Coral Travel Grant Reflection

Image of Vivian Tompkins
Vivian Tompkins, 2018 Coral Travel Grant recipient

The Lenore F. Coral Travel Grant provided support that was central to my growth as a student and aspiring music librarian. I applied for the 2018 grant after I had attended my first IAML Congress in Riga, Latvia, the previous year. That first conference was a formative experience and helped me to realize that music librarianship was the right field for me; however, I was not a member of MLA or IAML at the time that I attended, and I did not know when or if I would be able to attend an event like that again. Fortunately, one of my music librarian mentors brought the Lenore F. Coral Travel Grant to my attention and encouraged me to apply so that I could attend the next IAML Congress in Leipzig, Germany. The application process and the experience of attending the Congress enabled me to build invaluable connections with the MLA and IAML communities, and gave me the fantastic opportunity to develop my goals and knowledge as a music research student by exploring the libraries, archives, and musical life of Leipzig.   

Applying for the Coral Travel Grant was a very simple and accessible process. At the time that I applied, I had just started a new graduate program, and I worried whether applying for the grant would be taking on too much on top of my coursework. However, the requirements for the Travel Grant application were more than manageable, consisting of a letter of application, three letters of recommendation, and a CV. The Travel Grant committee was helpful and encouraging in guiding me through the application process. Of course, I was thrilled to find out a few months later that I had been awarded the grant.

My experience at the 2018 IAML Congress was unforgettable. I was able to attend a range of presentations related to my main area of interest (digital music resources), as well as other areas of music librarianship that I had not explored before. A few of my favorite sessions included “Online Access and Research in the Digital Age,” “Music and Linked Open Data,” “Rethinking Women Composers in East Asia and the East-Asian Music Database II,” and the opening session on music history and music collections in Leipzig. Additionally, there were numerous fantastic musical and cultural experiences outside of the conference sessions, including a guided tour of the Bach Archiv library and the German National Library; multiple concerts featuring groups such as the Leipzig Synagogalchor, the Sächsisches Vocalensemble, and amarcord (a vocal quintet made up of former members of the Thomanerchor); and a Farewell Dinner at the Panorama Tower. It was also very meaningful for me to be able to reconnect with the music librarians and archivists I had met the previous year, and to make new connections. The IAML community is very welcoming. Although I was attending the Congress on my own, I never felt left out or alone; indeed, on more than one occasion I was invited to lunch or coffee with music information professionals from research and educational institutions around the world. 

The Lenore F. Coral Travel Grant allowed me to continue building the relationships that I had formed with IAML and MLA members at my first conference, helped me to further develop and expand my areas of interest within music librarianship, and reinforced for me the importance of international and interdisciplinary collaborations in music information and research professions. The financial support of the grant made it possible for me to have this professionally and personally enriching experience as a student without a regular source of income. The next IAML Congress, taking place in Prague during the summer of 2022, promises to be another exciting gathering of a diverse and supportive community. I would encourage any music information professional, student, and/or MLA member who is interested in attending the next IAML Congress to apply for the Lenore F. Coral Travel Grant.

the Lenore F. Coral Travel Grant