Music Library Association 86th Annual Meeting
22-26 February 2017 in Orlando, FL

Friday, February 24, 1:30pm-2:55pm

Who’s Afraid of the Big Backlog? MPLP and Music Special Collections

Backlogs of unprocessed special collections hinder libraries' ability to fulfill their missions of preserving and ensuring access to cultural memory. Meanwhile, special collections are only becoming more important as a means to set an institution apart from others with unique materials which it owns outright. Music libraries are no exception to this dilemma. In 2016, a survey distributed by the MLA's Archives and Special Collections Committee found that a plurality of respondents noted that the extent of their backlog was either unknown (30%) or between 100-500 linear ft. (32%). Additionally, the majority of MLA members who responded to the survey stated that they were not sufficiently prepared to handle the archival responsibilities of their position. Uncertainty encourages practitioners to put off projects, or to follow a rigid, abstract ideal of how a collection must be handled, including excessively meticulous steps for preservation, and item-level description. Such an approach either causes backlogs to grow, or increasingly constrains an institution's ability to acquire new collections. This session on "More Product, Less Process," or "MPLP," the revised approach to workflows which has had a pivotal impact on archival practice in the past decade, aims to equip attendees with the means to approach collections strategically, with the goal of maximizing access and allocating efforts where they are most needed. A panel discussion will follow the main speaker's presentation.


  • Speakers
    • Dan Santamaria, Tufts University
    • Maristella Feustle, University of North Texas
    • Matt Snyder, New York Public Library
  • Location
    • Grand Ballroom A
  • Live Streaming?
    • Yes

Return to Schedule