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Getting the Word Out

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This blog, NLS Music Notes, serves many different purposes, but a general one is getting out the word on the Music Section and the services that it provides.

But there are other avenues for outreach. One is exhibiting at conferences of one sort or another.  Last year Music Section blogger Amanda Smith wrote about her experience at the American Music Therapy Association. See it at:  And earlier in that year, blogger Mary Dell Jenkins went to San Antonio for the Texas Music Educators Association (

Last month, I had the good fortune to staff the Music Section booth at the annual conference of the Music Library Association (MLA), which was held in Cincinnati, Ohio. The MLA conference is a gathering of music librarians, primarily in colleges, universities, schools of music, and conservatories throughout the U.S.


Photo of the Music Section booth at the 2016 MLA conference.
Photo of the Music Section booth at the 2016 MLA conference.



On the whole, none of these librarians are visually impaired, but they serve academic institutions where NLS music patrons study. Without fail, whenever I attend I meet and speak with librarians who are currently supporting one or more such students. Or I will confer with a librarian who has been notified that a blind student will be enrolling at their institution. The questions boil down to: what to do, what do we have, and how do they get it. We are at the conference to provide just such information.







Another conference that the Music Section attended two weeks ago was the biennial National Conference of Librarians Serving Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals, which is sponsored by NLS. It took place in San Francisco, CA.

Every conference has an “update” segment where the section heads and others report to the assembled librarians on developments in their respective area of responsibility. So here is a conference where the attendees already know a lot about the program, but over time new things actually do happen, both small and large.

Photo of one of the plenary sessions in San Francisco.
Photo of one of the plenary sessions in San Francisco.

I spoke about developments in the Music Section, of course. Many of them have actually been covered in blog posts right here at NLS Music Notes, which demonstrates the value of a blog for making things known. But the vast majority of the attending librarians are mostly concerned with literary books, not music.  Each of the librarians has in their state many music patrons, but since the Music Section usually deals with them directly, the librarians are unaware of this activity. And so I held forth.

And this blog was one of the new developments since the previous conference in 2014, which took place just before the blog officially debuted. At about one post per week, we are nearly to 100 posts.

Another development the librarians heard about was the acquisition of titles from the Smithsonian Folkways collection. And it’s not just the audio material we’re making available, as central as that is. We are also recording the liner notes as part of the audiobook. In addition, we are making the liner notes available in braille. A digital braille file is embedded within the audiobook, for those who have the equipment to access it. The brailled notes are also available to any who request them from the Music Section. We think this is an extremely high value-added step since the notes often contain valuable information, and it’s often quite extensive.

We’ll stop here and start on the developments that will be reported on at the next conference in 2018. It’ll be in Nashville, a great music town.


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