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Alma Mahler, cataloging, library catalogs, musicology, archives, information literacy, ACRL Framework, authorship


This cautionary tale outlines how a librarian with an understanding of and respect for cataloging processes was the perfect candidate to be duped by a false attribution in a bibliographic record. In the process of compiling a list of compositions attributed to Alma Mahler for my dissertation, I encountered a handful of works not yet addressed in the scholarship on her compositional work. Despite numerous red flags, and much to my detriment, I invested a great deal in one of these unqualified and unsubstantiated attributions that turned out to be false. In the wake of this false attribution, I have had to come to terms with how my professional identity as librarian has worked to my advantage and detriment as a researcher. I leverage the ACRL frames “Authority is Constructed and Contextual” and “Scholarship as Conversation” to explore this tension.


This article was published in the Music Library Association’s journal, Notes 78, no. 4 (June 2022): 518-537. The version of record is available at not.2022.0041. This material may not be copied or reposted without written permission of MLA.



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