The Wolanski Foundation Project


Paper no 8









List of papers








More of the same or something completely different? 

By Paul Bentley

October 1998


IAML gestation 1967-1971

IAML achievements 1971-1998

Kindred spirits

A new recipe? 


This is an abbreviated version a paper presented at IAML Australia’s 1998 Conference in Sydney. The original paper traversed a number of issues and events, including organisational change, information industry trends, the closure of the Dennis Wolanski Library of the Performing Arts and the establishment of the Wolanski Foundation as contexts for the development of IAML in Australia.

Papers on the role and potential of arts library, archival and museum associations, Merging Arts Information Associations (which attempted to provoke a debate) and Scratching the Surface (which explores some of the issues) were published in 1998 and 1999. A fourth paper in the series, Serving the Arts, (which will attempt to provide some answers after deeper research and reflection), will be published in October 2000. A paper on the Dennis Wolanski Library, From Grand Vision to Corporate Services Casualty, will also be published in 2000.


In 1967, five librarians met informally at the Library Association of Australia Conference to discuss the possible formation of a regional group of IAML. Further tentative steps eventually led to a seminar at Adelaide in 1970, organised by Werner Gallusser and Andrew McCredie, and to the formation of an Australasian branch. The first official meeting of IAML was held a year later in conjunction with the Library Association of Australia conference.

A dominant personality of the 1970 seminar was Roger Covell, who at the time was charged with the task of completing his report on music in Australia. In the report, sixteen recommendations on music library resources, repeated in a separate report, commissioned by AACOBS and assisted by the National Library of Australia, proposed improved coordination at a national level, production of tools to assist rationalisation and access, development of resources in existing libraries and the creation of new libraries.


Since the inaugural meetings, IAML Australia has provided a link to the international body and stimulated the development of music library services in Australia, mainly through the following activities.   

  • Conferences. These have been held biennially since 1971, including a period when they were held as joint conferences with the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the International Association of Sound Archivists (IASA). They have acted as milestones, facilitating the conduct of business, providing opportunities for people to get to know each other and creating forums for the expression of experiences and ideas.

  • Australian projects and publications. Our magnum opus has been The Union Catalogue of Orchestral Performance Materials. Other compilations have included union catalogues of collected scores and serials and a directory of Australian music libraries, published in RISM. The regular publications, Continuo and Intermezzo, have reflected the style, substance and development of IAML.

  • International projects and publications. IAML Australia has played a peripheral, tracking role as a form of participation in the international projects RILM, RISM, RIdIM and RIPM.


IAML Australia’s interest in developing music library services is shared by other organisations here and overseas. Their goals and operations are relevant to our future.     

The parent organisation (IAML) and the Music Library Association (MLA) in the United States both offer frameworks and ideas for local action. The imagination, scope, structure and activities of MLA deserve special scrutiny [see appendix].

The performing arts information management and curatorial industry is represented in other special interest groups in Australia – the Arts Libraries Society/Australia and New Zealand (ARLIS/ANZ), the Performing Arts Special Interest Group of Museums Australia (PASIG) and the Australian Sound Recording Association (ASRA).

Two groups, in particular, have complemented the work of IAML - the Music Reference Group (MRG) and the National Networked Facility for Research in Australian Music (NFRAM).

MRG was formed in 1995 as a

think tank to work on major issues relating to music…generate and empower activities in the areas of collecting, bibliographic control, preservation, access, national coordination and copyright.

The formation of the group was stimulated by two initiatives of the National Library of Australia – the Towards Federation 2001 conference and the Survey of Music Collections in Australian Libraries. Meetings were held in 1995 and 1996.  These forums produced a long list of current music library issues relating to bibliographic control, collection development, networking and collaborative mechanisms, electronic opportunities, preservation, copyright, training and advocacy.

The future of the group is uncertain, although the National Library has indicated informally a willingness to engage in further discussion and, possibly, to contribute to projects generated by the group. 

NFRAM was established with assistance from the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Train’s Research Infrastructure (Equipment & Facilities) Program to

provide modes of access to Australia’s scattered and often hidden documentary sources and to build structures that will provide access to, and knowledge about, all our music-related resources.

NFRAM’s partners include the Canberra School of Music, Australian Centre for the Arts and Technology, Monash Department of Music and Music Resource Centre, Australian Music Centre, La Trobe University School of Arts and Media, National Library of Australia and National Film and Sound Archive. 


Has IAML Australia reached the end of its first sigmoid curve? Does it need to take stock of its role, its relationships and its contribution to the management of music resources in Australia? Do new directions, modus operandi and connections need to be forged? Let me start the ball rolling. 

1.      Make a better blueprint

All organisations, including library associations, need a business plan.  Written language is a useful tool for articulating purpose and direction. Writing a business plan is a useful process for grappling with environments, stakeholder interests, financial issues and marketing possibilities. IAML Australia’s statement of purpose, composed in the 1970s, is lost somewhere in our archives.

There is considerable overlap in the objectives of IAML, MRG and NFRAM. Their roles need to be differentiated. The tributaries may run more powerfully in one river.

The groundwork for a business plan has already been laid. The long list of issues identified at the first Music Reference Group meeting provides a ready-made force field analysis and a starting point for further thinking.

Business processes and decision-making could also be examined.  The system of decision-making through executive responsibility and general meetings provide the operational framework for decision-making in the future, but the information age ushers in new ways for structuring issues, widening the level of participation in the process and speeding up decisions.

