NEW ENGLAND QUARTER NOTES: december 2020, NO. 206

Message from the Chair
Secretary/Treasurer’s Report
Fall 2020 Meeting Minutes
Spring Meeting Preview
Seeking Nominations/Committee Members
NEMLA Officers
Publication Information

Message from the Chair


I would first like to give a very big THANK YOU to all of our board and committee members who have kept NEMLA moving forward throughout the chaos we’ve experienced in 2020! We held two very productive virtual conferences, had a successful round of membership renewals, brought our Instruction Committee back to full membership, and have made important steps in advancing our efforts with diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. And with that in mind, I have a few important updates:

First, the board is planning on creating a new position: the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice (EDIJ) Officer. From the feedback we received from the Diversity Committee survey this summer and subsequent discussion at the fall meeting, it seemed like the majority of NEMLA members supported making this position an official voting position on the board. However, establishing a new voting officer requires a change to the by-laws and an election (more on that below), which will take over a year. The board can create new positions at any time, but only for non-voting special officers. Since we want to start our EDIJ work without delay, the board plans to approve the special officer position to begin in spring 2021. Please consider serving in this position! If you’re interested, contact Sarah Funke Donovan, Chair of the Nominating Committee.

In the meantime, we will also work on amending the by-laws to create a permanent EDIJ Officer as a voting member of the board. We are already working on the by-law amendments, and once the board has approved them, the text will be sent to all NEMLA members to be discussed at the business meeting this spring. Ballots will then be sent to all members for a final vote. Assuming the amendments are approved, candidates will be on the 2022 election ballot, and the new EDIJ Officer (voting member of the Board) should take office at the spring 2022 meeting.

We also plan to establish a corresponding EDIJ Committee. It is the duty of the chair to create new committees, and I plan to do so as soon as we have the special officer in place to chair that committee. The official committee charge will be another part of the by-law amendments to be discussed at the spring 2021 meeting, so stay tuned!

Again, thanks to all of you who give your time in service to NEMLA, and a special thanks in advance to those who will devote their time to these very important issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice. We all must play a part in breaking down our current systems and rebuilding them to include the many diverse people who have been excluded for far too long. We all benefit from the ideas and perspectives diverse people bring to the table, and I am incredibly pleased to see NEMLA moving forward with this difficult and essential work.

Thank you!

Lisa Wollenberg


NEMLA Secretary/Treasurer’s Report

Submitted by Brendan Higgins, NEMLA Secretary-Treasurer


Thanks to all who have renewed their memberships since our July renewal period.  We currently have 58 active members, who have officially registered through the MLA website.  Membership dues totaling $768.00 were received from MLA, as well as grant monies won by the Music Librarianship Education Task Force. If you have any questions about the status of your membership or the current process, please email Brendan Higgins at

Fall Meeting

There were 82 registered attendees for our fall meeting, which was held via Zoom online. This includes 17 attendees outside the New England region. Since the meeting was held online and required no registration fee, there is no income nor are there expenditures to report for this meeting.

Fall 2020 Meeting Summary

Submitted by Allison Nowicki Estell, Member-At-Large

The New England Music Library Association’s Fall Meeting took place over Zoom on Friday, October 23, 2020.  This was NEMLA’s first meeting specially dedicated to diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism in music libraries and our collections.  Participation ranged from about 30 people at the beginning and end, to a peak of more than 50 during a substantial portion of the day.

In lieu of an opening speech, Chair Lisa Wollenberg led us in a relaxation and mindfulness breathing exercise to move away from the day-to-day stresses of our individual lives and to come together as a group for the meeting.  She acknowledged the challenges we have faced and the changes we have gone through individually and collectively throughout 2020 and applauded our learning and perseverance.  This set the stage for the board’s report on the NEMLA Diversity Survey that was conducted over the summer.

Lisa presented the results of the Diversity Survey, while NEMLA Archivist Emily Levine moderated chat and questions.  There were 17 respondents to the survey; one person identified as a BIPOC, and one preferred not to answer that question.  Key takeaways:

·        Most respondents supported a diversity committee, but only two were interested in serving on it.

·        Most respondents thought the Chair of the committee should be elected and should be a voting member of the NEMLA Board. 

·        Respondents were pretty split on whether non-NEMLA members or people from outside New England should be allowed to serve, unless it was clear that an individual could bring some special viewpoint or expertise to the committee. 

