Best of Chapters Competition Guidelines

The Best of Chapters Competition was created to honor presenters at chapter conferences for their excellent research and to allow a broader sharing of their valuable work. All chapters are strongly encouraged to participate in the competition. Many of our MLA members have given outstanding presentations at chapter meetings, and the association benefits strongly by the opportunity to hear the presentations again with a wider audience.



Submissions from chapters are usually due in late May or early June, with announcements of winners usually occurring mid-July. The chair of the Best of Chapters committee alerts chapter chairs by means of the chapter chair listserv each year regarding the specific schedule and deadlines for that round. 

Nomination methods

Each chapter may proceed with its own way of nominating papers for this competition, whether done by the chapter’s executive committee, an appointed committee, ballot by the chapter members, or other method.

Guidelines for chapter submissions

Each regional chapter may nominate up to two papers or presentations, including panel presentations. Please note, however, that a nomination including multiple parties must confirm the availability of all members to attend the national meeting if selected.

Regional chapters may co-sponsor a nomination, which will count toward each chapter's allotted "up to two" nominations. Co-sponsor chapters retain the option of submitting one additional presentation each. A co-sponsored nomination receives no advantage over a single nomination; all will be ranked as separate submissions in equal standing.

Presenters of nominated papers must be a member of either the local chapter of MLA, the national association, or both. A regional chapter may nominate a presentation given by a non-chapter member, as long as that individual is a member of MLA. A co-presentation given by an MLA member with a non-MLA member is eligible.

Current contact information (name, phone number, email address) for each presenter must be included in each nomination.

Papers from past meetings as well as current chapter meetings just held may be nominated. Papers previously submitted for the Best of Chapters competition but not chosen as winners are eligible.

Papers submitted for the Best of Chapters competition may not be submitted as proposals to the general Program Committee during the same year. Papers already previously presented at the national conference in any way, including poster sessions, roundtables, etc. are not eligible. The committee reserves the right to reject any nominations that resemble or duplicate a presentation given by the nominated individual at a previous meeting.

Presentations selected as winners may need to be limited to 45 minutes in length for presentation at the national conference.  The chapter chair will certify that this was the paper actually given and selected. Papers should NOT be re-written after presentation.

Guidelines for nominated presenters

For written papers: textual presentations must have examples shown and sent along with the text. If the required material is not submitted, the submission will be rejected at the point of receipt as incomplete.

For PowerPoint presentations: in addition to a copy of the printed slides, written text summarizing the expanded points of the slides of a minimum of 6 pages must be submitted. If the required material is not submitted, the submission will be rejected at the point of receipt as incomplete. 

All audio musical examples used for a presentation should be included in the submission and sent on CD or as an email attachment.

Presentations consisting solely of audio and/or video are allowed. Any accompanying written text used for the presentation should also be submitted, or if presentation text was delivered freely, a written summary should be created and submitted.

Inadequate and poor documentation reduces the chance of a nomination being chosen as a winner, as the committee cannot determine the content or quality of the presentation. It is the chapter’s responsibility chapter to work with the presenter to submit strong material, as one would for any other competition or award. 


Submission process

Once chapter nominations are received, chapters will be asked to submit the presentations to the committee chair. The chapter chair or nominated presenters may submit materials to the committee chair, provided that the intent is communicated between all parties.

Presentations may be submitted as email attachments when the size of files are not overwhelming for transfer and receipt, or as website links. Electronic submissions are strongly preferred. If materials (written text, audio, video content) are mailed, three copies should be sent for distribution to committee members. No materials will be returned once the competition is completed. A list of all materials being submitted should be sent to the chair, and the list should indicate how each of the materials is being sent to the chair.

Evaluation process

The committee is selected to include, as much as possible, a broad representation both geographically and in regard to type of music librarianship. A weighted voting system is used to rank the nominations. The number of winners selected will be up to 2 (due to the amount of time given to the Best of Chapters session at MLA). While nominated presentations must be submitted to the committee in their original form, winning presentations may be updated or revised to reflect current research or data, provided that such revisions do not constitute a substantial change to the original.


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About MLA

The Music Library Association is the professional association for music libraries and librarianship in the United States. Founded in 1931, it has an international membership of librarians, musicians, scholars, educators, and members of the book and music trades. Complementing the Association’s national and international activities are eleven regional chapters that carry out its programs on the local level.