To commemorate my trip to Memphis, TN, including a trip to Sun Studio, I thought I'd show a little love to library vinyl record collections.
I think it's safe to say that most libraries ditched their vinyl record collections around the time of the cassette tape, but there were a few libraries who held onto these gems presumably for archival purposes.
But with the budget and space constraints of the last decade, even those libraries that initially held onto their record collections started to shed them. As one librarian noted in 2010, "[w]e had noticed over the last several years that the vinyl is not circulating like our CD’s are, or our DVD's, and what we wanted to do was make space for new items and get them into the hands of people who would really appreciate them." So they held a sale that I wish I would have been around for. "[T]he Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library in Tennessee has sold its collection of rare vinyl record albums for $1 a piece. Some of the vinyl was valued at a thousand times as much. The library staff was obviously clueless of its value."
This may have been a little shortsighted, however, because the music industry has recently seen a rise in vinyl record sales. "These days, every major label and many smaller ones are releasing vinyl, and most major new releases have a vinyl version, leading to a spate of new pressing plants ... thanks largely to an audience of record collectors, many born after CDs were introduced in the 1980s."
It is sad to see the small library vinyl record collections go the way of the 8-track (into oblivion), but do not fear! The Library of Congress has started the "Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, a 45-acre vault and state-of-the-art preservation and restoration facility on Virginia's Mt. Pony. It's here that a recent donation from Universal Music Group, nearly a quarter-million master recordings by musicians including Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Bing Crosby, is now permanently housed."
I am one of those record collectors born after CDs were introduced who happens to prefer vinyl over any other medium. Long live the vinyl record!
Frank Beacham's Journal -- What Were They Thinking? Library Tosses Rare Vinyl Record Collection
NYTimes -- Vinyl Records Are Making a Comeback