The Theatre Library Association Professional Awards Committee is honored to announce the winners of the 2016 Louis Rachow Distinguished Service in Performing Arts Librarianship Award and Brooks McNamara Scholarship. The 2016 Louis Rachow Award goes to Rob Melton, who has had a stellar career as a performing arts information professional, and has been associated with TLA since 1979. The 2016 McNamara Scholarship has been awarded to Megan Mitchell, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA. The theme for the 2016 scholarship essay was: “How have you prepared for a career as a performing arts library/archives professional?” Congratulations to the winners!
Rob was first bitten by the theater bug at the age of eight, when he saw college productions of Oklahoma! and Carousel in the small Southern Appalachian town where he grew up. As an undergraduate at Duke University, he majored in English with an emphasis on dramatic literature, was active in Duke Players, and was an apprentice assistant manager for Summer Theater. After completing a master’s degree at Duke, he decided to attend the Columbia University School of Library Service.
Rob spent 37 years building collections, teaching, and providing reference assistance and research consultations for faculty and students at two institutions that offer both Ph.D. degrees in theater and B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees in a full range of performance, design, directing, choreography, play- and screen-writing, and stage management specializations. From 1979 until 2001, he worked at the University of Kansas, where he also acted in, directed, and dramaturged several productions. He moved to the University of California, San Diego, in early 2001. There, he revived and for almost a decade convened the University of California Performing Arts Bibliographers Group; in 2002, he was appointed Curator of the Archive for New Poetry, an internationally known repository of manuscripts, recordings, books, little magazines and broadsides documenting experimental movements in U.S. poetry since 1945.
Rob joined TLA in 1979. His activities within TLA have included two terms on the Executive Board (2002-2007), co-chairing and later chairing the Publications Committee (starting in 2004) and continuing as a member since, and serving for 4 years on the George Freedley Book Award Jury (2010-2013).
Rob retired on July 1, 2016 and is enjoying opportunities to see even more productions, and traveling and attending concerts with his husband, Vic Cardell, who had a distinguished 40-year career as a music librarian.
Scholar of experimental and electronic music forms, Megan Mitchell got her start in all things music as a young jazz and musical theatre vocalist. Over the years, her passion for music exponentially morphed into an all-encompassing lifestyle. She composes music under the moniker, Cruel Diagonals, makes field recordings, DJs around Seattle under the name, DJ Degenerate, and collects vinyl. She has also been working on the project, Many Many Women, which indexes left-of-field female, non-binary, and trans composers. She plans to develop this index into a fully searchable database to improve visibility of marginalized composers in the experimental genres. Mitchell has worked for the greater part of 2016 in the Ethnomusicology Archives at the University of Washington as an archives assistant, and has recently accepted a contract position as audio archivist for the renowned Seattle producer, Randall Dunn. Mitchell is pursuing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA.