MLA Archivist Annual Report 2020

submitted by Melissa Wertheimer

List of Previous Goals and Progress Made

  • Keep apprised of UMD’s Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) progress on implementation of the electronic records program: Achieved.
    • In September 2020, I completed a heavily revised and updated the Guidelines for Transfer document to reflect new policies at the University of Maryland regarding electronic records transfers and file formats. I have also formalized the procedure for the transfer of electronic records to include both the Acting Curator of SCPA and the UMD Electronic Records Archivist, which is also reflected in the revised document. The 2020 Guidelines For Transfer is available at: guidelinesfortransfer_20.pdf. I sent this document to the MLA Board and MLA-L.
  • Make the MLA Archives central to planning for the 90th anniversary meeting in 2021: Achieved.
    • I proposed a plenary session for the 2021 conference, which was accepted. The panel I put together is called “Stories, Sounds, and Snapshots: Institutional memories and the archives that keep them.” My presentation on the panel will feature the MLA Archives for members old and new to experience the history of the organization through oral history recordings straight from the archives, important moments marked by documents, and commissioned music for past anniversaries. My goal is for MLA members to come away from this plenary with a renewed sense of pride and knowledge of their organization. TLA attendees will also learn about the context of MLA’s shared role in the greater performing arts library world through this communal sharing of MLA’s history told in the archives. Additional panelists discussing institutional archives include Carolyn Friedrich (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra) and Andy Leach (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives).
  • Goal: Continue to issue calls for submissions to the MLA Archives and serve as official contact to SCPA Curator: Achieved.
  • Goal: Continue to be an ambassador for the collection and a reference for MLA members about MLA history: Achieved.
    • Answered 13 reference/research inquiries this fiscal year and referred to SCPA as necessary
  • Goal: Continue to advise as requested from the chairs of the MLA Preservation and Oral History committees: Achieved.
  • Goal: Continue to advise MLA Board and Officers on best archival practices, especially with electronic records created at conferences: Achieved.

List of Future Goals

This is my final annual report as MLA Archivist. It has been my true privilege to serve the organization in this capacity for the past four years. I thank all Board members, MLA members, officers, editors, and colleagues who have contributed to the success of my tenure through their encouragement, expertise, support, and engagement. I hope to always be a reference to the MLA membership about the MLA Archives, MLA history, and performing arts archives for years to come.

  • Goal: to help the newly selected MLA Archivist onboard smoothly, and share institutional knowledge and procedures unique to the position and the records under the position’s care. (Organizational Excellence)
  • Goal: Continue to be an ambassador for the collection and a reference for MLA members about MLA history (Organizational Excellence, Advocacy, and Value of the Profession)