A Joint Meeting of the Music Library Association and the Theatre Library Association, Online, March 1-5, 2021

Community Choice Vote

Titles and abstracts (but not proposer name and affiliation) will be shared with the MLA membership at large via an online survey, for a two-week period. Following a vote by the membership, proposals with the highest number of votes will be selected for our Annual Meeting program.

To vote, please review the proposals below (click on a title to view abstract). The link to the voting form is posted below the sessions descriptions.

Music librarians already engage with music departments, but they can also build communities across campus that pull in participants from other academic disciplines. The University of XXXXX, to foster such interdisciplinary collaboration, held a competition to provide seed grants for collaborative projects dubbed “Communities of Research Scholars” (CoRS). As librarians, we felt like we could build such a community and thus proposed the XXXXX Film and Music Collective, a collaborative community to assist in the creation of films by pairing filmmakers with musicians to write original music and researchers to help ensure historical accuracy and authenticity. Our proposal was ultimately selected and awarded a $2500 grant. By leading a collaborative project between multiple departments—history, music, film, and the libraries—we brought together a diverse campus community. In our presentation, we will highlight both our successes and our failures so that other music library professionals can also create campus communities at their institutions, regardless of grant funding. We will detail the project start-up—from gaining the interest of other faculty members to keeping everyone engaged along the way, along with some highlights from our first year and future goals. By sharing how our project has progressed, as well as our experiences with creating this community, we hope to encourage a discussion about the benefits of creating communities via less traditional library roles, as well as demonstrate the benefits of taking the initiative and not waiting for the community to come to us. 

During his lifetime the music of Stilwell, Oklahoma native Jack Frederick Kilpatrick (1915-1967) was performed by orchestras in such far-flung locations as San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Rome, Cologne, and London. Following his death, it lay unheard and forgotten in a storeroom of the University of XXXXX School of Music until a string of fortunate connections led to its rediscovery and, in the fall of 2019, a return to the concert hall. In addition to examining Kilpatrick’s life and works, this talk will use his story to illustrate the changing role of the University Libraries.

Probably no two women in the history of music could be as different from each other as the 12th century abbess, Hildegard von Bingen, and the 20th century American musical theatre performer, Ethel Merman. Both women achieved major success in their respective fields, and although they worked in very different genres of music, there were similarities in the ways that they approached the business of music, managed their musical careers, and influenced others in their respective fields.  The work of each of these women has been well-documented in print, audio, film, and video. Each part of this presentation will focus, respectively, on the life and musical work of each of these uniquely remarkable women and will also provide sample audio recordings and bibliographic and discographic information.

Although the names of Hildegard and Ethel Merman are well-known, their accomplishments, and the importance of their work, are not always readily recognized by musicians, researchers, or the music librarians who support that research.  Thus, each part of the presentation includes information about primary and secondary source materials related to each of these women.  The presentation also includes illustrations of the influence that each of these women had on composers:  Hildegard’s influence, particularly on the work of 20th and 21st century composers, and Merman’s influence on musical theatre composers in the 1930s and beyond.

Each of these women achieved a unique status in life in her own time.  Although they lived vastly different lifestyles in different eras, there are fascinating similarities in the ways that each woman carried out her professional duties, reached a high level of accomplishment that had significant influence on the world.  Both women were involved in the creation of new music within their respective areas; both women were involved with the creation and performance of new work in music drama/musical theatre; and both women were highly adept business women.

As a unique feature of the session on Ethel Merman, a rare interview recording will be demonstrated to the audience.  This recording was recently discovered in the collections of the Archive of Recorded Sound at Stanford University and was originally produced for radio stations in 1955.  It contains Merman’s pre-recorded answers to scripted questions that were asked by the local radio announcer. The radio interview will be re-enacted as part of this presentation with the session presenter reading the interview questions, live, from the original script, and Ms. Merman answering the questions via the recording.  Not only will this part of the presentation give clearer insight into the personality of Ms. Merman, but it will also demonstrate to the audience one of the fascinating commercial uses of sound recording in mid-century America.

It is the intention of this presentation to provide, or reinforce:  an awareness of the important and long-lasting contributions of women to the field of music during the past 900 years, an awareness of the influence that the work of these two particular women had on the work of composers and performers, and a guide to additional information related to both of these women.

Digital scholarship is a growing field that offers new and exciting opportunities for music research. Libraries are supporting this work in a number of ways, including creating centers, hiring specialists, highlighting research and methods through workshops and lectures, and providing individual help with projects. These efforts, however, cater primarily to faculty and PhD students. How can we use information literacy classes and workshops to introduce digital humanities (DH) methods and tools to undergraduates and masters level students in music? This presentation offers suggestions for doing just that without a steep learning curve or a substantial investment in time. I recommend two text analysis tools that can be used to demonstrate the power of DH for student research: the Google Books Ngram Viewer and JSTOR Text Analyzer. Both are appealing to students, who even describe them as not only powerful, but also fun. These tools can be introduced quickly and prove their usefulness easily.

