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

MLA Conference Videos

The Music Library Association records a portion of its conference programming. Access to the video archive costs $10.00 and may be purchased using the link below. After six months, the content is made available open access.

Please note that two sessions are already available open access: Diversity and Inclusion through the Lens of Critical Librarianship and the MLA Business Meeting 2018.

Cataloging and Metadata Town Hall

This session features updates and special topics in music cataloging and metadata as well as an open discussion period; it is a forum for sharing information on important topics that do not each require their own program sessions. Speakers will provide up-to-date information on changes to RDA (as well as LC-PCC Policy Statements and MLA Best Practices), LCGFT, LCMPT, MARC, and MDR (Music Discovery Requirements). Special topics for discussion this year include the newly published version of the IFLA LRM (Library Reference Model), the Library of Congress pilot of BIBFRAME 2.0, and the latest work on the PMO (Performed Music Ontology) as part of the LD4P (Linked Data for Production) project. This session is designated in the MLA Convention Manual.

Tracey Snyder, Cornell University; Mary Huismann, St. Olaf College; Casey Mullin, Western Washington University; James Soe Nyun, University of California, San Diego; Damian Iseminger, Library of Congress; Kathy Glennan, University of Maryland, College Park; Nancy Lorimer, Stanford University; Nara Newcomer, University of Missouri–Kansas City; Kimmy Szeto, Baruch College, City University of New York

Instruction Showcase: Tools and Strategies for Reenergizing your Teaching

This fast-paced session will feature a range of techniques, tools, and tips for trying something new in your library instruction. Six “lightning round” presentations will highlight innovative pedagogical strategies used by MLA members, including classroom activities and technologies scalable for different institution types and sizes. Attendees will leave with instruction ideas which they can immediately apply to their teaching to improve student engagement.

Ellwood Colahan, University of Denver, Beth Fleming, Oklahoma City University, Grace Haynes, Michigan State University, Misti Shaw, Jessica Abbazio, and Olivia Wikle, Indiana University, Gregory Sigman, The New School, Z. Sylvia Yang, DePauw University

“Squiggly lines:” information literacy, music librarian/performers, and practicing what we preach

Many music librarians participate in professional and amateur music making. We face similar performance practice/interpretive issues as do our music library users. This panel discussion focuses on application of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy to performance practice in experimental music. Four music librarians with significant academic and applied expertise in performing experimental music describe their individual and collective processes in developing a performance of one page from Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise, a graphic score published in 1967.

Panelists will describe processes, resources, challenges and discoveries, with special consideration for the analogous experiences of music library users. The session includes a 10 minute live quartet performance of the page from Treatise.

Tom Bickley, California State University East Bay; Anne Rhodes, Yale University; Jonathan Manton, Yale University; Chris Schiff, Bates College

Integrating Digital Humanities Resources into the (Re)Search Process

Music Librarians are engaging with the Digital Humanities (DH) in a number of ways, including creating projects related to research or music library collections, working with other scholars, and embedding DH in instruction. The DH have produced a wealth of valuable projects and data that are vital resources. Yet, other than a Google search, how does one find these projects? While some universities and libraries provide LibGuides or other catalogs of digital resources and some have been cataloged in World Cat (e.g., Music in Gotham), the growing body of DH projects is difficult to navigate, particularly for those not intentionally seeking DH resources. This presentation will explore how we, as music librarians, can connect our patrons (locally and virtually) with DH resources and how the DH can enhance our local collections and digital presence. As many of us deal with shrinking budgets, digital resources allow us connect scholars and patrons with materials unavailable locally as well as the opportunity to share unique collections digitally with the world. Drawing upon research and my experience on the advisory board of the Musical Festival Database, I will illustrate current practices of promoting or searching for digital projects (including those listed above), explore ways in which music librarians can help others locate these resources, and consider talking points for ways to improve upon current practices.

Jennifer Oates, Queens College, CUNY

Finding your way forward with fair use: introducing new fair use resources for MLA

