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Paying a Visit to The Floyd Werle Library

Tech. Sgt. Devon Landis combs the stacks for just the right piece of music.  (AF photo by CMSgt Jan Duga)

Tech. Sgt. Devon Landis combs the stacks for just the right piece of music. (AF photo by CMSgt Jan Duga)

The plaque outside The Werle Library at the United States Air Force Band's historic Hanger 2. (AF photo by CMSgt Jan Duga)

The plaque outside The Werle Library at the United States Air Force Band's historic Hanger 2. (AF photo by CMSgt Jan Duga)

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C. -- The Floyd Werle Library within historic Hangar 2 on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C. holds over one hundred thousand musical compositions. The compositions within these four walls are considered treasures to musicians throughout the world, and hold interest even for musical novices.

In addition to sheet music, The Werle Library is also the Air Force's repository for rare, one-of-a-kind documents that relate to Air Force music, dating back to our Army Air Corps days. One can easily immerse themselves into our Air Force heritage by exploring this amazing collection of manuscript scores, audio recordings, video footage, photographs, and historic papers and artifacts.

The United States Air Force named its premier music library in honor of retired Chief Master Sgt. Floyd E. Werle on January 9, 2008. As the head of the composing and arranging staff of the Band (now music production), Chief Werle devoted his long and distinguished career to the U.S. Air Force by composing or arranging 982 works. For those keeping count, this tremendous creative output of musical compositions by Chief Werle exceeded the total works of John Philip Sousa by 255.

Serving ten chiefs of staff, from Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg to Gen. Charles Gabriel, Chief Werle was charged with writing music to inspire Airmen, establish the Air Force's premier band as "America's International Musical Ambassadors," tell the Air Force story to the American public, and to let "mom and pop" know about the great work their sons and daughters were doing in their service to our nation.

In order to attract a broad spectrum of the nation and the world, Chief Werle leveraged not only his own abilities, but also the diverse composing skills of the entire music production staff. Chief Werle's monumental efforts were vital in meeting the strategic communication needs of the Air Force's top leadership. His most notable accomplishment was the music he and his staff wrote in support of over 30,000 live performances and the highly acclaimed "Serenade in Blue" radio broadcasts, which aired from 1948 to 1980.

According to Col. Larry Lang, the Band's commander and conductor, "The Band's previous librarian, Chief Master Sgt. Joe Tersero, was directly responsible for naming the library in honor of Chief Werle and for transforming the library into one of the most respected and technologically advanced music performance libraries in the world." Chief Tersero served as the Band's chief music librarian for over 21 years, performed with the Concert Band and Symphony Orchestra, and also served as the Band's chief enlisted manager for 18 months prior to his retirement earlier this year.

The Band's present music librarian, Tech. Sgt. Devon Landis, is the third full-time music librarian in Air Force music history. Landis is a music theory graduate from the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y., and has many facets to her unique Air Force job - preserving and cataloging the scores is only one small portion of the larger mission.

"It was the best major for me, because I like to write music. I arrange music, play music, conduct music - I kind of do everything," said Landis. "The music library is a place where I can help everyone in the band, from officers all the way down, in every flight."

In her 6 years of service as a staff librarian assigned to The United States Air Force Band, Landis has helped preserve many treasures in this historic musical collection - scores from state funerals, dignitaries' visits, high profile events, and the list goes on.

"You will find a lot of things here," said Landis. "You can see the history of the Air Force written right on the sheet music."

Today, The Werle Library is staffed with four full-time composers/arrangers, one full-time librarian and a part-time staff of collateral duty Band members, including eight assistant music librarians, two music licensing specialists and two2 historians.

The Band's current chief composer and arranger is Senior Master Sgt. Bob Thurston. He is proud to be a part of the Air Force tradition of great composers and arrangers. As you stroll down the hallway next to the library, you can see the photos and manuscript scores of some of these great musicians, including Samuel Barber, Henry Mancini, John Williams, Sammy Nestico, Lawrence Odom, Michael Davis, Mike Crotty, Larry MacTaggart and Jari Villanueva." According to Colonel Lang, this staff is the hub for making every mission or performance, by the six performing ensembles in the Band a resounding success. The musicians have to have the sheet music in order to prepare for the over 1,600 performances annually.

The mission of the library is to provide sheet music to support the Band's mission, which is to honor those who have served, inspire American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and positively impact the global community on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the United States of America.

According to the Band's newly assigned historian, Master Sgt. Jennifer Tersero, "The Werle Library is a major resource for musicians, historians, authors and college students working on their masters thesis and doctorial dissertations." Among the libraries holdings are special collections which include the Col. George S. Howard Collection, the Sammy Nestico Collection, the Women's Air Force Band Collection and several other collections donated by former Band members. The library is open to researchers by appointment via the contact us link on the Band's website.

It's inspiring to see The Werle Library and its staff at work. They are at the forefront of bringing out the right tool or musical selection to bridge language, cultural, societal and socio-economic differences to advance international relationships and inspire positive and long-lasting impressions of the U.S. Air Force and the United States of America.