MLA and SAA: Two LIS Organizations of Interest

Becoming a member of a professional association can be an exciting experience because the association provides a space to network with other professionals in a given field and it also gives individuals more opportunities to learn more about their occupation. I have been a member of many organizations throughout the years, especially in college and those organizations have been closely related to things that I have an interest in. As a graduate student majoring in archival administration and an aspiring music historian, I plan on joining two organizations that closely fit my passions and those are the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Music Library Association (MLA). Both organizations provide great opportunities for seasoned Library Information professionals as well as novices in the field. They also uphold the functions that all professional associations need to have and those are: standards and guidelines for performance, codification of standards, development of codes of ethics, development of policies, advocacy for the profession, continuing education, and legislative activities (Smith, 2015).

MLA

MLA encourages and promotes the activities of music libraries, archives and documentation centers in supporting and facilitating the realization of projects in music bibliography, music documentation and music library and information science at national and international levels (“About MLA and IAML,” n.d.).  MLA is the United States branch of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres.

An interesting thing to note about MLA is that it is not just geared toward music librarians, but all information professionals who are passionate about preserving and supporting music worldwide. Some of its goals include providing leadership for the collection and preservation of music and information about music in libraries and archives, developing programs that promote continuing education and professional development in music librarianship; and collaborating with other groups in the music and technology industries, government, and librarianship, to promote our mission and values. (“Mission Statement,” n.d.).

Membership benefits of MLA are similar to most organizations and they include voting privileges in national elections, a copy of the quarterly MLA journal, access to the organization’s online membership directory and discounted registration fees for annual conferences. MLA also has a career resources section where they lists job postings and for members they provide resume and cover letter critiquing services. Students who have an interest in music archiving, librarianship, etc. can benefit from the organization’s mentoring program where they are paired veteran professionals in the library science field. Mentoring is another aspect of the organization that really impressed me and is one of the reasons why I plan to join.

The membership benefits of MLA are similar to most organization and they include voting privileges in national elections, a copy of the quarterly MLA journal, access to the organization’s online membership directory and discounted registration fees for annual conferences. MLA also has a career resources section where they lists job postings and for members they provide resume and cover letter critiquing services. Students who have an interest in music archiving, librarianship, etc. can benefit from the organization’s mentoring program where they are paired veteran professionals in the library science field.

MLA also has a quarterly journal called Notes, which has been published since 1934 and it offers its readers interesting, informative, and well-written articles in the areas of music librarianship, music bibliography and discography, the music trade, and on certain aspects of music history. (“Notes, the Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association,” n.d.).

The content in the journal is broken up into categories like book and music reviews, music theory and covers material on a variety of genres such as classical, pop, jazz, and theater.

The organizations holds an annual conference that deals with issues and new findings pertaining to music librarianship. It’s next meeting will be held February 25-28 in Denver. MLA does not have a very large social following compared to other organizations like SAA. They only have a Facebook for social media, which they update quite often.

SAA

I have been familiar with the Society of American Archivists for a long time and this was one of the first organizations that gave me a very detailed overview of the archives profession.  The SAA is an organization that all aspiring archivists should join because it provides really in-depth training tools for students entering the profession such as a Thesaurus for college and university archives, a glossary of archival and record terminology and a guide to effective research, which covers such issues as how archives function, how to identify appropriate archives for your research, and how to access historical materials and research at an archives(Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research n.d.).

Those tools really comes in handy for novices just entering the field such as myself who want to learn more about terms associated with archives and get an overall introduction to working on archives. The SAA was formed in 1936 and is the oldest and largest national archival professional organization in North America.

This mission of SAA is to promote the values and diversity of archives and archivists. SAA also enables archivists to achieve professional excellence and foster innovation to ensure the identification, preservation, and use of records of enduring value (About SAA, n.d.). There are different types of memberships a person can inquire such as a individual membership (full, student, or associate) and an institutional membership. Individual members have access to the semi-annual journal The American Archivist, the bimonthly newsletter Archival Outlook, member discounts on registration for meetings, access to their mentoring program and to the SAA membership directory, which provides networking opportunities with other SAA members.

The SAA is really dedicated to helping aspiring archivists thrive in the field so in addition to offering training tools, they also have a directory of schools throughout the U.S. that have archival education programs. I used this directory to help narrow down my choices for graduate schools that offer MLIS degrees and it was really helpful because they include a detailed description of the masters program and what types of courses they offer. The SAA also offers a multitude of scholarships, awards, and fellowships for students and professionals in the field.

The organization’s publication is the American Archivist, which is considered one of the most comprehensive archival journals in the field. The journal is published twice a year and was established in 1938. I reviewed the Fall/Winter 2011 issue and it contained journal articles about open-access publishing, digital records management and digital forensics, and the changing archival landscape.

The SAA has a very large social media presence and update their pages regularly. They have over 7,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter, and they also have a LinkedIn page as well.

Based on the information provided about the MLA and the SAA, one can see that they provide many avenues of opportunity for both information professionals and those seeking to become information professionals. I definitely plan on joining both organizations and look forward to being involved in the services they provide for members.

Sources:

About MLA and IAML. Retrieved from http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/?page=iaml

About SAA. Retrieved from http://www2.archivists.org/about

Mission Statement. Retrieved from http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/?page=MissionStatement

Notes, the Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, Retrieved from http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/?page=Notes

Smith, Stephanie. Professionals and Professionalism. [PDF Document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes online https://blackboard.wayne.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-4926536-dt-content-rid-5389785_2/courses/LIS_6010_1501_001.002_COMB/Professionalism%281%29.pdf

Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research. Retrieved from http://www2.archivists.org/usingarchives

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