MLA News

Official News from the Music Library Association

Archival Description of Notated Music Now Available Online

The Music Library Association’s Working Group for Archival Description of Music Materials is pleased to announce Archival Description of Notated Music (ADNM), a new co-publication of the Music Library Association (MLA) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA), available online as a free ebook via SAA’s Bookstore ( and MLA’s Humanities Commons web repository (

In conjunction with the publication of ADNM, the Working Group is also pleased to announce the availability of Guidelines for Archival Description of Notated Music, which are included as an ADNM appendix. In 2019, SAA endorsed the Guidelines, which provide a standard for archival description of notated music and represent the first subject-specific supplement to Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS). The Guidelines are available via MLA’s Humanities Commons repository ( and SAA’s Standards Portal (

ADNM provides guidance intended for a wide readership and is helpful for experienced archivists with limited knowledge of music, music librarians with limited knowledge of archival practice, archival students, and others with responsibility for archival collections with notated music. ADNM includes discussion of fundamental archival principles as applied to collections with notated music, recommendations for descriptive approaches based on the musical and non-musical content of a collection, a glossary, an annotated resource list, numerous examples, and the SAA-endorsed Guidelines.

The Working Group consists of Sofía Becerra-Licha, Maristella Feustle, Vincent J. Novara, Matthew Snyder, Karen Spicher, and co-chairs John Bewley and Elizabeth Surles. The co-chairs wish to thank all of the Working Group members for openly sharing their knowledge and expertise throughout the process of writing the book and Guidelines, MLA and SAA for their generous support, colleagues who commented on the draft in its formative stages, and members of SAA’s Technical Subcommittee on DACS, who assiduously read and re-read drafts of the Guidelines to help shape them into a standard. This cross-organizational collaboration was essential to the successful outcome and will hopefully serve as a model for future DACS supplements.