Music Library Association

Feb. 8, - Feb. 11, 2011
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Music Library Association
Annual Meeting Program Proposal and Business Meeting Requests
80th Annual Meeting
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
9–12 February 2011

Program Theme: Born Digital: A New Frontier for Music Libraries

The 2011 MLA Annual Meeting will be held February 9-12 in Philadelphia. Program proposals will be accepted through June 4. However, if you are considering inviting an outside speaker(s) and requesting honoraria please contact me by May 14.

Please let me introduce the 2011 Program Committee for the Philadelphia Conference. As Chair I'm working with Morris Levy, Gerry Szymanski, Beth Iseminger, and Zoe Rath. Ex officio members of the Committee are Diane Steinhaus, Bonna Boettcher, Laura Gayle Green, Jenn Riley, Dick Griscom, and Abby Cross.

We've picked a theme for next year's program: Born Digital: A New Frontier for Music Libraries. This topic impacts every type of music library and every library task from selection to access to instruction to preservation. Recent discussions on MLA-L and at the Hot Topics Session in San Diego reflect that this is on many of our minds. The theme includes more than the strict definition of media created digitally. For example, many recordings previously released on CD are now only available as downloads (on Arhoolie for instance).

New materials only available in digital formats are also included along with books with online-only listening or web content. These materials require different discovery tools for librarians and patrons alike, different methods of acquisition, cataloging, distribution/circulation, and bring new twists on concerns about fair use, licensing, and use for course reserves.


  • How do we preserve and archive these materials?
  • How do we handle digital download-only recordings?
  • How do buy them, provide access to the files, put them on course reserve, preserve them, and what are the copyright implications?

A growing number of recordings in a variety of styles fall into this group. They include the soundtrack to the movie Up!, the Haiti charity album (Hope for Haiti Now), releases by the Chicago Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra, and individual artists such as Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and DJ Mark Farina.
Many public libraries use OverDrive to provide files to patrons that "expire" after the "loan period" is over.


  • What musical content is included in OverDrive?
  • Would it also be an option for academic and/or conservatory libraries?
  • What role do licensed streaming services such as Naxos and the Alexander Street Press products play?
  • Is it time to propose a repository similar to JSTOR, Portico, or LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe)?
  • Should we work with associations like IODA (Independent Online Distribution Alliance)?
  • What can we learn from MLA's Digital Audio Task Force?
  • Can sister organizations (like ARSC) provide guidance?

Digital formats go beyond recordings, including ebooks and other “print” files.


  • While many ETDs (Electronic Theses and Dissertations) are available in print, buying them in paper misses the point of the students who created them to be used as a file. In addition to e-books, how do we provide ETDs as files?
  • What are the implications for archival collections?
  • How do we archive composers' manuscripts, drafts, and sketches when they exist as Finale or Sibelius files?
  • What do we do if a local composer drops off his computers as his papers, like novelist Salman Rushdie did at Emory University?

Another issue brought up at the Hot Topics session at San Diego was the idea of our own schools' recordings of recitals and concerts.


  • What are the current trends or best practices in this area?
  • What are solutions for offering a gateway for our patrons to the wide array of digital content?

How can we package our digital content from a variety of sources to help our patrons?


  • Do we use our catalog overlays (Encore or AquaBrowser, for example) or our legacy catalogs or software like CONTENTdm?
  • What role can institutional repositories play (such as Fedora Commons)?
  • Can the Variations Project from Indiana University help?
  • Do we all need even more servers? (Or just more lawyers?)

A conference theme is something new for MLA, but we think it will bring a timely and informative focus to our conference. One of our goals in guiding the program with a timely focus is that it will help you in your decision about coming to MLA next year and help your administration in their decision to fund you (despite the economy).

As broad as this theme is, we understand that every group in MLA may not be able or interested in giving a program that fits in with this topic. However, please understand that the theme is one of the criteria we will use when evaluating program proposals, and it may be used to differentiate between two equally excellent proposals.

Laurie Sampsel

Chair, MLA Program Committee 2011
Waltz Music Library
University of Colorado at Boulder