Strategic Plan: Advocacy

Goal Area: Advocacy

Strategic Planning Implementation Team 3 Draft Report

Goal Statement: MLA promotes and supports the equitable and ethical use of music in learning, it participates in the evolution of scholarly communication, and its official positions on these issues are widely known and influential.

Objective 1: Develop and disseminate official positions on intellectual property, access, and scholarly communication issues.

For 2012–2013

  1. Gather all existing official MLA statements, review them for currency, and collocate them in a prominent location on the MLA website. (highest priority)


Existing official statements are not easily accessible. For example, the Board in 2005 endorsed the MLA Instruction Committee’s statement on "Information Literacy Standards for Music Undergraduates,” an important advocacy initiative in support of the equitable and ethical use of music in learning, yet this information is buried in the Board minutes, not linked from MLA’s website (that we can find). Other examples of existing official positions include MLA’s statements about Pre-1972 Sound Recordings and Federal Copyright Protection, Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies, Section 108 of Title 17 Copyright Law, Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies, and the Taiga Forum Provocative Statements. The Board minutes, annual reports, and MLA website should be examined for other official position statements already in existence.


  1. Charge individuals or groups within MLA to actively engage with the ALA Washington Office, the U.S. Copyright Office, relevant committees in statehouses, members of Congress, and allied organizations such as EFF, Public Knowledge, GNU Foundation, for the purpose of developing official positions on emerging intellectual property issues which have an impact on the operations or users of music collections, including a statement on first sale rights. (high priority)


The MLA Legislation Committee already has some charge to engage outside groups in this manner, and the committee chair has traditionally served as a spokesperson for MLA with allied organizations and for the purposes of giving testimony. However, this is not explicitly part of the charge of the committee (or the chair), since the charge is narrowly written to charge the committee with writing position papers, but not with face-to-face negotiation, testimony, and the like. If the latter are part of the committee chair's ex officio duties, this should be explicitly stated in the charge.


  1. Re-examine the Administrative Structure for ways to make MLA’s advocacy initiatives and responses more flexible and timely.(high priority)Considerations to include (among others): create smaller (leaner, meaner) committees with specific advocacy charges; or create a special officer for advocacy(see also Objective 2, Action Step 3, option 2 under rationale).


The Legislation Committee has been in some ways the de facto advocacy committee for MLA. However, many issues brought up by members, which might require a statement on behalf of the organization, do not fall naturally within the scope of the Legislation Committee's charge, even though there also does not seem to be a committee whose charge they do fall under. An example of this is the controversy over the recent TAIGA statements. If there were multiple entities charged with aspects of advocacy (with good communication lines), it might enable greater attention to more current issues.


  1. Empower the individuals or groups within MLA who are so charged to act on the Board’s behalf, once the Board’s intent on an issue has been established.(high priority)


Official advocates within MLA need the flexibility to act in a timely way on urgent advocacy issues, particularly regarding press releases, legislative action, etc, without waiting for the full Board to approve exact wording of each press release, court testimony, or other statement. In the case of court filings, it is not always possible to subject documents to a determinative board review prior to submission. An example of how this might work can be found in the ALA's structure, where the Council approves a resolution, and that resolution empowers their units to act on their behalf. Clearly, the ALA and MLA do not work on the same scale (we do not have any full-time staff; they have dozens), but this process could be scaled to work with MLA's structure.


  1. Identify attorneys who are library advocates and copyright specialists whose opinion can be sought on an as-needed basis when it is determined that an official position should be vetted by an attorney, and develop criteria for deciding whether a given draft official statement should be vetted by an attorney.(medium priority)

Objective 2: Enable and encourage members’ individual advocacy efforts.