Fair use is still a very complicated issue in music. While some court cases involving music and fair use have helped establish clear guidelines around parody (Campbell v. Acuff-Rose, Inc), other cases have severely limited how musicians and public understand fair use (Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films). As librarians are increasingly asked to provide support to a diverse group of faculty, students, and community members about fair use, the lack of cohesion in the community we serve and conflicting court rulings have made this task difficult. In addition, there is often a lack of case law to guide music librarians and music library patrons on issues encountered on a day-to-day basis, such as student performance, media and score preservation, photocopying of scores, and streaming rights for audio and video. Many professional communities now have best practices to help guide their thinking about fair use. These best practices have been developed by engaging with communities of practice around how they think fair use can and should benefit their communities. Current best practices guides exist for Academic Librarians, Dance Collections, Visual Art, Poetry, Online Video, Online Courses, and Documentary Film. As of now, there is no guide for music: because the music community consists of diverse, and sometimes competing, stakeholders, it is challenging to identify areas of community consensus that the methodology to develop best practices requires. Existing court splits, listserv discussions, and even twitter can provide insight into areas where the music community has failed to develop cohesion around fair use. In May 2015, CLIR released the ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation edited by Sam Brylawski, Maya Lerman, Robin Pike, Kathlin Smith. Appendix A of this document is a guide to fair use for music collections by Peter Jaszi and Brandon Butler, facilitated by the Best Practices in Fair Use Task Force of MLA. This document is good starting point for fair use and music, but it only tells part of the story for music libraries. In addition to being stewards of collections, we work with music makers, music users, and music researchers, among others. How do we create a resource that can bolster all of their needs relating to fair use? This session will present a new web resource developed by the Best Practices in Fair Use task force to help the MLA community gain confidence in supporting fair use questions from all members of their community. This web resource will draw from existing documents of best practice to identify similar principles and translate them into music use cases. The document is currently in production and is scheduled to pass both external legal review and board approval before the 2018 meeting. This session will build upon earlier sessions discussing fair use at MLA and provide members with a solid foundation in addressing fair use questions.

Tammy Ravas, University of Montana; Kathleen DeLaurenti, The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, Kyra Folk-Farber, University of California, Santa Barbara, Kyle Shockey

Strategies for Archival Description of Music Scores: Unveiling the New MLA Supplement to DACS

The Working Group’s DACS supplement provides guidance to music archivists and librarians in applying a descriptive standard developed for general archival collections to music collections. In the session, Working Group members will explain the rationale behind the Group’s charge, their approach to creating the supplement, and how it will benefit both music librarians and archivists. The Music Library Association’s Working Group for Archival Description of Music Materials has developed a supplement that bridges the descriptive gap between Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) and the specific needs of music materials. DACS is the content standard used by archivists in the United States to describe archival collections and thereby provide access to them. However, DACS does not give specific instructions regarding description of archival notated music.sts with responsibility for archival collections. Session attendees will learn how to make decisions about archival description of music scores and how different levels and types of archival description reflect these decisions.

Elizabeth Surles, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University; Matthew Snyder, The New York Public Library; John Bewley, The State University of New York, University at Buffalo; Karen Spicher, Yale University; Maristella Feustle, University of North Texas; Sofía Becerra-Licha, Berklee College of Music

What I learned in Library School and Real Life: Advice for Students and New Professionals

A panel of current graduate students in library school as well as music librarians at the start of their careers will discuss their experiences as students and new professionals. They will review the curriculum of courses they took in school and compare that with MLA’s Core Competencies for Music Librarians. In addition, they will address a number of related topics, including coursework that was particularly helpful, acquiring “on the job” experience as a student, finding internships, distance education, networking, and mentoring. The new professionals will also discuss their experiences with their first jobs and describe areas of specialization or skills that they have found particularly valuable. We anticipate this session will be helpful both to people pursuing a career in music librarianship as well as librarians involved in training them. The panel will consist of five people who have enrolled in or graduated from several different library schools so that an array of perspectives and experiences can be offered. Questions will be formulated by the panelists in consultation with the Music Librarianship Educators Interest Group and the Career and Services Committee. We also plan to leave sufficient time for input from those attending the session, whether in person or online.

Jessica Abbazio, Indiana University; Avery Boddie, University of Maryland; Z. Sylvia Yang, DePauw University; Kate Lambaria, University of Nevada Las Vegas; Allison McClanahan, Indiana University; Timothy Sestrick, West Chester University; Victoria Peters, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

A Look At Early Film Music: From Max Steiner to Bernard Herrmann

Over a 41-year career as a film curator at Brigham Young University, James D’Arc was instrumental in acquiring fascinating film collections for the Harold B. Lee Library. Over his career, he helped acquire the collections of Max Steiner, Hugo Friedhofer, Cecil B. DeMille, Howard Hawks, and Jimmy Stewart. D’Arc will speak about these collections, his involvement in acquiring them, and the BYU Film Music Archives series of Max Steiner studio recordings.

Two presentations about current research in film music will complement D’Arc’s presentation. Jeff Lyon of Brigham Young University will present on his current research in creating a thematic catalog through a corpus study of themes composed by Max Steiner. Lyon’s research will look at the greater than 300 film scores composed by Steiner. Joshua Henry of Westminster Choir College will present on the dichotomy between film music and concert music of Aaron Copland and Bernard Herrmann.

