This award recognizes 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 the first recipient of 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.
The MLA Special Achievement Award was renamed in Papahkhian's memory in 2011.
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.
2016 recipient: Mark Puente
Mark has been MLA’s most diligent advocate for issues of equality in music librarianship. Recognizing a need for greater diversity in music librarianship, Mark worked on a demographic study of our profession to gather concrete data on the ethnic and racial make-up of our membership. He co-authored an article in Notes which served as a call to action. His efforts led MLA toward working with the Association for Research Libraries on a successful IMLS-funded grant to support studies in music librarianship for individuals from minority populations. The inspiration for and much of the work for this grant proposal came from Mark. The recipients of these grants have enriched and broadened our association. Mark’s efforts, however, did not stop at securing funding. Mark also serves as an active and effective mentor to the recipients, advising and encouraging them as they work toward a new career.
Mark’s efforts have moved MLA forward in its efforts towards diversity, equality, and inclusion. Thanks to Mark Puente, MLA is finally making progress, and continues to make progress, in this important area.
Ruthann McTyre and Judy Tsou
||MLA Special Achievement Award renamed in memory of A. Ralph Papakhian
||Nancy Bren Nuzzo
||A. Ralph Papakhian