MLA Archivist Annual Report 2018

submitted by Melissa E. Wertheimer

List of Previous Goals and Progress Made

During FY2018 my activities as MLA Archivist centered around collection stewardship, collection development, collection advocacy and visibility, reference, and liaising between the Curator of Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) at the University of Maryland and other institutions and MLA officers. 

  • Collection Stewardship

    • I recommended two collections within the MLA Archives for deaccession that were not institutional records, therefore outside refined collection scope: Dena J. Epstein Papers and Resources of American Music History. These are now independent collections open for research at SCPA.
    • I also performed extensive re-appraisal of MLA records accessioned after 1982 according to the 2016 Revised Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. Over 10 linear of feet of financial records were deaccessioned, including tax records, monthly bank statements, and cancelled checks. This time-consuming but important project will be ongoing because of the large amount of records that should not be kept but were sent prior to the schedule’s adoption.
    • SCPA Curator Vin Novara is in the process of coordinating with the University of Maryland Electronic Records Archivist to process MLA’s electronic records, which are actively accessioned and stored.
  • Collection Development
    • I facilitated physical and electronic records transfers of board and officer records, advised electronic file formats, and directed officers and board members to the 2016 Revised Records Retention and Disposition Schedule.
    • I performed an inventory of MLA’s electronic and print publications for complete representation in the collection. All gaps in titles were posted to MLA-L. Members and the MLA Business Office have donated copies of Notes, Music Cataloguing Bulletin, Basic Manual Series, and the Index and Bibliography Series. Gaps do remain with these and other titles and triplicate-plus copies of MLA publications were deaccessioned. I also responded to inquiries for MLA documents deaccessioned from other institutions in order to only expand areas of the collection that need historic gaps filled. I am coordinating records transfers between the Library of Congress Music Division and SCPA to address collection scope.
    • A great deal was accomplished regarding chapter archives repositories this fiscal year. I selected and oversaw final chapter records transfers from SCPA to TMLA, NYSO, PNW, SE, MW, and CA repositories. I worked with the University of Denver/MP-MLA members to establish the official repository for MP-MLA chapter records at the University of Denver; all records transferred from UMD to Denver. I worked with Biola University and CA MLA members to permanently transfer ownership of the California Chapter records to UCLA. I continued to liaise with NEMLA to unite separated chapter records between the Boston Public Library and SCPA with a re-started search for a regional repository.
  • Collection Advocacy and Visibility
    • I completed the official collection-level finding aid for the MLA Archives and finding aids for Record Group 4 (Oral Histories) and Record Group 6 (NOTES). I shared links to the PDFs of these documents on SCPA’s website with members over MLA-L and in the MLA Newsletter.
    • I discussed MLA and the MLA Archives at two conferences. In October 2017, I gave a presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) in Buffalo, NY, “Inheriting Records Management  Challenges of Historic Organizations” about the unique challenges of the MLA Archivist position and collection in a larger session, “Real World Reinvention and Renewal.” At MLA Portland, I coordinated a 50 min. session, “Our MLA Archives: Focusing on Visibility and Access,” to engage the membership with presidential and chapter records and unveil finding aids that had been disseminated via MLA L. Chapter participants in the presentation were from the SE, CA, and MW chapters. The presentation was tweeted 4 times and feedback from members was that it should have been a plenary because of the quality of information. This presentation is another key step to accomplish the ongoing goal of collection visibility and collaboration among chapter archives.
    • I was also invited to serve in an ex officio capacity on MLA’s Preservation and Oral History Committees, which sets a positive precedent for future MLA Archivists and raises awareness of the position and collection within MLA.
    • I happily answered research requests from MLA board members, special officers, and members throughout the year and also referred questions to the SCPA Curator. Send me yours at

List of Future Goals

  • Keep apprised of SCPA’s progress on implementation of the electronic records program
  • Continue to update the MLA Archives work space and communicate with chapters on new developments
  • Continue to issue a call for submissions to the MLA Archives and serve as official contact to SCPA Curator
  • Continue work on record group finding aids and publicize availability on MLA-L, in the Newsletter, and on the MLA Archives webpage
  • Work with Web Manager on the MLA Archives webpage with information about the collection, including sample images of records
  • Continue to be an ambassador for the collection and a reference for MLA members about MLA history
  • Sandy Rodriguez’s work on an MLA Archivist Handbook is on hold; possibly take on the remainder of this project FY2019
    • These goals reflect the MLA Strategic Plan goals of Organizational Excellence, Advocacy, and Value of the Profession