Musser Public Library (MPL) is among the first libraries in the United States to venture out into offering the old-but-new-again technology of long-playing record albums, also known as LPs or “vinyl,” as part of its collections.
The library’s eclectic assortment of about 100 albums by artists ranging from George Strait to Judas Priest to Beyonce, will be introduced in September and housed near the first-floor service desk.
The music falls into three basic categories: Jazz/Blues, Country/Folk and Rock/Pop.
Patrons need not worry if they do not have a record player as MPL will also offer two portable record players for checkout. The devices will be kept at the service desk.
Reference Librarian Emma Stoffer is currently cataloging the records as they arrive. Stoffer said the library will grow the collection as needed.
“Patrons are welcome to suggest new titles for the library to obtain, but newer releases are more likely to be available,” Library Director Bobby Fiedler said.
While Stoffer said that LP collections are enjoying “a resurgence in the library world” in large metropolitan areas (notably Brooklyn, N.Y. and Detroit), it appears MPL is the first library in Iowa to offer them.
Fiedler decided to explore the idea of reintroducing vinyl at MPL when he read about vinyl outselling compact discs in 2022 – the first year since CDs were introduced to the United States in 1983.
‘We saw that news and started looking to see what other libraries were doing,” Fiedler said. “Because we found out that not a lot of other libraries are offering vinyl – and learned that our distributor could send us records – we decided to offer them to our patrons.
“The library is glad to provide ways to slow down and enjoy the simpler things in life. I find I enjoy the music I am listening to more when I have to handle a record and turn it over halfway through,” Fiedler said, citing the similar tactile pleasures of other older technology such as Polaroid cameras, which have also enjoyed a comeback.
The checkout period for records will be two weeks even though the CD checkout period is only one week. The records can also be renewed another two weeks as long as another patron has not put a hold on the material.
“The logic is that records are not portable like CDs,” Stoffer said. “You cannot play them in your car. You have to take them home to listen. We want to give patrons enough time to listen to them.”
Only Musser Public Library patrons can put holds on LPs from our collection. Records are not available for delivery; the patron must come into the library to get them. Those who check out LPs and record players will receive instructions to keep the items in working order.