For 2012–2013:

  1. Identify specific advocacy issues relevant to music librarians or those who work with music materials in library settings, and who may need or wish to advocate at their own institutions, with vendors, with publishers, or in public discourse.(highest priority)
  2. Charge an individual or group with ongoing (rather than ad hoc) responsibility to identify specific advocacy issues (legislative and otherwise) which are relevant to music librarians. This action needs to be sustained (and therefore sustainable) throughout the life of the organization. Options to consider:
    1. Assign this responsibility to the Planning and Reports Officer and the Planning
    2. Committee, with the expectation that every report to the Board would include a
    3. statement of outcomes about identifying advocacy issues. This option has the added benefit of easily tracking advocacy issues and efforts that arise in the various committees, since this officer gathers the reports and communicates with committee chairs;
    4. Create a Special Officer position for Advocacy whose assignment would include the identification of advocacy issues as part of a larger charge to implement, or delegate and track implementation of, all the action steps under the Advocacy goal statement of the strategic plan.
  3. Design member awareness and education initiatives for each advocacy issue identified by the preceding action step.(high priority)

Initiatives might include:

  1. A plan to write boilerplate statements on specific issues that MLA members can access and use as needed for individual advocacy, including statements (for example) about the value of hiring music specialists in libraries; how the unique needs of music users translate into music library services, the value of retaining collections of outmoded formats such as vinyl discs. We note the existence at the moment of a special Task Force on Branch Libraries, for example, whose charge is advocacy-related, as is the charge of another current ad hoc group on Music Discovery Requirements. Our suggested action steps are meant to translate the recommendations of any such ad hoc task force into easily-accessed, immediately useful tools for MLA members over the long term, with permanent support identified in the MLA administrative structure and technology infrastructure.
  2. Plan to create and maintain an internal messaging or alerting service targeting MLA members to raise members’ awareness about timely issues and notify members when their advocacy is called for, for example when to contact legislators about an upcoming vote.
  3. Plan to develop and deliver relevant pre-conference sessions at annual meetings and incorporate advocacy education into conference sessions (e.g., Q/A (Ask Copyright?) or Hot Topics).
  4. Plan to develop and post online tutorials, toolkits, and other appropriate educational content.
  5. Commission studies and white papers about issues that require specialized expertise or in-depth study.
  6. Plan and design a Music Library Association Advocacy Clearinghouse that incorporates all of the content listed above, modeled on ALA’s Advocacy Clearinghouse website:
  7. Plan a way to systematically and regularly gather statistical data about music libraries; and (B), by September 2013: Regularly make this data available to MLA members. (high priority)


Music materials in libraries present unique challenges to administer. Music librarians need data to support requests for staffing, acquisition budgets, shelving, binding/preservation, unique circulation services, discreet facilities such as branch libraries, acquisition of print materials (e.g., that can be placed on a music stand). A database available to, and perhaps updated in real time by, MLA members that could be mined for crosstab data comparing staffing with collection size, type or location of collection, or size of user community, for example, could be used to answer questions from local administrators as they come up, or to help with local strategic/tactical planning processes, plus would enhance the value of MLA membership, perhaps motivating people to join or renew. Suggested implementation steps: appoint task force to study data formerly gathered by old Statistics Committee as well as data music librarians

  1. Annually provide to NASM; conduct survey of MLA members to determine what data would be useful to them; investigate database options; report back to Board with implementation proposal.
  2. Implement the member awareness and education initiatives designated above.(high priority)


By 2015:

  1. Systematically and regularly gather data about the music publishing and sound recording industries, and make that data available to MLA members. (medium priority)


By tracking and keeping members informed about trends in publishing, MLA will equip its members to support the case (with their local administrators) that publishing trends for music formats are not identical to those for books and serials. An additional benefit would be to enhance the value of MLA membership, encouraging people to join or renew.

Objective 3: Publish open access content on the web.

For 2012-2013 (for implementation into the programming process for the 2013 Annual Meeting):

  1. Investigate options and recommend a plan for systematically posting conference (annual meeting) presentations and/or proceedings to the MLA website, including ramifications of audio and/or video recordings of sessions.(highest priority)

Considerations might include:incorporating in the annual Call for Programs the stipulation that all conference materials (speaking notes, presentation slides, etc.) will be made available to MLA for publication on the Internet under a Creative Commons license; stipulating that slide presentations be submitted and made available in advance of sessions and include clean speaking points; post-session and post-conference surveys to determine which sessions are posted to the website; potential redundancy with Newsletter session summaries.

