Monday, January 28, 2008

Devalued Vinyl: Station Library Sold off to Fund Concert

When I was at WHRC at Haverford College in the 1980s we worked really hard to beef up our collection of music and after a few years had a pretty decent selection of new stuff, adding to all the interesting vintage artifacts in the record library. So, it was incredibly depressing when I visited WHRC in 2004 to learn that a number of years prior WHRC staff opted to sell off their record collection in order to fund a concert by the Roots. I’m still in a state of shock about that. When I visited, they basically had no vinyl left at the station and had a very small CD collection. When I was at WHRC we had records from the 1940s and 1950s that we enjoyed checking out from time to time. They’re all gone. Also, when I was co-Music Director at WHRC, my partner and I spent a lot of energy and time fostering record label relationships so that we could get sent music that we were excited about at the time. All of those records are gone. The vinyl they did have was a complete mess, with torn and water-damaged packaging, and not organized. I peeked through the dilapidated shelves and saw a lot of bad 70s stuff, some old Christmas records and a Peter Himmelman LP that might have been from our era.

I've since learned that when I visited in 2004 it had only been about 5 years since the station had been revived and that for a time the records were in storage shared by dining hall staff, so much of the collection may have been trashed early on for all I know. The members of the WHRC staff who I met in 2004 had nothing to do with the vinyl sell-off and were trying their hardest to rebuild their music collection, much like we did 15-20 years earlier. But, it still saddened me that there hadn't been an archivist or consistent station manager who could have maintained all of that history instead of selling it off.

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