·        As for the committee’s charge, respondents favored focusing on underrepresentation in NEMLA’s membership, the profession, and our collections, but there was also support for focusing on our users, composers we collect, and collaboration with the MLA on diversity issues.

·        In trying to determine how the board could get people to participate on this committee, some survey respondents spoke up and said that the reason they didn’t express interest in serving was because the goals and responsibilities of the committee weren’t sufficiently clear, and they weren’t sure they would be able to commit the time.

·        Procedurally, if the Chair of the committee were to be a voting member of the board, we would need to change the bylaws (at the spring 2021 meeting), which could potentially push the formation of the EDIJ committee into 2022.  Ideas to get around this included having roundtables in the interim to try to come up with the charge for the committee, and appointing an ex officio EDIJ officer to the board.

·        As for the name of the committee, popular choices included Anti-racism, DEI (Diversity Equity, and Inclusion), Diversity & Inclusion, and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion).  The first (Antiracism) was seen as potentially too narrow for the work of the committee in the long run; after initially focusing on antiracist work, people felt that the committee should be able to branch out into gender, accessibility, and other issues.  But the last (JEDI) did start to see some support; in addition to people approving of the inclusion of the term “Justice,” there was also some enthusiasm about the prospect of committee members’ receiving light sabers. 

After this, Jared Rex introduced Nurhak Tuncer of Elizabeth City State University, for her presentation, Immigrant Music Librarians in the U.S.  Originally from Izmir, Turkey, Nurhak has been in the United States for 13 years, but she began this study back in 2018 in order to explore whether she was the only one grappling with a quest for belonging, and to bring a different perspective to the definition of diversity.  This nationwide survey was conducted over five months in 2018, using Survey Monkey to collect anonymous responses to 30 multiple-choice questions with open-response options.  Distributing the survey over ALA email lists, MLA-L, Music OCLC, and Facebook groups, she received 638 responses and 420 people completed the survey in its entirety.  Respondents were more likely to be female, highly educated, in the US for decades, and holding leadership positions; many came to the US for family or educational reasons.  Nurhak observed that immigrants are clearly making contributions to the library profession with their diverse backgrounds, and so now is the time for conversations about how to include these colleagues in our discussions on diversity and inclusion.  Then she led us in an activity using Google Suite’s Jamboard.  Participants enthusiastically responded to Nurhak’s prompts on whether we regarded ourselves as immigrants and whether we retain the cultural nuances of our ancestors in our identity somehow. 

After a short break, we were treated to an Overview of Wesleyan’s Indian Music Collection, by Jody Cormack Viswanathan and Aaron Bittel of Wesleyan University.  Originally scheduled as one of two lightning talks, we were not under time pressure to move quickly through these engaging musical examples because the second speaker (Dr. Tom Moore of Florida International University) was unable to join us for the meeting and present his talk.  Jody and Aaron shared the cultural diversity of one of Wesleyan’s collections; materials from the promotion and celebration of the Navaratri (Nine Nights) Festival.  After providing historical background for Wesleyan’s celebration of this festival, they presented videos showcasing a range of musical styles (some integrating dance), commenting that even Indians marvel at the musical and cultural diversity in their country.  Jody and Aaron stressed the importance of collecting for diverse culture, as well as country or language.  In addition to the performances, they showed marketing and outreach materials from the collection, including posters and photos.  They are currently working on a grant proposal to digitize the whole collection.  The performances and materials we were exposed to are a representative microcosm of the diversity of Wesleyan’s collection and the music in these cultures.

After a lunch break and breakout meetings for NEMLA committees, Memory Apata reminded us that her term as Newsletter Editor is coming to an end in December.  Memory shared that getting involved with NEMLA as the Newsletter Editor was transformational, helping her decide to pursue her library degree and really engage with music librarianship as a career. 

Following this ringing endorsement of the Newsletter Editor role, Ruthann McTyre of Yale University, as representative of the Music Library Association’s Strategic Planning Committee,  led us in a discussion about the future of the Music Library Association, with particular attention to the MLA’s plans to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in the organization.  Ruth ran the session as a focus group to enable the New England Chapter to provide input into this planning.  The questions she asked included: What brought you to MLA and music librarianship?  What is MLA doing well/could be doing better?  How could MLA get broader participation in committees, including paraprofessionals?  MLA membership continues to decrease; what can MLA do to stop/reverse this?  What does MLA need to do to create a sense of belonging for everyone, especially underrepresented groups?