James D’Arc and Jeff Lyon, Brigham Young University; Joshua Henry, Westminster Choir College

Changes in Latitude: Exploring Career Transitions from Public to University Libraries (and Vice Versa)

This session will take the form of short presentations and/or a panel discussion and will delve into the topic of job transitions between academic and public libraries (or special libraries). We plan to explore the topic of job switches going in any direction, and the panel will discuss similarities in the jobs, differences in the jobs, challenges, myths, etc.

Speakers include Alyssa Resnick, who is on the MLA Public Libraries Committee and recently changed jobs from a public library administrator position to a head academic librarian position, and can give a management perspective; Elizabeth Cribbs, who switched from an academic technical services position to a public libraries technical services position, and can also give a section-level management perspective. Finally, Marci Cohen, who switched from being a multimedia librarian in a public library to a university library public services/reference positions and who had a career in music journalism before her tenure as a music librarian. We plan to allow time for each speaker to speak about their experiences, while reserving time from audience members for Q&As.

Elizabeth Hille Cribbs, Kansas City Public Library; Alyssa G. Resnick, University of Southern California; Marci Cohen, Boston University; Laurie Bailey, San Diego Public Library

New Paradigms for Space Utilization in Music Libraries

This session is designed to give an overview of how the availability of digital and electronic resources, as well as new methods of teaching music to both undergraduate and graduate students, affects space planning in music libraries. After an introduction, three speakers will address these issues as they pertain to different kinds of libraries and different kinds of spaces.

Jim Cassaro, University of Pittsburgh; Ruthann McTyre, Yale University; Stephanie Bonjack, University of Colorado, Boulder; Deborah Campana, Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Diversity & Inclusion through the Lens of Critical Librarianship

Critical librarianship (CritLib) impacts more than information literacy instruction; it extends to a multitude of areas that intersect with LIS, including social justice, queer studies and critical race theory. Using the framework of critical librarianship, this townhall/panel session will focus on the intersectionality and the institutional power dynamic(s) of diversity and inclusion in MLA and the field of music LIS.

This session aims to provide an ideal and safe space in which to discuss pertinent questions and/or professional tandems in our ever-changing field, such as:

  1. In what ways do diversity and inclusion impact librarian identity?
  2. How do we define, or build consensus around conversations of inclusion and scholarship?
  3. Do issues of double consciousness persist for diverse colleagues within our field?
  4. How do conversations about diversity and inclusion impact librarians objectives for roles such as instruction and technical services?
  5. How do discussions of CritLib intersect with the mission and current strategic plan of MLA and the charges of its Committees?

Joy M. Doan, Northwestern University; Susannah Cleveland, Bowling Green State University; Ann Shaffer, University of Oregon; Annie Downey, Reed College; Michael Colby, University of California, Davis

Critical Information Literacy: An Introduction and Conversation

Instruction is one aspect of librarianship in which critical practices have found an active cohort of practitioners. As an important component of critical librarianship, critical information literacy (CIL) expands our understanding of information literacy by acknowledging the power dynamics underlying the creation and dissemination of information.

Drawing on theories of critical literacy and critical pedagogy, CIL offers teaching librarians a way to move beyond traditional concepts of information literacy as training in research competencies. Many conversations on CIL take place virtually, through sites such as critlib.org,but a growing body of published literature allows for wider engagement with critical information literacy in practice.

Building on the critical librarianship panel session, Annie Downey (Reed College), author of “Critical Information Literacy: Foundations, Inspirations, and Ideas” (2016) will provide an overview of CIL concepts that focus on theory, action, and reflection. Erin Conor, will discuss how she has incorporated CIL into her music library instruction. Attendees will gain insight into the significance of this importance new movement in information literacy and will leave with practical ideas for implementing CIL in music classes at their own institutions. There will be time for questions, conversation, and discussion with the session attendees.

Annie Downey, Reed College; Erin Conor, University of Washington; Andi Beckendorf, Luther College

Cascadia Harmonizing: Local and Regional Music in Special Collections of the Pacific Northwest

While many may associate the Pacific Northwest with rugged natural scenery, strong coffee, or hipster quirk, it has supported a variety of vibrant musical communities over the past 150 years. The history of this rich musical life can be traced through material preserved in special collections focusing on Pacific Northwestern music of many genres.

The speakers in this session will highlight three diverse special collections that focus on music and musicians of the Pacific Northwest: the Oregon-centric songs within the Historic Sheet Music Collection at the University of Oregon; the University of Washington’s collection of local music recordings spanning popular, classical, and jazz performances; and the newly-acquired papers of Canadian composer Hubert Klyne Headley (1906-1996) at the Canadian Music Centre in Vancouver, BC. In addition to showcasing these collections, the speakers will also address issues and challenges with preservation, access, and user engagement with these collections.


