Karen has been Music and Academic Services Librarian at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland since 1988. She previously completed a research Masters at the University of Exeter in 1981, and was awarded PhD in Music from the University of Glasgow in 2009. Her book, Our Ancient National Airs: Scottish Song Collecting from the Enlightenment to the Romantic Era, was published by Ashgate in March 2013.

In October 2012, she embarked upon a 3-year AHRC-funded project at Glasgow University, seconded for two days a week to be post-doctoral Researcher with Principal Investigator Dr David McGuinness, researching bass culture in Scottish fiddle music.