In my opinion, if one is in library school (but not only then!), no matter their interests, whether they may study archives, public, law, health science, academic, or music librarianship, it is absolutely imperative to go to student conferences. Any conference, really! I have had many library professionals tell me this for a number of reasons. I took it to heart, saved money to go, and hiked over to Naperville, IL to take part in the Midwest Chapter Conference of the Music Library Association.
I suppose an archivist student should go to the Society of American Archivists and, if possible, every library student should try to make it to the American Library Association at least once. But why not branch out? Our field is doing it, and we future music librarians should be doing it, too.
As a student of librarianship, I have many different interests in the field. With my music education background and my passion for music and libraries, marrying the two fields is a dream-come-true for me. My other interests include marketing for public libraries, multimedia, serials, children’s materials, and library instruction.
Although conferences from a wide variety of organizations all pertain to their field, many of them branch out into other areas as well, not just different types of librarianship. The MLA Midwest Chapter meeting did just that, and I learned so much from the three days I spent attending the conference. This was in NO WAY draining me emotionally, it lifted me up!
Many people who attended, either as library leaders or just as an attendee were not necessarily musicians or pure music librarians. Some were academic or public librarians working with multimedia materials. Some were fine arts librarians covering a breadth of other disciplines such as art, dance, or photography.
Either way the MLA Midwest Chapter meeting reflected what I had suspected. The music librarian is a changing role that is going to continue to evolve as technology changes and information becomes more accessible. It is a role that is going to encompass more than just issues in a music library or archive. I mean, just look at these diverse topics we covered at the meeting: FLAC files, ebooks, the psychology of librarians, video conferencing, institutional usage of IMSLP and the Petrucci Music Library, the Artists and the Specter, and many others.
These issues not only affect music librarians but cover the entire library profession as well. On the social aspect, I was fortunate enough to meet some wonderful colleagues from other library schools. I became closer with friends and mentors, and I met other librarians who I feel are role models for the newer people such as myself in the profession, which may well describe my Vision of Happiness.
Altogether, as the field of librarianship is becoming less specialized and much more dispersed, I encourage all music librarian students to attend at least one conference. It does not have to be MLA (San Jose is difficult for me to trek to at this time and to be honest, I feel pretty good at my home), but it should be anything! You will learn things that an ordinary library class won’t cover. You will connect with people you would not normally connect who are as passionate about libraries as you are.