Best of Chapters 2023

conference presenter showing PowerPoint slides
Rachel Scott describes the textbook affordability initiative at Illinois State University. Photo credit: Victoria Peters.

Each year the Best of Chapters committee accepts the nomination of one session presentation from each local MLA chapter. The three committee members evaluate the sessions separately and rate them based on a variety of factors: relevance of the topic to current issues in music librarianship, originality and innovation, organization and significance, research quality, and potential appeal to a national-level audience. The rankings from each member are combined to determine the two highest-ranked sessions that will be presented at the next national MLA meeting. 

At the 2023 annual conference in St.Louis, MO, the winning presentation was “Supporting Textbook Affordability via Music Collection Development,” presented by Anne Shelley, Scholarly Communication Librarian/Music Librarian, and Rachel Scott, Associate Dean for Information Assets at Illinois State University. They presented an overview of a textbook affordability initiative where a team of librarians worked to identify and license library eBooks and conducted focus groups and surveys with participating students and faculty to gain insight into their experiences, and to investigate the impact of cost-free resources on student success. Shelley and Scott found that approximately one-third of all assigned texts at Illinois State University were available for the library to license, and library provision of these texts was very welcome to most student and faculty participants. To conclude their presentation, they discussed new funding opportunities for textbook purchasing, and the types of collaboration needed across library departments in order for the initiative to succeed as it approaches its sixth semester.

conference presenter showing PowerPoint slides
Blaine Brubaker describes music accessibility at the MLA conference. Photo credit: Victoria Peters.

The runner-up presentation from the University of North Texas Music Library, “Increasing Music Accessibility for Patrons with Print Disabilities,” was presented by Kristin Wolski, Music Information Literacy and Outreach Librarian, Blaine Brubaker, Music Cataloging and Metadata Librarian, and Sabino Fernandez, Manager of Music Processing. They provided an overview of equipment and outlined the process of setting up an accessibility workstation for students with print disabilities. The presenters discussed the usefulness and importance of technologies and software such as the GOODFEEL suite and braille displays within a music library, as well as the difficulties involved with promoting these materials to underrepresented groups and receiving feedback.