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Music librarians know the way to San Jose

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Downtown San Jose

The 82nd annual meeting of the Music Library Association took place in San Jose, February 27-March 3, 2013. Over 400 registrants enjoyed a wide range of educational sessions, workshops, and social events. Jerry McBride, Head of the Stanford Music Library & Archive of Recorded Sound, wrapped up a successful two-year run as president of the organization. In addition, Jerry’s publication, Douglas Moore: a bio-bibliography, was awarded the prestigious Vincent H. Duckles Award for the best book-length bibliography or other research tool in music.

In the opening plenary session, “A view from the top: the 21st century music librarian panel on the future of subject collections”, speakers (including Stanford’s own Mike Keller) challenged attendees to think critically about what we collect and why, and how new technologies are forcing us to adapt to new ways of curating collections and providing guidance to researchers. Other plenary sessions were held on Northern California archives, and on Resource Description and Access (RDA), the cataloguing standard that supersedes the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules.

My own conference experience covered such far-ranging topics as Stanford professor Anna Schultz’s research into Jewish devotional music in western India employing the Indian performance idiom called kirtan; the genesis of the Grateful Dead and the Bay Area music scene in the 1960s, presented by Grateful Dead Archivist Nicholas Meriwether; a scientific analysis of chemical properties of 20th century scores produced by ozalid and diazotype printing processes and the challenges for preservation; an appreciation of recorded sound quality in an age of compressed audio files; a peek into the inner workings of National Public Radio's music library; and the current state of music publishing, rentals, and licensing.

A wonderful reception was held at the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, and featured the handsome new exhibit, “Beethoven's Vienna: Music-Making, Machinery and Technology, the Imperial Capital and its Surroundings, Everyday Life, and Napoleon's Invasions in 1805 and 1809”, as well as viewing of treasures from their collections (Beethoven’s quill pen!  His grocery list! The famous Guevara Lock of his hair!), and demonstration performances on the different period keyboard instruments. The week was blessed with classic California weather, and many long faces could be seen on conferees who had to return to their snow-encrusted home states.

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