One of my responsibilities as Multimedia & Web Services Librarian at City Tech is overseeing the numerous media collections we have. I recently weeded numerous broken VHS cassettes, 3.5″ floppy discs, incompatible CD-ROMs from the 90s, audio cassettes, and currently 8mm and 16mm reel to reel films. What is most interesting is that we still keep our vinyl collection in the library. What separates this particular format from those that have been removed from the collection is that this format still circulates.
From spoken-word to Jazz, from country to rock, from foreign language to instruction to operas, the vinyl collection at City Tech spans over 3000 recordings of various genres. When I first arrived at City Tech I was awe struck at not only the collection, but that it still circulates. It was also in very, very, poor shape…
The stacks of vinyl in the media collection were not entirely organized. It suffered from many problems, some of which we are still working on 8 years later. Some logistical issues include call numbers not in the correct order, damaged items still in the shelves, and the crisis of running out of space were all concerns. Over the course of a few years, college assistants and myself sorted and cleaned the shelves. We re-arranged the vinyl in the correct order and discarded unnecessary duplicates and broken records.
Besides the physical problems we encountered, Monica Berger, City Tech’s cataloger, found numerous inconsistencies with the back-end of media pieces. Previous librarians and staff had erroneously created circulation created records instead of proper cataloging (or copy cataloging) of materials. Currently, we are going over these materials to ensure a proper consistency among all vinyl pieces. This is important so that students and faculty borrowing these materials have a proper access point and can find what they are looking for.
Out of the numerous audio formats that we have, including audio cassettes and CDs, the vinyl is what circulates the most. There have been no requests for audio cassettes, so last year we weeded the collection. The CDs have not circulated in over 6 years, as students turn more towards MP3 formats and streaming media. Along with the vinyl collection, these materials could be loaned for a period of a week. However, what leaves the library doors is the vinyl.
As a avid record collection, I am very pleased to see this. What pleases me more is seeing students checking out vinyl and not knowing how to use it. I feel that there is a greater appreciation of music when you can hold the material in your hand, touch the LP slip cover, and have something tangible that one can feel. You can’t do this with a web page, an eBook, or Spotify. As libraries move towards new electronic models of distribution of materials, something is lost. Vinyl has survived the 8-track, cassette, and CD. I strongly believe that it will survive the Internet stream as well.