Ray Heigemeir shares his reflections of the MLA conference in Orlando, Florida. MLA 2017 in Orlando was my first MLA! I first heard about MLA many years ago from Scott Landvatter at the University of Chicago, where I was a graduate student employee in the Recordings Collection. Fast forward a few years: I found myself finishing library school and starting my first professional library position, with a strong desire to get involved in professional organizations to help support the field where I want to spend my career. I have already been a member of MLA for a few years and have written a couple of book reviews for Notes, but this was the first time I was able to attend the annual meeting. I went with the goal to meet fellow librarians and begin to find my niche for involvement.
The meeting was a great experience all around, but two things really stick in my mind now that I am back in Seattle and have returned to my regular work activities. First, I was very impressed at how everyone welcomed the newcomers. The first-timers’ reception helped to get things off on the right foot. It was great to meet other new members of MLA and to be introduced to other members at the opening reception by my mentor, Leslie Anderson (thanks Leslie!). This was also the first time I was able to meet the people who are in the Pacific Northwest Chapter of MLA (see our group picture). We had a lovely dinner at Maggiano's and I learned what a number of the chapter members do for their institutions. From these three events alone, I felt that I was gaining a firm foundation for meeting more people next year.
The second thing that really remains with me now is the active and productive committee work. I was incredibly impressed with the documents drafted by the Emerging Technologies and Services Committee (ETSC) for music discovery and the tireless energy of the various subcommittees of the Cataloging and Metadata Committees (CMC) in tackling vocabularies, standards, and other cataloging related issues. I look forward to learning from fellow librarians over the next few years as a member of these committees.
By the end of the meeting I felt like I had a much better understanding of what MLA does to serve the professional needs of music librarians, as well as the contributions this organization makes to the broader field of library and information science. Moreover, I accomplished both of the goals I set for myself: I have a clear set of objectives to work on over the next few years with the ETSC and CMC. I am finding my niche! I also now have a few familiar faces to help me hit the ground running for my second MLA.
This was a great learning experience for me and I definitely benefited from the robust first-timer programming. Thanks fellow MLA members!