Walter Gerboth Award

Walter Gerboth

The Walter Gerboth Award was established in 1984 by the Music Library Association in memory of its Past President and Honorary Member Walter Gerboth. Walter Gerboth was a librarian, teacher, mentor, a leader in the Music Library Association, and a pathmaker in music librarianship. The award is made to support research-in-progress in music or music librarianship. If an award is offered, applicants must be MLA members in good standing in order to accept. Calls for applications are issued in the spring. Awards are announced each year at the MLA Annual meeting.

Walter Gerboth (1925–1984) was Head of the Music Library and Professor in the Department of Music at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He was instrumental in the development of what became the MARC format for machine readable cataloging of music. Active in MLA, Walter served as MLA President from 1969 to 1972, as a member-at-large on the board of directors, and chaired many MLA committees. Walter also created many of MLA's serial publications. The Music Cataloging Bulletin was his idea, as were the MLA Index and Bibliography Series and the MLA Newsletter.

Of the many accomplishments for which Walter was most loved and admired, among the most important was his role as a mentor, initially to individuals, but ultimately to the profession of music librarianship itself. As a result of his encouragement, many of his students at Brooklyn College became music librarians. At annual MLA meetings he always acquainted himself with the newest members and saw to it that they were given responsibilities for MLA projects and committee assignments. In recognition of his stature in the profession, Walter was posthumously awarded MLA's highest honor, the 1985 MLA Citation.

The Walter Gerboth Fund, endowed by Janice Gerboth and the contributions of hundreds of MLA members, supports the Walter Gerboth Award. Few music librarians work in institutions that encourage them to conduct research by providing release time or subsidy. The Walter Gerboth Award enables MLA to recognize promising work by its newer members (a group to which Walter Gerboth gave special encouragement) and new researchers, to support scholarship in music, music bibliography and librarianship, and to honor the memory of one of MLA's most distinguished and loved members.




As stated above, preference will be given to newer MLA members (within your first decade), as well as to MLA members regardless of length of service who are new to research.

For those with an LIS degree (MLS or equivalent):

  • You must have received your degree within the previous ten years (whether you have been working within the profession, or working independently researcher/lecturer/consultant/scholar in the LIS field); OR
  • You have been recently hired into your first full-time professional library position that has required research obligations and have not yet received tenure/continuing appointment (please include documentation of library and institutional criteria for promotion and tenure detailing research expectations);
For those without an LIS degree:

  • You should be employed full-time as a library staff member and be seeking support for your first research project in music or music librarianship.

Application materials

Documentation requirements and award amounts are reviewed annually. Additional documentation may be requested by the committee. Applicants should be prepared to submit the following with their initial application:

  • A summary of the project including a statement about its significance, progress made thus far, future plans, and details about how requested funds will be used (sample document 1) ( sample document 2)
  • A detailed total budget, specifying the amount of funding requested from MLA (up to the award maximum) and its purpose. Indicate any other sources of funding you may have already secured. (See Expenses, below, and sample budget forms.)
  • Two letters of recommendation—one for the project and one for yourself
  • A curriculum vita
  • Names and contact information for two additional references
  • Successful award recipients may be asked to provide a concise description of their project suitable for publicity purposes.


 Eligible expenses, typical examples; all require demonstrated relevance to research project:

  • Travel costs to conduct: research at libraries, archives, museums, or other locations housing research material; in-person interviews; field recordings; etc. 
  • Fees for services such as translations, transcriptions, data analysis, etc.
  • Supplies or services to be used specifically for the project: short-term subscription to online survey software, short-term software license, short-term audiovisual equipment rental, postage, etc.

Ineligible expenses, typical examples:
  • Reimbursement for past activity or expenditures
  • Costs associated with attendance of conferences or training workshops (e.g., registration, housing, transportation)
  • Capital expenses/Permanent equipment


Award recipients shall provide a report on their research progress within one year of receipt. Applicants are encouraged to additionally follow up after that time to report publications, online resources, or otherwise completed and accessible projects.

Past recipients and projects

Year Recipient  Publication
2019 Joy M. Doan Constructing a Fuller Narrative of William Grant Still and Classic Hollywood
  Matthew Vest A critical edition of the extant works of Ernst Bachrich (1892-1942)
2018   No award given
2017   No award given
2016 Dr. Sonia Archer-Capuzzo Constructing a Biography of Lev Aronson
2015   [award schedule adjustment]
2014   No award given
2013 Jessica Nay The development of a catalog to the words of Ferdinand Praeger
2012 Bonnie E. (Beth) Fleming
A biography of visionary arts patron Betty Freeman
2011 Anna E. Kijas A bio-bibliography of pianist and composer Teresa Carreño
2010 Mac Nelson The Varga legacy: an oral history
2009 Mark Puente The development of a Music Library Association personnel characteristics survey
2008 Kristine Nelsen
A study of the working musicians of Las Vegas showrooms and lounges from the 1950s through the 1970s
2007 Michelle Lynn Oswell A database for the English lute song from 1597-1622
2006 Christopher Mehrens An investigation of American music criticism sources in the Library of Congress
2005 No award given
2004 D.J. Hoek An updated compilation of Arthur Wenk’s Analyses of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Music
Jennifer Oates
An exploration of Hamish MacCunn resources in Scotland and England
2003 Daniel Boomhower Bärenreiter-Verlag's Bach publications: 1923-1954
2002 John Anderies Tri-College Digital Music Initiative: Developing a core integrated collection
2001 David Hursh A census survey concerning reference services in American academic music libraries
2000 John M. Bewley A study of the scores in both the Ormandy and the Stokowski archives that were marked and/or arranged by them, to analyze their contributions (and those of their copyists)
Gary Dale Vargason, Jr. A bio-bibliography of the composer Ernst Bacon
1999 Mary DuMont A qualitative survey of reference performance at decentralized academic music libraries
1998 Deborah Herman-Morgan and Philip Ponella The role of information technology in the public services offered by academic music libraries in the United States
Kristina Shanton Research on J. Bodewalt Lampe
1997 Jennifer Ottervik A bibliography of operas incorporating jazz elements
1996 No award given
1995 Georgina Binns An annotated bibliography of Australian patriotic and nationalistic songs to 1919
Edward Komara Charlie Patton's 1930 Paramount Records sessions
1994 Felicia Piscitelli A bibliography of Catholic hymnals published in the United States from the Second Vatican Council to the present (1965-1993)
1993 Harriette Hemmasi An augmentation of the prototype music thesaurus
1992 Pamela Bowden Dahlhauser A study of unindexed United States District Court Copyright Records
1991 Alan A. Green Allen Sapp: A Bio-bibliography
1990 David Hunter The preparation of bibliographic descriptions of opera and song books published in England, 1703-1726
1989 Joan Redding A descriptive catalog of the manuscript scores and musical sketches of Lennox Berkeley
1988 David A. Day
An annotated catalog of the printed and manuscript opera and ballet collection of the Théâtre de la Monnaie, housed at the Archives de la ville in Brussels
1987 Robert Richart An annotated bio-bibliography of György Ligeti
1986 Holly Ann Gardinier Bibliographic and historic research of French music and theater almanacs in the Sibley Music Library

Music Library Association 1600 Aspen Commons Suite 100 Middleton, WI 53562

608-831-8200 FAX
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.