The Music Library Association (MLA) Reference and Public Service Committee's Bibliographic Instruction Subcommittee has created a set of information literacy instructional objectives for undergraduate music majors based upon "Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education" (ACRL Standards) developed by the American Library Association's (ALA) Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). (1) The subcommittee began by first attempting to adapt the five ACRL competency standards for music, but later decided that instructional objectives would be more specific, concrete, measurable, and thus potentially more useful for music information literacy efforts. The instructional objectives presented below (MLA Objectives) include the full text of ACRL's document with music-specific objectives inserted as needed, and have been approved by both the MLA Board of Directors and ACRL. This introduction explains the need for a music-specific information literacy tool; describes the subcommittee's goals, models, and process; and concludes with a few suggestions for implementation.
Music librarians, generalist librarians, and music faculty have been teaching college students how to use music libraries and the information in them for decades. This instruction takes place in one-on-one or group settings (both small and large) in the library, in the classroom, and, more recently, in the online environment. It takes the form of face-to-face instruction, annotated bibliographies, pathfinders, library scavenger hunts, research papers, online tutorials, chat, and instant messaging.
The collections involved range from small music collections that are integrated into main campus libraries to large, independent music libraries that hold hundreds of thousands of volumes. Some students are performers who want to play their instruments at the highest possible level. Others are budding educators or musicologists with strong interests in particular areas of knowledge. Some instruction is delivered in "one-shot" sessions that may be less than an hour long, with little opportunity for follow-up. Other circumstances allow for semester-long courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Expectations vary widely from just knowing that there is a music collection to writing documented research papers on obscure topics.
Despite this diversity of objectives, approaches, and resources, music librarians have always sought common ground. We want to know what others are teaching, how they are teaching, and what we might learn from their methods. We want assurance that we are teaching the right things and that our students will be prepared as they go on to the next stage of their lives, professional or educational.
Evidence of this search for common ground can be found in the prevalence of programs on user instruction at MLA conferences, and in a stream of publications examining what and how we teach (and how the students learn). (2) The present set of instructional objectives concentrates on what we teach, rather than how, and points to a common set of skills for undergraduate music students.
Perhaps the first attempt to develop commonly accepted standards for library instruction in music was "Bibliographic Competencies for Music Students at an Undergraduate Level," published in Notes in 1984 by members of the Bibliographic Instruction Subcommittee of the Midwest Chapter of MLA....