Founded in 1983 as the Major Orchestra Librarians' Association, MOLA's mission is to facilitate communication between professional performance librarians, educate and assist them in providing service to their organizations, provide support and resources to the performing arts, and work with publishers to achieve the highest standards in music performance materials.
The first MOLA meeting was held in Philadelphia in 1983, when twenty-five librarians from the United States and Canada met for a day to discuss issues of common interest. Today MOLA is an international, not-for-profit corporation spanning the globe with a membership
of over 300 professional performing arts organizations, represented by more than 450 performance librarians from symphony orchestras, opera and ballet companies, music academies, professional bands and ensembles in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and Australasia.
Communication within MOLA
Members can stay in contact with each other in various ways. An annual conference
is hosted by a member orchestra and features presentations, workshops, round-table discussions, networking opportunities, and numerous other valuable resources.
The quarterly newsletter Marcato addresses many issues of common interest in its feature stories, keeps members informed on new additions to the errata database and provides updates from the special committees within MOLA.
MOLA's website (www.mola-inc.org) provides comprehensive specialist resources to enable librarians to better perform their duties. A member's discussion forum, errata database and resource sharing enable a global pooling of information and provide support to an ever-expanding group of library professionals.
In particular, MOLA's errata database enables a great increase in efficiency for its busy members. Even the most traditional and often-performed works, such as Beethoven symphonies, can have errors in the scores and parts. Through the use of errata lists, librarians can save countless hours of ensemble rehearsal time by correcting errors without tediously having to compare each part to the score.Communication with Publishers
Another benefit of MOLA has been the creation of a unified voice in making the concerns of orchestra librarians known to music publishers. MOLA periodically invites representatives from music publishers to its annual conferences in order to address the publication and condition of printed orchestral materials. This collaborative effort has led to the formation of the MOLA/Publisher Committee. MOLA has also created a brochure entitled "MOLA Guidelines for Music Preparation
."Other Areas of Interest
Other areas of interest addressed by MOLA include copyright law and performing rights issues, the use of public domain works, selecting editions, cataloging, touring, computerized databases, conductors' and soloists' music, archiving and preservation, budgeting, library operations, music editing and engraving software, and specialized library equipment such as photocopiers, paper and binding machines. Being an Orchestra Librarian
There are currently no degree programs for orchestral librarians. However, orchestra librarians need to have a broad range of training. Many librarians acquire the necessary working knowledge either through apprentice/internship situations or on-the-job training. In the past, librarians were often members of the orchestra or were retired from the ranks of the orchestra into the library. Today, musicians are choosing the profession as a first career. While some librarians are still players in their orchestras, it is most common for the library position to be full-time at the major orchestra level.
When surveyed about what they consider to be the most important part of their job, orchestra librarians responded, "To have the right music in the right place at the right time." When asked how they view their role in the orchestra, they replied, "As musicians!"
A successful performance librarian's skillset and knowledge base may comprise the following "competencies" necessary for job duties and responsibilities. These can be obtained through education or work experience/training, though there is no formal degree requirement or program for this profession.
The inferred set of core competencies:
- Musical knowledge (score reading skills, transpositions, repertoire knowledge, instrumentation)
- Copyright and licensing
- Administrative skills (project/time management, supervisory)
- Efficient interpersonal communication
- Research and reference
- Exceptional organizational skills with attention to detail
- Tact and sensitivity
- Curiosity and tenacity
Association with Music Service Organizations
MOLA is represented on the MLA (Music Library Association) / MPA (Music Publishers' Association) / MOLA Joint Committee. In addition, MOLA has cultivated relationships with other music service organizations, including the International Association of Music Librarians, the League of American Orchestras, the American Federation of Musicians, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, the Regional Orchestra Players' Association, and Nordisk Orkesterbiblioteksunion/Nordic Orchestra Library Association.
(updated 21 October 2020)