These questions yielded ideas and questions from attendees on a variety of topics:

·        Accessibility at in-person meetings, both in terms of support for people with hearing differences, and remote access for those who cannot afford to attend in person

·        MLA has had some great sessions around DEI, and the topic of how to attract a more diverse membership has turned into a deeper discussion about support and promotion.

·        Ideas about how to maintain and extend the mentoring program 

·        Could we stave off decreasing MLA membership by reaching out to other performing arts librarians?

·        Should we decenter English as the primary language at MLA conferences?

·        We need to understand that inviting more people into MLA will and should change its culture, rather than forcing new members to assimilate into the organization as it is currently.  Are there any affinity groups in MLA currently?  If not, should we create these?

MLA’s strategic plan will cover the next 10 years, with specific action items for 2- to 3-year projects.  The Committee will distribute a survey in advance of MLA’s spring meeting, and the results will be discussed in a town hall meeting on the topic.  Ruthann invited anyone who wanted to give input to the strategic planning process, or who has questions or concerns about the process, to email her directly or to contact the chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, Holling Smith-Borne. 

After this discussion and a short break, Program Committee Chair/Vice-Chair Sandi-Jo Malmon expressed her appreciation for the hard work of the Program Committee in organizing the Fall Meeting.  I’ll follow her lead and mention here how much attendees appreciated their efforts. 

Next, Rebecca McCallum introduced Kerry Masteller and Liz Berndt-Morris, both of Harvard University, who presented We’re Still Here!: Teaching Research Remotely.  This session provided three case studies of library instruction developed during the pandemic:  

·        The first was a general music class with over 100 students learning both synchronously and asynchronously. Instruction in this course focused on research strategies.  Liz and Kerry used Zoom polls interspersed with the live session, and a shared Google docs for students to document their search process and reflect on what worked or didn’t work. 

·        The second case study was an undergraduate seminar, smaller and synchronous. Assignments included a comparison of network maps created from Grove 2001 and 2018 articles on Felix Mendelssohn, as well as a guided assignment on Amy Beach to explore contemporaneous sources such as newspapers and concert programs; Liz and Kerry also held drop-in sessions outside of classtime. 

·        The third case study was an introductory graduate seminar, with library instruction provided asynchronously to the students.  Liz and Kerry focused on the research process, including its affective elements; students were encouraged to share struggles and road blocks in a shared Google doc, and Liz and Kerry also reached out via Slack and Canvas. 

Liz and Kerry have generously shared the handouts from these three instruction sessions at:

As a bookend to Lisa’s meditative exercise in the morning, Peter Laurence of Harvard University hosted another activity of communal self-care: a virtual listening party.  This shared musical event was a way to continue our tradition of ending meetings with a concert and reception.  In addition to providing a common experience, the listening party format allowed for “audience” participation: Peter kicked things off with “Ghetto Soundwave” by Fishbone, and then he drew from attendees’ suggestions.  Peter presented the YouTube videos via Zoom screenshare; he usually uses the platform twoseven [] for his listening parties, but it doesn’t play nicely with Zoom.  The theme was songs of protest, but the energy in much of this music was a testament to resilience and hope.  For those of you unable to attend this session (or who want to recreate the memory), here’s what we listened to together:

·        Fishbone, “Ghetto Soundwave”

·        Florence Price, “Sketches in Sepia,” performed by Samantha Ege

·        Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions, “People Get Ready”

·        Rebelmatic, “Please Don’t Shoot”

·        Rhiannon Giddens, “At the Purchaser’s Option”

·        Bob Marley, “Get Up Stand Up”

·        John Lennon, “Imagine”

·        Janelle Monae, “Mr. President”

·        Stevie Wonder, “Visions,” performed by Cécile McLorin Salvant

·        Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On”

·        Sixx:A.M., “Life Is Beautiful”

·        John Prine, “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore”

·        Hadag Nahash, “Shirat Hasticker (The Sticker Song)”

·        Manu Chao, “Clandestino”

These tracks captivated 27 attendees until the very last note. 

Many thanks to Chair Lisa Wollenberg, the Program Committee, and all of our presenters for a varied and engaging day of learning, contemplation, and fellowship. 

