Music Library Association / Northern California Chapter
Vol. 12, no. 2 (Spring 1998)

MLA in Boston

Judy Clarence
California State University Hayward

Where, in early February, could you find nearly 600 music librarians all in the same place? At the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, that's where. The hotel was elegant, located near the Boston Commons, and close to everything. The weather was pleasant despite the aging piles of dirty snow on street corners. And the conference itself, the Music Library Association's 67th annual gathering, was as exciting, diverse and instructional as always.

Events began on Wednesday the 11th with tours. Ours was to the studios of public radio station WGBH where we served as the "Classics in the Morning" studio audience for a live performance by pianist Anthony di Bonaventura.

After lunch we toured the sonic editing suite and studios, heard presentations by "Sound & Spirit" host and producer Ellen Kushner, "Art of the States" producer Joel Gordon, and WGBH jazz producer Steve Schwartz. The highlight of the tour of the TV studios was a visit to the set in which Diana Rigg films the intros for the PBS "Mystery!" series.

On Thursday the conference began in earnest. As usual, there were many tempting sessions to attend, often scheduled at the same time; it was difficult to make choices. I was fascinated by the description of the Berklee College of Music Library's services "for musicians on the cutting edge" given by librarian Gary Haggerty. They provide classroom labs which include synthesizers, sound design equipment, MIDI stations, and a music writing lab with 8-track digital recorders, etc., for their 200 film scoring majors.

The Reference Performance Subcommittee offered a session on "Answering Reference Questions: Everything You Always Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask", moderated by Allie Wise Goudy (Western Illinois University). Members of the subcommittee had gathered together real live reference questions, and tossed them out to the audience for general discussion and brainstorming about how to answer them. Then they responded telling us about the tools they'd actually used to answer the questions. An extremely informative session.

The Electronic Reference Services Subcommittee followed with presentations on Musica International (an very useful choral music database available via the Internet) and RISM Series A/II which is available on CD-Rom (minus scoring, provenance, and the thematic catalog feature) and on the Internet. Other programs included sessions on bibliographic access to music information, music publishers and music librarians, and taming technostress.

The conference was well rounded out by lively poster sessions, a bustling exhibit hall (the crowds were pleasantly pushy and intense around a vendor who was giving away CDs!), committee and roundtable sessions, users group gatherings, and enjoyable receptions and banquets.

Especially exciting was the Local Arrangement Reception Friday night at the grand old Boston Public Library, and the banquet Saturday with entertainment by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers with whom many a giddy and agile music librarian joined forces to explore dances of the Gay Nineties and Roaring Twenties far into the night.

Now plans are well underway for the 68th conference, to be held early next spring in Los Angeles. Closer to home, so maybe most of us MLA/NCC folks will be able to attend.

MLA / NCC Meeting

Friday, May 29
10 am - 3 p.m.
University of California, Berkeley

The meeting will be held in Elkus Hall in the Music Building (Morrison Hall). We will gather at 10:00 A.M. for refreshments. The demonstration of the Digital Music Library will begin at 10:30. In the afternoon we will reconvene at Elkus Hall for a demonstration of the California Sheet Music project. Mary Kay Duggan will show us the many wonders of the projects including information about printers, artwork, and dance included in the database.

Special Meeting

MLA Vice President / President-Elect Paula Matthews will be in San Francisco for an Informal Town meeting with the Northern California Chapter of MLA. The Town Meeting will be held May 1, 3:00-5:00 at the San Francisco Public Library, Main Library, Civic Center, Latino Hispanic Community Meeting Room (Lower Level). Interested members are also welcome to join Paula for dinner immediately following the meeting.

Minutes of the Business meeting, October 7, 1997

Prepared by Susan Bogas
Secretary / Treasurer
St. Mary's College

Chair Sally Berkowitz opened the meeting by asking for announcements and approval of the minutes of the Spring 1997 meeting.

Judy Tsou announced that the International Association of Music Libraries (IAML) will hold their 2002 meeting in Berkeley from August 11-16. Berkeley was deemed a good site for the meeting in part because of the various levels of housing available, ranging from the Claremont Hotel to dormitories. Planning is now beginning for this event. Meetings will be held on the U.C. Berkeley campus in Morrison and Hertz Hall. Usually 200-250 people attend (mostly European) and ideas for afternoon tours are welcome.

Steve Davison and John Thornburg of UCLA were visiting from MLA/SCC branch and announced that the planning for the MLA 1999 meeting in Los Angeles was underway. It will be held at the Biltmore Hotel downtown and tour ideas include the music library of film studios and the new Getty Museum.

A round robin followed in which Kirsten Tanaka announced that PALM (Performing Arts Library and Museum) was entering into a three year relationship with San Francisco State University.

Judy Clarence said she was looking for ideas for training students to work in libraries. The Paul Robeson centennial will be April 19.

Mimi Tashiro announced that the MLA 1998 meeting would be held February 9-15 in Boston and that the Freeman travel grant would enable three people to attend.

Judy Tsou announced that the Freeman Travel Fund got twice as many applicants this year as last. Information about the fund is on our web site and we hope to get it on the MLA web site soon.

The meeting concluded with thanks to Sally Berkowitz for hosting the meeting at the De Bellis Collection, San Francisco State University and for arranging the morning concert & lecture by John Khouri on the newly restored Clementi forte piano.

MLA/NCC Members at the 1998 MLA meetings

At the Archives Roundtable, Mary Kay Duggan presented "A Virtual Library of Sheet Music (19th Century California) and Judy Tsou presented "Desperately Seeking Archives: The IAML Working Group on the Registration of Music Archives." Mary Kay Duggan also presented at the Bibliography Roundtable.

Judy Clarence along with Richard Apple presented "Does the Library Have Anything by Show Pan"?: Training Non-Musician Student Assistants to Give Good Service in a Music / Media Library" at the Education Committee Poster Session.


Michael Colby's article "Music Periodical Indexing in General Databases" appeared in Notes Vol. 54, No. 1 (September 1997).

Jason Gibbs' article "Tradition and Renovation in Early Vietnamese Popular Song: appeared in Nhac Viet: The Journal of Vietnamese Music Vol. 6 (Fall 1997).

John Emerson's (UC Berkeley, retired) essay "Madame Inez Fabbri, Prima Donna Assoluta, and the Performance of Opera in San Francisco During the 1870s" was published in the monograph: Music in Performance and Society: Essays in Honor of Roland Jackson., ed . by Malcom Cole and John Koegel. (Harmonie Park Press, 1997).

MLA 1999 Meetings Online

There is already a website for the 68th annual meetings of the Music Library Association in Los Angeles in March 1999.

The Fall 1997 Joint Meeting as Seen from the South

In the March 1998 issue of the MLA/SCC chapter newsletter, Don Brown reports on our joint October 17, 1997 meeting. He had favorable reviews of his tours of the DeBellis Collection, and of the San Francisco Public Library, but was especially effusive in his praise of John Khouri's performance. His only negative note was a decided pan of the San Francisco Opera's performance of Wagner's Flying Dutchman, whose visuals and costumes did not live up to the hefty ticket price.

This issue of the newsletter has been "webisized" by Michael Colby.
Please send him any comments (compliments are preferred).