2.      Create a bigger family

Multi-discipline and single discipline librarians and libraries in kindred interest groups may benefit from a more streamlined approach to the management of strategies and activities. The time may be ripe to consider some kind of merger with ARLIS/ANZ, PASIG and ASRA - particularly at a state level – or other forms of collaboration.

IAML is represented on the Music Council of Australia. The Music Council of Australia’s directory includes almost 100 music organisations, which in turn represent a larger music constituency. Is there scope for stronger links with other music groups?  Are there more effective ways to transfer our messages through these groups?  How well do we understand music library users and non-users? How would a better understanding of their needs affect what we do? Could IAML serve as a more effective R & D service for member libraries?

3.      Swim with the big fish

Formal links with major institutions that are charged with national coordination and networking responsibilities theoretically create opportunities for more effective representation of the needs of a special interest group. Since the National Library has informally indicated interest in continuing some form of engagement with music libraries, the door is open for a productive relationship - providing a IAML business plan confirms the desirability of the link and demonstrates how the link could work.  

MLA’s participation in peak body organisations and technical committees prompts us to think about possible local applications of the MLA model.

Some state libraries have led the development of music library services in Australia and have played a central part in the history of IAML. Is there a need to strengthen the involvement of all state libraries in the development of music services – possibly through the establishment of state library music nodes? 

 4.      Be clever with money 

IAML Australia sends 80% of its fees overseas to the international body even though the level of participation in the affairs of the international body is minimal and the benefits are questionable. Should the proportions be the other way round?

Taking the lead from the American music librarians, should we create an Australian Music Library Association? The Australian sound archivists adopted this approach over a decade ago, when they formed the Australian Sound Recording Association, rather than continue as an Australian Branch of the International Association of Sound Archivists. The formation of ASRA has not prevented Australians participating in the affairs of IASA.

A merger with kindred special interest groups may increase the membership money pot and create economies in managing publications, Websites and conferences. Arts marketing consortia have demonstrated the value of pooling funds to produce benefits for contributing arts organisations. Is there scope for elevating the importance and contribution of institutional membership and the creation of a IAML slush fund to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes?  

5.      Make the most of people

Much of our organisational thinking in the past has focussed on collections of music and related materials – how we acquire, organise and make them more accessible. The theory of knowledge management encourages us to create greater value out of the people who acquire, organise and use music information by making their knowledge more visible. 

The Music Library Association, which provides links to subject experts on its Website, leads us to the water. 

MLA also provides a model for the practices of recognition and reward. Awards for distinguished service, noteworthy projects, and quality articles and reviews are certainly deserved by some of my colleagues. They could also act as a modest form of incentive to shy Continuo contributors?

6.       Be discontented

If you accept Charles Handy’s advice that forced discontentment is desirable, the tools of quality management and benchmarking offer guidelines for making the most of the exercise. We could look with profit at other organisations of any size in any field, not just organisations representing music librarianship. 

7.      Light the small fires in the darkness

Charles Handy concluded The Empty Rainbow with these thoughts:

Change comes from small initiatives which work, initiatives which, initiated, become the fashion. We cannot wait for great visions from great people, for they are in short supply at the end of history. It is up to us to light our own small fires in the darkness.

Think big, but be prepared to eat the elephant one mouthful at a time. Pop the champagne cork if an ARC grant is secured for a major project, but also create other ways of achieving the same end with smaller amounts of money from other sources.  We did no less, for example, with the Union Catalogue of Performance Materials.

As IAML moves into the 21st century and up the next sigmoid curve, it carries forward the seeds of its future.


  • Continuo, 1970-1996. [Various places]: International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres.

  • Convergence in the Digital Age: challenges for libraries, museums and archives. Seminar outline. IFLA conference 1998. <>

  • Covell, Roger. Music in Australia: needs and prospects. Report fro the Australian council for the Arts. Kensington, NSW: Unisearch, 1970.

  • Handy, Charles. The empty raincoat. Milsons Point, NSW: Arrow Business Books, 1995.

  • International Association of Music Libraries Archives and Documentation Centres Website. <>

  • Library Information Technology Centre Website. <>

  • Music Library Association Website.<>

  • Music Reference Group. Archived minutes of meetings are available from the National Library’s Website – eg <> 

  • Networked Facility for Research in Australian Music. <bttp://>




Standing committee


Education/library school liaison  





Special Committees

Ad hoc chapter  

Special achievement award  

Strategic planning  

Ad hoc task force on conceptualizing a basic manual series  



Music library facilities  



Surveying music library personnel characteristics  


Bibliographical control:


  Descriptive cataloguing;

  MARC formats;

  Subject access  

Liaison/representation/ALA, LITA etc 



Public Libraries 

Reference and Public Libraries: Bibliographic instruction; Electronic reference services 

Information sharing

Reference performance  

Resource sharing and collection development


American Musicological Society, Joint Committee on RISM  

Archives Joint Committee with Uni of Maryland: MLA Archives; Oral history subcommittee  

Music Publishers Association/Major Orchestra Librarians Association  

RILM/US Office Governing Board  



American Library Association  

National Information Standards Organisation (Z39)  


Music OCLS Users Group  

Organisational Liaison Committee  



American music 

New member to attend first meeting  

Music library research 



Distinguished service  

Best bibliography in music  

Best article on music librarianship  

Best review published in Notes  

Extraordinary service to the profession of music librarianship over a short period of time



American music  



Black Music collections  


Contemporary Music  

Film music  

Jazz and popular music  

Jewish music  

Large research libraries  

New members  

Organ music  

Research in Music Librarianship  

Sheet music 

Small academic libraries  

Social responsibilities 

Technical Services  


Women in Black Music  

World Music











MLA List Serve + archive



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