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This past weekend I attended the Southeast Chapter of the Music Library Association’s annual meeting in Columbus, GA.

We had the welcome reception in the music library in the Schwob School of Music, part of Columbus State University. A lot of music librarians in the southeast have been in their jobs for over 20 years, so people seemed to know each other really well. The music library was pretty snazzy, including a nice separate room with comfy chairs and plants just for current periodicals. I noticed that their hours were not nearly as generous as ours, including not being open at all on Saturdays.

The next day was full of presentations – I thought I’d write briefly about each for those of you who have no idea what music librarians talk about!

The first presentation was by the archivist at Columbus State University, about the process of digitizing and creating access to a sheet music collection by “Blind Tom” Wiggins, a Columbus, GA local. During this presentation I learned about an open source digital library software called Greenstone, which I had not heard of before.

The next presentation chronicled the process of putting a collection of popular sheet music, all about the Scopes Trial, evolution, or monkeys, online. The librarian detailed how he had to treat pieces of music differently depending on its copyright and publication dates. The handout he gave, full of resources about copyright, will be immensely helpful later.

After a quick break, two music librarians presented on the piano music of Louise Talma. One librarian talked about her life and accomplishments, and the second one demonstrated her music on piano. I have to admit, I thought I knew a lot about American composers, but I had never heard of Louis Talma.

After lunch we went on a tour of the Springer Opera House, which included information on the more famous people who have come through (Edwin Booth, John Philip Sousa, etc.) and some great ghost stories. As in most “opera houses,” opera was rarely performed there.

Later in the afternoon we toured the RiverCenter performance spaces, but not before a presentation comparing the steaming services of Naxos Music Library with the Classical Music Library.

That evening we had cocktail hour and a banquet at a historic home on the Chattahoochee River. At dinner I sat by librarians from New Orleans, and heard a lot about what they’ve been going through both personally and at the music library. At this particular music library the entire contents were destroyed, and they have a long recovery ahead of them.

The next day we had two presentations from retired music librarians still in the chapter about music in Georgia – one focused on shape note singing and one focused on songs about Georgia. As the chapter meetings move around every year, I imagine I’ll learn more about the regional musics of the southeast.

Categories: Conference, SEMLA, Travel