Another joint meeting of the Music Library Association and the Theatre Library Association this year, with a program rich in interdisciplinary and DEI topics.
In a session titled “Beyond the Land Acknowledgement,” we learned about the contributions Native Americans have made to the literatures libraries collect. Graduates of the notorious boarding schools pursued professional careers as composers and playwrights, using their position as a platform for educating the public about indigenous cultures beyond the movie stereotypes. Today, there’s the Native American Composers Apprentice Program, and alternative venues such as the New Play Exchange (the presenters noted that publishers commonly require a new play be produced and reviewed before they will publish the script — a high entry barrier to dramatists from marginalized groups).
Confirming authors’ self-identifications, to avoid inadvertent outing or inaccuracies, is an issue impacting library catalogs and resources. A project at St. Olaf College — building a local database of historically underrepresented composers — used the following method: (1) consult existing databases (such as the Composer Diversity Database) in which authors have given their permission to be so identified; (2) look for anthologies (ditto); (3) contact the composer (Library of Congress also does direct contacts for its authority records).
A session on research collections touched on equity issues surrounding print vs electronic. Colleagues have found their neurodiverse students asking for print copies, as that was the format they could work with more easily. Other colleagues pointed out that in some regions or literatures (such as Latin America), many publications are not available online. And others reminded us of the economic divide: do our users have the personal devices needed to access our e-resources? I also noticed a number of other libraries reporting initiatives similar to ones we’ve implemented here at ZSR: collaborative or team-based liaison activities; Yale has established an “E-Pool” budget line — if you can show an interdisciplinary impact for the your desiderata item, it will be purchased with this dedicated fund.
Finally, we got a ton of updates on the latest revision of RDA (the cataloging standard), along with the concomitant changes in MLA’s guidance for music — a welcome refresh, as I am just beginning, in the post-pandemic normalization, to find more time to resume contributing original and enhanced music copy to our catalog and OCLC.
4 Comments on ‘Leslie at MLA 2023’
Thank you for this recap! It really underscores how much power libraries have in choices made in our record keeping and the responsibility we bear to get it right. I appreciate it!
Leslie, thanks for sharing! It’s great to see so many interdisciplinary and DEI topics!
Thanks for this report, Leslie! I appreciate your informative posts!
Interesting to hear about equity and diversity resources, especially how the Composer Diversity Database is set up and used. Thanks, Leslie!