Vinyl collection gives patrons a chance to revel in analog music
There is a line of thought in the audio community that the purest reproduction of recorded sound comes from vinyl albums, not the digital representations of music offered through compact discs or mp3 downloads.
For analog music lovers who share that belief, or those who get nostalgic over how music used to be heard, Saukville’s Oscar Grady Library has great news.
The library is now loaning vinyl LPs. It is thought to be the only library in the area to be doing so.
Martin Morante of the library staff explained that the impetus for the album collection came from a familiar benefactor.
“The original donation of items, which was 100 albums, came from James Peterson,” Morante said.
Peterson has donated thousands of photographs and artifacts to the library in what is now collectively known as the James and John Peterson Collection.
Morante said the donated records were from Peterson’s personal collection. A wide array of popular artists is covered by the gift, including Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel, the Rolling Stones and Mitch Miller.
“Despite being in pretty good to fair condition, these albums are not what collectors would label as ‘pristine,’” Morante said.
The Peterson albums were first made available in December, but the library’s vinyl offerings continue to grow.
After accepting the collection, the library decided to open the door to other patrons who wanted to donate albums.
Each of the donated albums had to be catalogued and placed in a protective plastic sleeve. A record player has been placed near the circulation desk to draw attention to the musical selection.
Some of the donated albums that have not held up to the trials of time — including being tainted by mold, broken or badly scratched — had to be discarded.
“Hopefully we will continue to receive interesting records that will trigger a response from our patrons,” Morante said.
He said patrons have regularly sorted through the collection, often breaking into a smile when finding a favorite album that launch memories.
“It is also nice to see kids coming and asking their parents about what albums are,” Morante said, noting the younger generation thinks even CDs are old technology.
As for Morante, the records allow him to drift back to his youth in Uruguay.
“We were lucky enough to have an old record player at home. Even now, I remember having heard an album by the Beatles for the first time in my life,” he said.
“It was — and is — a moment heavily ingrained in my memory. The beauty of the album spinning with the soothing movement of it while the first notes on the guitar of ‘Norwegian Wood’ came out of the speakers was as magical as it can get. Not having to hit the triangle (play button) on the computer can equal that.”
Morante invited patrons to see what kind of visceral feeling they get from listening to music on vinyl.
“There are certain feelings that are only awakened once you let the needle lay in the track or simply enjoy music without having to be plugged into a screen,” he said.
Because of the fragile nature of vinyl albums, they can only be checked out and returned to the library in person.
The library is at 151 S. Main St.
Image Information: OSCAR GRADY LIBRARY staff members Kathy Lepak and Martin Morante chose some favorite selections from the library’s newly available vinyl collection.Photo by Mark Jaeger