the environment, eat and assign a rating through a four-star system with half stars,” Rosen said. “In terms of food, I order an appetizer and an entrée. The size of the portion isn’t a lead of quality for me. If I see there is special treatment toward me from the server and that they are neglecting their other customers, I will include that in my review.”

Due to the relatively small region, Rosen is not able to always remain anonymous when he reviews restaurants. He does, however, try to be as discreet as possible.

“I do not make reservations in my own name,” he said, “but I am not easily disguised, either. I try to be anonymous but at this juncture, especially in fine dining, I start from a stance that someone will recognize me at each restaurant.”

Typically, one to three other people accompany Rosen to the restaurant when he reviews.

“In America, it is a paradigm to eat in a group,” Rosen said. “My time is valuable to me and, with three other people, I can have a taste of four dishes at once to critique.”

Rosen said he chooses his restaurants to critique by mixing it up in terms of style, geography and pricing throughout the metro region.

“My editors trust me and pretty much allow me to decide what I’m going to do,” he said. “I also receive e-mails from people from the area recommending restaurants to me that I should check out.”

Rosen said a variety of food on the menu is what he looks for also when critiquing.

“I look for a mix of techniques and presentation,” he said. “I try a variety of food on the menu to see their different techniques for cooking food. I look for the overall quality of the restaurant.”

Rosen said critiquing restaurants is a business where the reviewer must be thick-skinned and not too sensitive.

“People occasionally get mad at me and my opinions,” he said. “I try to be accurate, fair and constructive in every review. People complain that I didn’t rate a restaurant high or low enough to match their own personal experience. As a writer, I’m subject to criticism, too. You have to take criticism if you are in the criticism business.”

Other than the Courier Journal, Rosen has been the director of Library Services at IU Southeast since 2000. He represents the IUS Library and assumes a leadership position in a collegial environment.

“I inherited a staff of experienced, strong-valued people,” he said. “It is a light burden in what I do to work with an extremely strong staff in a great building with nice students.”

Rosen grew up in various parts of the Midwest until he was in high school, where he attended Jeffersonville High School. Rosen had gone to 15 different elementary and middle schools.

“My father was in the military and sales, so we moved around a lot,” he said. “It had its advantages and disadvantages. I liked meeting a lot of different people and I became good at meeting people but it was sad to have to leave my friends.”

While living in Iowa in his eighth grade year, Rosen spent many days in his local library, where he developed an early interest in the library system.

“A librarian asked me if I wanted a job putting books up at the library and I accepted,” he said. “I learned how to shelve books and learned the library system. After awhile, the librarians started asking my opinion on what books children my age would enjoy.”

Rosen received his bachelor’s degree in music history from the University of Louisville and his master’s degree in library and information science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign chapter. His musical instrument in college was the classical guitar.

“At 32, I attended the University of Louisville as a non-traditional student. People should realize that they will always have choices and it’s never too late to go to school,” Rosen said.


Staff Writer