 Spring Meeting Survey/Call for Proposals

The New England Music Library Program Committee is seeking proposals for our spring virtual meeting, scheduled to take place online on Friday, May 7, 2021.  This one-day conference is an opportunity for New England-based music librarians and library staff to discuss topics related to all aspects of music librarianship and music scholarship.  

As with the fall conference, the Program Committee is especially interested in proposals – either full length (40 min.) or lightning rounds (10-15 min.) – related to the following topics:

  • Diversity (or the lack thereof) in music librarianship, including topics relating to inclusive descriptive practices, description of world music, collection building, outreach, etc.
  • Protest music, including protest/parody music (e.g. Randy Rainbow, Tom Lehrer, Bob Marley, Childish Gambino)
  • Music by composers from diverse and/or under-represented groups
  • Popular musics such as blues, jazz, reggae, hip hop, etc.
  • Suggestions and best practices for providing remote services to patrons

Proposals for topics not on this list will also be happily considered.   

If you would enjoy speaking on one of these topics, or have another topic in mind, please submit your proposal to by Friday, March 19, 2021.  

For more information, please contact Sandi-Jo Malmon at or 617-823-3270.

Finally, the program committee is interested in providing meaningful social opportunities at the spring meeting. To that end, the committee has created a survey to gain feedback from the membership. Please share your thoughts via the linked Google Form.

Program committee members:

Sandi-Jo Malmon (chair)

Rebecca McCallum

Jared Rex

Terry Simpkins

Call for Nominations

We are now accepting nominations for the following officer positions on the NEMLA Board:

Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect (3 year term): 

  • Performs the duties of the Chair in the latter’s absence. 
  • Serves as Chair of the Program Committee.
  • Also serves as an ex-officio member of the Education & Outreach Committee. 
  • The term of office shall be one year after which the Vice-Chair shall succeed to the office of Chair and then Past-Chair, meaning a commitment of three years. 

Secretary-Treasurer (2 year term)

  • Record the minutes of all meetings and preserve all official records and reports of the chapter;
  • Keep an up-to-date membership list and notify the members of all meetings;
  • Conduct correspondence of the chapter as may be required;
  • Prepare an annual budget, maintain chapter accounts, and report on status of these accounts at each board meeting;
  • Represent the organization in all financial matters, including collecting dues, receiving payments, and making authorized expenditures

Thank you for your consideration. Please email Sarah Funke Donovan, Chair of the Nominating Committee at if you have any questions about these positions or would like to nominate yourself or someone else for one of these positions.

NEMLA Officers

Lisa Wollenberg
Public Services Librarian
Allen Library
University of Hartford
200 Bloomfield Ave
West Hartford, CT 06117
lwollenbe at
Office: (860) 768-4840
Sandi-Jo Malmon
Librarian for Collection Development
Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library
Harvard University
3 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
smalmon at
(617) 998-5415
Malmon Headshot
Past Chair:
Sarah Funke Donovan
Associate Archivist for Digital Assets
Boston Symphony Orchestra
301 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
sdonovan at
(617) 638-9452
Brendan Higgins
Faculty Liaison and Outreach Librarian
Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02215
bhiggins at
Higgins headshot
Allison Estell
Associate Director for Access & Organization
Douglas D. Schumann Library & Learning Commons
Wentworth Institute of Technology
550 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
estella at
(617) 989-4746
Estell Headshot
Newsletter Editor:
Memory Apata
Music & Performing Arts Librarian
Paddock Music Library
Dartmouth College
Hopkins Center, HB 6245 Hanover, NH 03755
memory.r.apata at
(603) 646-3234
NEMLA Archivist:
Emily Levine
Reference Librarian
Public Library of Brookline
361 Washington St
Brookline, MA 02445
elevine at
(617) 730-2370
Website Editor:
Liz Berndt-Morris
Music Reference and Research
Services Librarian
Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library
Harvard University
3 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
eaberndtmorris at
(617) 998-5310

Publication Information 

New England Quarter Notes is published quarterly in September, December, March/April and June/July.
Back issues may be accessed from:

Address all correspondence concerning editorial matters to:
Memory Apata

Inquiries concerning subscription, membership and change of address should be directed to:
Brendan Higgins

Membership year runs July 1st to June 30th.
Regular Personal Membership:$12.00
Student and Retired Membership:$6.00
Institutional Membership$16.00

Return to the New England Music Library Association home page.