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6/21/2015 » 6/26/2015
IAML-IMS Congress 2015 New York




A. Ralph Papakhian Special Achievement Award
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ralph papakhian; photo courtesy of Richard Griscom.An award recognizing extraordinary service to the profession of music librarianship over a relatively short period of time.


Throughout his career, Arsen Ralph Papakhian (1948-2010) was active in the Music Library Association, and he made significant contributions to the association as an officer, committee chair, and author.  He served on the board of directors as assistant fiscal officer and fiscal officer (1986-88) and executive secretary (1988-92).  In 1992, he was awarded MLA's Special Achievement Award for his "countless efforts to bring the Association into the electronic age of communications"--most notably, for his role in founding MLA-L in 1989--and in 2008 was presented the MLA Citation in recognition of his distinguished service to the profession.  He received two Richard S. Hill Awards for the best article on music librarianship: the first in 1985 for the article (written with Richard Smiraglia) "Music in the OCLC Online Union Catalog: A Review" and the second in 2002 for his article "Cataloging," both published in Notes.

Ralph was best known for his work as a music cataloger.  He was a model practitioner and teacher.  Beginning in the late 1970s, he taught classes and supervised internships for library students enrolled in the music specialization offered by IU's School of Library and Information Science.  In the mid-1990s, he and Sue Stancu instituted a summer cataloging workshop, and each year the roster for the workshop filled within days and names were added to a waiting list.  Over the years, he trained dozens--if not hundreds--of music catalogers and he instilled in each the importance of accuracy, curiosity, and intellectual rigor.

Ralph served as vice-chair and chair of the Music OCLC Users Group, and he was the driving force behind the NACO Music Project, a cooperative effort to manage and build a database of authorized music headings.  In 2005, MOUG presented Ralph with its Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his contributions to the group and to the profession of music cataloging.

Ralph is remembered for his brilliant intellect, his principled approach to cataloging, and the spirited fights he waged for what he knew to be right.  His calm, serene manner belied the fire in his mind and spirit. When he described how a cataloger makes a decision "in the heat of the cataloging moment," we all laughed, because the anxiety and struggle implied by the words seemed so foreign to Ralph's character.  The heat was there, though; he kept it contained and controlled.

Ralph is also remembered as a friend and colleague.  He was a person who dealt with everyone on a level playing field.  He enjoyed meeting people and would spend as much time talking with a first-time attendee as he would a library director.  He spoke honestly and plainly, and valued people who did the same.



Past recipients



2014 Brenda Nelson-Strauss
Tracey Rudnick
2013Kathy Glennan
Ruthann McTyre and Judy Tsou
2007Nancy Bren Nuzzo
2003Paula Matthews
2001Jane Gottlieb
1999Lowell Ashley
1998Sherry Vellucci
1996John Howard
1995Lenore Coral
1992Ralph A. Papakhian