From September-December 2019, a full-time intern assisted a reference specialist with a unique project: an inventory of primary sources related to Latin American composers in the Library. In this presentation, learn why the project was created, how it was planned and executed, what resources and composers are in the inventory, and future goals to make the information available to all. Most importantly, the presenter will share reflections, challenges, and resources applicable to any institution’s potential projects related to making composers of diverse backgrounds more visible in both current holdings and future collection development priorities.

For many scholars, critical analysis of film and media music is stymied by a lack of published or manuscript materials, and discoverability of such materials is many times hampered by how archival materials are cataloged. Yet, numerous composers have deposited their papers at libraries and archives across the globe, but for now many collections are mainly discovered via finding a stray citation in a book or word of mouth.

The reason for this is because archival collections are cataloged with a focus on the creator of the collection and not the individual object (such as a book or manuscript score). Therefore, if the score or other materials for a film are in a collection of a studio or someone other than the composer themselves, they might be hard, if not impossible, to find without a lot of searching or a stroke of luck. Adding to the difficulty is that some of these collections are not fully indexed or searchable, and so many materials remain hidden under a century of backlogged archival processing.

In order to address this problem, the Collections of Cinema and Media Music (C2M2) has been designed, built, and populated by a small team spread across the United States. The project is now being assisted by the Film Music Interest Group of the Music Library Association (MLA FMIG), and is dedicated to the task of helping make these important artifacts of the 20th century easily discoverable to scholars and researchers.

Our presentation will discuss the design and implantation of C2M2, with a focus on the task of creating a custom metadata schema that addresses the unique issues of film and media music, and the myriad of ways a researcher might be trying to access a particular score. In a discussion panel, we will dive into the database, show the metadata schema, and see how the metadata functions and displays within the database. It will also include discussions of the challenges inherent in a project of this scope. We also hope to discuss with the assembled scholars and librarians our hopes for the future of C2M2 and illustrate the types of materials that can be featured in it by drawing on examples from film score collections at University XXXX.

As research into film and media music continues to expand, scholars are clamoring for access to materials to expand their research beyond the realm of music-film relationships and into areas reliant on archival materials. In such a world, tools such as C2M2 will be critical in creating the ease of access that will eliminate the barriers that hamper such work. The database is operable and data is currently being input by members of the MLA FMIG. We expect dozens of manuscript collections and hundreds of scores to be available for discovery by the middle of 2020.


When Resources of American Music History (RAMH) was published in 1981, it was widely hailed as a landmark work that contributed significantly to forwarding studies in American music.  In the almost forty years since, though, the number of archival collections and heritage sites has multiplied around the country.  On-line finding aids have made many of these more readily discoverable, and any number of websites have attempted to consolidate information.
However, most of these either focus on a particular genre, geographical area, or musician, or they incorporate many non-musical resources.  Moreover, hundreds of smaller collections still have no on-line finding aids or other means to bring them to the attention of researchers.

Multiple meetings and discussions among musicologists and music librarians over the years have made it clear that some version of RAMH for the digital age would be of immeasurable use for scholars studying American music.  Yet to date no comprehensive, practical model has been proposed to fill the void.

I have spent the past year compiling data on collections in my state.  Now mid-way through the project, I have so far located well over a hundred collections, sites, or resources not listed in the original RAMH.  While not all of these may have immediate use for scholars, many can identify local individual collectors or enthusiasts with knowledge or materials found in any traditional lbrary/archive collection.  Although I am still collecting data and have not yet finalized the format I will use to publish this data, I believe the experience has given me some insights that could be of use to music librarians and researchers who may be interested in collaborating toward a new on-line RAMH for the next generation of scholars.

This presentation will focus on considerations of social justice, diversity, and inclusion in the analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of music information literacy instruction.  Areas such as access, search and retrieval, discovery, collection development / management, copyright, and information ethics within music libraries and among music collections will be explored within a pedagogical framework through the lens of critical librarianship.  The session aims to raise awareness, spur critical thinking, and foster dialogue among music information workers and others (particularly those who teach) about systemic racism, discrimination, bias, and related issues in information environments, in order to better understand the nuances and contexts of the areas in which they (we) work and the systems of which we are all a part.  In achieving this, librarians and other educators will be better equipped to recognize the injustices and inequalities (as well as the privileges and preferences) within the field(s) and to readily respond to these in the classroom.  Students, in turn, will ultimately benefit from information literacy instruction that addresses a wider range of considerations, questions, and issues that currently dot the landscape of music information work.

Voting is now closed. The Community Choice will be announced shortly.