Archives: About the Collection

Collection Scope and Contents

The Music Library Association Archives contains the official records of the Music Library Association (MLA) that document the history, activities, and publications of the organization since its founding in 1931. MLA is the professional association for music libraries and librarianship in the United States with the mission to provide a professional forum for librarians, archivists, and others who support and preserve musical heritage. Formats in the records include manuscripts, financial ledgers, printed publications, sound recordings, oral histories, photographs, scrapbooks, microfilm, realia, born-digital files, musical scores, and artwork. The collection also contains records of select current and former regional chapters, including the Atlantic, Greater New York, and New England Chapters. Records of the California, Midwest, Mountain-Plains, New York State-Ontario, Pacific Northwest, Southeast, and Texas Chapters are housed in repositories within their geographic areas.

Research Value 

Records in the MLA Archives not only document the organization itself, but also the history of music librarianship in the United States and the scholarly discourses of librarianship, musicology, music education, contemporary music, music publishing, and the music trade. The records of MLA board members and MLA's quarterly journal Notes, as well as MLA's oral histories, are of especial value to researchers both within and outside of MLA who are interested in these fields.

Online Exhibit

In July 2017, the MLA Archivist curated an online exhibit, Connecting the Dots: Henry and Sidney Cowell Writings in the Music Library Association Archives, to advocate the value of the collection to users outside of MLA. The University of Maryland Libraries generously hosts this online exhibit. This exhibit serves to educate the public about MLA's rich history, connections to luminaries in modern music history, and inspire researchers to use the records for new scholarship.

Finding Aids

  • Collection-level finding aid
    • This document includes the collection arrangement, custodial history, processing information, access information, and history of the organization.
  • Record Group 4: Oral Histories
    • This record group contains recordings and transcripts of oral histories. Interviewees and interviewers are all MLA members, both living and deceased. Formats include compact discs, cassette tapes, paper transcripts of interviews, and release documents related to the interviews.
  • Record Group 6: Notes
    • This record group documents the history of Notes as a musicological, artistic, and business enterprise that was and continues to be central to the identity of the Music Library Association.


For questions related to performing research in the MLA Archives please contact:

Special Collections in Performing Arts
Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library/SCPA
University of Maryland
tel 301.405.9220 fax 301.314.7170 

For more information about the MLA Archives please contact:

Melissa E. Wertheimer
MLA Archivist / Music Reference Specialist, Library of Congress



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.