Commit Library Warfare
Me circa 2002. Yes, I'm in my PJs, was never without those giant headphones (I have better big ones now, need to break them out for the winter) and look how short and punk my hair was! It was longer in the front.)
I have to say I wasn't psyched at all when I found out we had to take a class on Library Management. Zzzz. But like a bolt of lightning, inspiration struck me what project I could do, and now I'm super amped on it. I'm going to write a grant proposal to get my college radio station, WKDU, a cataloguing system for their record library. WKDU is probably the only really non-commerical, brick-and-mortar radio station out there. We do not have any commercials or underwriting, nor do we play any music that you can hear on other stations (and you wonder how I became a music snob!) Of course for now it's all hypothetical, but it could be very useful for them in the future if I do a good job, so I'm determined to do some serious research here.
I got some estimates from my boy Adam at KDU about how much we actually even have in the library, and they really are just estimates but there is way more than I thought. For example:
12" vinyl LPs = 30,000
7" vinyl = 10,000
10" vinyl = 50-100 (I didn't even know 100 10" records were even ever pressed!)
CDs (although I'm focusing on vinyl for this project, I wanted to know) = about 50k
And this collection is completely unorganized. It is in vague, dubiously alphabetical order. That system works fairly well for CDs as you can read the spines of the CD at a glance, but for our records, the general consensus is that no one knows what we really have. Nor is it remotely possible to say, search for a punk record from 1981 from a band that begins with a W. So I'm going to write my fake grant to get them a cataloguing system, an extra server, and the manhours for the initial setup. It's all a pipedream but the research could at least be useful to them down the line and I think I'll learn a ton. I'm meeting with University of the Arts music librarian Dr. Mark Germer on Monday to look at their collection and how it's set up. Also I sent out a survey to the KDU DJ mailing list, here is a sampling of some of the responses I got:
"Due to theft, there are some glaring holes in the record library. This is especially apparent with the early Revelation catalog, and some of the "bigger" early straight edge bands like SSD and Uniform Choice (Staring into the Sun, but not Screaming for Change? There's a problem there!) Also, there is no definitive list of what is actually in the library. A lot of times, you'll say, "I wonder if we have ________," and then you have to just dig for it unless you've seen it there before. Also, a lot of people suck at putting things back in their proper places which makes nearly every visit for a popular LP something of a dig."
"The record library could use some monthly alphabetizing. things get misfiled kind of often. it would also be nice if there was a database accessible to all DJs, so that DJs could search to determine whether or not a certain record ever existed in the library. it could also stand to have some additional lighting, and a dust job."
"After putting in all my new DJ hours in the record library, I can't understand how some of the DJs passed 1st grade."
And the real reason why this project is super exciting to me is summed up by one respondant:
"It's the most important thing possible. For kids involved with punk rock, it creates an archive of our history. Records, zines, live tapes, and photographs are all little pieces and memories that need to be collected and protected. With my own record collection, I see it this way: As long as I have a copy of Break Down the Walls in my posession, no matter what happens in the rest of the world, it'll never be completely forgotten. As stupid as that sounds, I think it's important for KDU to maintain that sort of mentality. As long as we maintain this library, there's a chance in the future some kid with no clue will pick up a Bad Brains record and have his life totally changed."
I hope I can manage to put into this project what it needs to be worth something. I would love to be able to give something back to KDU. But for now, I would settle for an A.