Music Librarians sail into Norfolk

March 6, 2020
Ray Heigemeir
The Norfolk, Virginia skyline

Norfolk, Virginia, welcomed Music Library Association members traveling by planes, trains, automobiles (and perhaps a boat or two?) to the MLA Annual Conference February 26-March 1. Norfolk, on the Chesapeake Bay, is home to Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Norfolk’s history as a transportation and commercial hub stretches back to the 17th century, and today is a pleasing jumble of old and new as can be seen in its eclectic mix of architectural styles.   The Hilton Downtown, our conference home, is just two years old; across from the entrance is the century-old Roman temple-style U.S. Custom House, solidly built of Maine granite and providing a distinct contrast with the hotel. 

Norfolk Custom House

A two day preconference sponsored by the Music OCLC Users Group included the well-received presentation, “The Warehouse of Wonders : gifts that keep on… ‘giving’, and other sordid tales from the backlog,” by Stanford’s Head of Music Metadata Services Kevin Kishimoto and Sound Archives Metadata Librarian Clare Spitzer. Conference presentations included a wide range of topics including the Music Modernization Act, recently passed legislation which significantly updates music licensing in the streaming environment, copyright management, and royalty pay structures; genre headings and popular music; “vocational awe" and the music library profession; streaming service innovations; world music studies; silent film music; Ivy Plus; equitable library services; instruction for ESL students; and much more. Vendors were also at hand to display and discuss their products.

The opening plenary session on music in Norfolk began with an examination of the legacy of music producer Frank Guido and the “Norfolk Sound” as embodied by Gary U.S. Bonds; it was followed with an analysis of the music collection belonging to the Moses Myers family, a prominent 19th century family of Jewish merchants who were avid amateur musicians.  The historic Moses Myers House was nearby and open for tours.

A few photos:

Moses Myers house, built in 1792

Moses Myers House, built in 1792

Music room in the Moses Myers house, including a harp and music stand

Myers House music room 

Freemason Street Baptist Church

The striking Freemason Street Baptist Church, built in 1850 in the Perpendicular Gothic style

Hilton Hotel escalators

Finally, the modern facade of the Hilton Hotel (2017), interior view