  1. Identify, collocate, and market existing MLA open-access content, such as the MLA Copyright Website (which operates under a Creative Commons CCBY- SA license), the Metadata Standards and Guidelines for Digital Audio, Music Preservation Resources website, and Career Resources in Music Librarianship among many other examples of open-access content created by MLA. Consider a Creative Commons license for each open access resource identified via the preceding action step. Develop and implement a plan to market each resource to appropriate target audiences.(high priority)
  2. Consider a Creative Commons license for each web-based publication (Newsletter, Music Cataloging Bulletin, etc.)(high priority)

By 2015:

  1. Study the options for and ramifications of issuing open-access peer reviewed monographic publications on the Internet. Report to the Board and broadly to the membership with recommendations. (medium priority)
  2. Investigate options for and ramifications of migrating to or offering an open access model forNotes. Report to the board and broadly to the membership with recommendations. (high priority)
  3. Investigate and/or promote options available to libraries and archives for acquisition of a locally held and locally served digital version ofNotes(all issues) for permanent deep archiving as well as user access, keeping in mind potential impact on MLA's revenues. (medium priority)


Recent discussions of first sale rights with respect to digital content (especially recordings) leads us to wonder whether we should be setting an example with our own content. If the digital version ofNotesis subject to licensing terms which require subscribers to maintain a subscription or lose access to all back issues, then libraries are forced either to retain redundant print copies of the journal or to maintain a license in perpetuity to retain the content. MLA seems to prefer an ownership model with respect to material libraries acquire (for good reason), so perhaps we should offer an ownership model for digital versions ofNotes.

Objective 4: Increase legislators’, publishers’ and vendors’ awareness of the Association’s official positions on intellectual property issues.

For 2012–2013:

  1. Charge all MLA committees with documenting their significant advocacy activities in the MLA Newsletter or other relevant venues and publicize the Newsletter or other venues aggressively.(highest priority)
  2. Identify one or more individuals or groups within MLA who will be charged with specific advocacy activities, and empower those individuals and groups to act on behalf of the Board and MLA in a timely and effective manner. Charge these individuals and groups to report regularly on the effect of their advocacy initiatives on relevant legislative and other outcomes (such as invitations to testify before Congress, invitations to participate in high-level negotiations, citations of MLA positions in important documents, etc.).(high priority)
  3. Issue press releases widely when MLA takes a position on an issue or takes a significant step toward accomplishing one of its advocacy goals.(high priority)
  4. MLA members regularly contact their legislators about issues important to MLA (create and maintain an internal messaging or alerting service to raise members’ awareness about timely issues and notify members when their advocacy is called for).(high priority)
  5. Investigate the possibility of hiring professional lobbyists for key pieces of legislation, or to consult periodically on key issues.(medium priority)
  6. Investigate MLA retaining an attorney to write key position statements or file amicus briefs on selected key issues.(medium priority)


By 2015:

  1. Create a mechanism to educate MLA’s organizational liaisons about advocacy issues relevant to their liaison assignments and charge the liaisons to advocate for those issues with their respective organizations. (medium priority)

Objective 5: Promote and encourage the use of music in all disciplines.

For 2012–2013:

  1. Charge the Publications Committee to commission a monograph or collection of essays about using music (and music resources) in the teaching of other disciplines, and for promotion in the broader institutional or local community.(highest priority)
  2. Charge the Program Committee to call for conference presentations about the use of music (and music resources) in non-music classes and publications, and for promotion in the broader institutional or local community.(high priority)
  3. Charge the Outreach and/or Education and/or Instruction Committees (or other appropriate person or group) with investigating the current status of curricular requirements for music bibliography and library research in music schools (e.g., reviewing NASM and CMS documentation/guidelines as well as gathering school-specific curricular data), and for music-specific curricula in library (LIS) schools. Intended outcomes for 2013 and after: an increase in music bibliography instruction in music programs, increased guest lectures and workshops on music issues in LIS programs, and MLA engagement with curriculum planners in both fields.(high priority)
  4. Develop a clearinghouse where educators can share syllabi/lesson/ outreach plans for using music (and music resources) in the teaching of other disciplines.(medium priority)

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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.