Monday, May 9, 2011

The Library of Congress's record collection

There is an amazing place in Virginia, an old underground Federal Reserve repository where cash was stashed in case of a nuclear attack (although one wonders how much cash would be worth after being nuked: they should have been storing canned goods, water, and some of those Road Warrior vehicles if you ask me). Nowadays it's the home of six million items in the Library of Congress, specifically music and film. Housing it, maintaining it, and most of all sharing it, is not so easy.

Reporter Randy Lewis of the L.A. Times writes, "The breadth of the library's stock is impossible to summarize. But in addition to copies of every published recording registered for protection in recent decades with the U.S. Copyright Office, the library has acquired personal collections from classical music giants such as Leonard Bernstein, composer Aaron Copland and pianist Wanda Landowska, in some cases including never-released test pressings, as well as every 78 rpm disc recorded by jazz titan Jelly Roll Morton. It possesses tens of thousands of lacquer discs from NBC Radio, including the network's complete archive of World War II coverage; documentarian Tony Schwartz's trove of audio recordings from the streets of New York; and half a million LPs, among which are dozens of surf and hot-rod music-themed discs that Capitol Records issued in the '60s to capitalize on those crazes, including 'Hot Rod Hootenanny' by Mr. Gasser & the Weirdos, with cover art and songs co-written by fabled car designer Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth... The question is how many people will have access to it."

Read the whole story at Library of Congress builds the record collection of the century.

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