In a Corner of The Clarice Rests a Library Full of Music History

As he meanders through the shelves of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Interim Director Stephen Henry has the air of an inquisitive librarian about him.

Stopping briefly to view a cardboard box of vinyl singles that charted in the 1950s and ‘60s, Henry approaches a shelf with the eye of a treasure hunter.

With the turn of a key and the press of a button, the shelf shifts sideways, and Henry steps in to retrieve what he was looking for: “The Rise and Fall of Paramount, Volume One,” an enormous collection of music and images from the 1910s and early ‘30s co-released by Jack White’s Third Man Records. The room is full of such goodies – recently added was volume one of the complete Bob Dylan album collection, released by Columbia Records.

And the best part is that, with enough consideration and planning ahead, this collection is available for student use – and not just for music majors, either.

“We buy anything that supports the research or the learning that goes on in this building and that includes popular music,” Henry said.

Students can search the library’s expansive music collection using WorldCat, the online library catalogue search tool available on the university library’s website.

That collection includes CDs like the Dylan collection, records like the Paramount collection, tape recordings of university bands and possibly even a few wax cylinders, Henry said.

Freshman journalism major Steven Alfandary, said he felt the performing arts library is important because “it exposes people to different types of music [in] a convenient setting.”

But the library’s one downside may be that students are unable to download the available music onto portable devices.

“College people like on-the-go music,” Alfandary said.

Henry said downloadable digital audio will not be available until copyright laws surrounding iTunes purchases are more equitable for libraries.

While the transfer to digital is unlikely to occur soon, Henry and his staff said they are looking for student feedback, especially with regard to their library needs.

“We are really in a period of transition now, and we’re rethinking how we run the library,” he said.

There’s a lot of new things going on in that corner of The Clarice, Henry said, so if students haven’t seen the library recently, “they should come take a look.”

writersblocheadshots15Evan Berkowitz is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at evanjberkowitz@gmail.com.

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