Ann Shaffer, University of Oregon; John Vallier, University of Washington; Stefan Hintersteininger, Canadian Music Centre (Vancouver)

Cataloging, Preservation, and Discovery of Radio Content in Music Libraries and Archives

Music and broadcasting, though situated in different disciplines, are closely interrelated, and scholars working in both fields may find a number of new and undiscovered insights working together. Music libraries and archives may include performances also heard on radio, while radio archives are similarly full of music recordings, and both archives often contain complementary sets of paper documentation sound archive may lack. The session will address three major topics: 1) the challenges of effectively bringing out the “radio-ness” of musical recordings in library and archival cataloging, 2) preserving those recordings across multiple, endangered audio formats, and 3) facilitating researcher discoverability of/access to relevant recordings across diverse and geographically scattered archives. The Radio Preservation Task Force was created in 2014 as a result of the Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan to identify and save endangered collections, develop an online inventory of extant radio archival collections, and to support collaboration between faculty researchers and archivists, and to act as a clearinghouse to encourage the academic study of the cultural history of radio. Shawn VanCour will talk about radio collections as music archives, discussing the RPTF’s larger goals and current initiatives, highlighting significant musical holdings of some of its member institutions, and addressing the challenges of making this content discoverable and accessible for educational use. Thom Pease will explore traditional music cataloging approaches and other non-music cataloging approaches as they pertain to radio content, and envision ways of making visible the broadcasting qualities of musical materials in our catalogs. He will relay his vision of how radio programs could be found in a library catalog, and talk about ways to visualize radio data in a library discovery system. Maristella Feustle will speak about her experience as a music researcher in radio archives. She will speak about her research at the Library of Congress and the National Archives in their Voice of America materials pertaining to radio announcer Willis Conover. Feustle will highlight her experience in building a catalog of what still exists, and where, of Conover’s VOA-related materials from 1955-1996, with an emphasis on locating interviews with jazz musicians, and unreleased live and studio recordings. Feustle will highlight the perils, pitfalls, serendipitous turns, and the patience that it takes to navigate a medium and a subject without rigid curricular boundaries and ephemeral documentation.

Thomas Pease, an experienced cataloger of radio content for close to twenty years, will present on the intricacies of radio cataloging, both at the station level, the network level, and in a recorded sound archive. He will explore the weaknesses of traditional music cataloging approaches as they pertain to radio content, and propose best practices to add information in the areas of descriptive and technical metadata, authorized access points, and subject headings/genre-form terms, as well as work and expression data in the MARC format. He will touch on the business and distribution elements of radio (particularly public radio), explain the forms and formats of recorded radio, and how they can be brought out in cataloging; as well as give the contexts of how some great radio collections have survived like NBC, WOR, Voice of America, AFRTS, NPR, and others. Musical content on air from various genres will be highlighted, especially to show the challenges of titling, segmentation, and content/contributor identification.

Maristella Feustle is a dedicated jazz researcher as well as a devoted music archivist, and will speak about her experience as a music researcher in radio archives. She will speak about her research at the Library of Congress and the National Archives in their Voice of America materials pertaining to radio announcer Willis Conover. Feustle will highlight her experience in building a catalog of what still exists, and where, of Conover’s VOA-related materials from 1955-1996, with an emphasis on locating interviews with jazz musicians, and unreleased live and studio recordings. These searches tie back to her institution’s (the University of North Texas) own rich collection of Conover-related material. Feustle will highlight the perils, pitfalls, serendipitous turns, and the patience that it takes to navigate a medium and a subject without rigid curricular boundaries and ephemeral documentation.

Thomas Pease, Library of Congress; Shawn Vancour, University of California-Los Angeles; Maristella Feustle, University of North Texas

The FUTURE Is NOW! Preparing for and Learning from Large-Scale Media Preservation

Indiana University has been at the forefront of large-scale media preservation since the launch of the Sound Directions: Best Practices for Audio Preservation project in 2005. The subsequent Media Preservation Survey Report (2009) and formation of the Media Preservation Initiative Task Force (2010) have culminated in the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative. MDPI, now in its second year*, intends to digitize and preserve 250,000 of Indiana University’s most volatile media resources by the university’s bicentennial in 2020. What are the implications of such a project on collection management and workflows? What must an institution consider before moving forward with this work? How do the policies and practices of the past continue to impact the present? Sharing examples of the decisions made, projects undertaken, and lessons learned, this panel will provide details about the IU music library’s participation in the university-wide initiative and its development, give an overview of the MDPI lifecycle, demonstrate the tools being used to gather and present content and metadata, and discuss the potential impacts of digitization at scale on cataloging and collection management.

Michelle Hahn, Indiana University; Phil Ponella, Indiana University; Tony Tadey, Indiana University

MLA Business Meeting 2018