Music librarians gather in St. Louis

March 1, 2019
Ray Heigemeir
Apotheosis of St. Louis, by Charles Henry Niehaus

Apotheosis of St. Louis, by Charles Henry Niehaus, depicts Louis IX of France (1214-1270), namesake of St. Louis, Missouri.


Music librarians from around the country traveled to St. Louis, MO recently for the 88thannual meeting of the Music Library Association.

St. Louis as a location, chosen several years ago, prompted some concern among the membership in 2017 after the NAACP issued its travel ban, following incidents of violence against minorities as well as continued disparity in employment laws. MLA President Mark McKnight sought counsel from the St. Louis NAACP Chapter President, who strongly encouraged MLA to keep its commitment to the St. Louis location because of the positive economic impact that our meeting would bring to the city. This inspired the meeting’s theme of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and how we embrace these ideals in the services we provide, the collections we cultivate, and the staff we develop. A number of sessions were built around the DEI theme, and the opening plenary session, “St. Louis Black Musicians Speak: Our Lives Matter!” featured inspiring words and singing by R&B/soul artist Brian Owens. Owens discussed his non-profit organization, L.I.F.E. Arts (Leadership, Innovation, Faith, Entrepreneurship) which builds leadership skills through engagement with the arts in underserved communities.

As a practical activity, MLA members held a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the St. Louis Public Library, to teach community members how to contribute articles about St. Louis’s rich musical heritage to that resource.

Stanford was well-represented in presentations, including by Frank Ferko (diversity in musical theatre), Nancy Lorimer (metadata and diverse musical content) and Ray Heigemeir (MLA web history).  "Faceted Vocabularies for Music: A New Era in Resource Discovery" in Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association Vol. 73/3 (2017) by Casey Mullin, Beth Iseminger, Nancy Lorimer and Hermine Vermeij, won the Richard S. Hill Award for the best article on music librarianship or article of a music-bibliographic nature. Congratulations, Nancy!

We gathered at the historic Union Station Hotel (built 1894), a National Historic Landmark that includes an impressive barrel-vaulted ceiling in the Grand Hall, a renovated train shed, and the original Fred Harvey restaurant, famous for the “Harvey Girls” and their revolutionary methods of efficient and pleasant food service for travelers. Union Station was once the largest and busiest train stations in the US. A few photos: 

The Grand Hall of the Union Station Hotel

The opulent Grand Hall featured music-themed light shows every hour.

The exhibits space in the Union Station Hotel

Vendor exhibits were set up in the trian shed.

An exterior view of the hotel

An exterior view of the hotel.