Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library + Archives Opens

While doing research for a class project last fall, I learned that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, was constructing a special library and archives facility. Today, that facility opened to the public.

The Rock Hall of Fame Library + Archives opened in Cleveland on Tuesday.
image source: http://library.rockhall.com

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Library + Archives occupies a four-story building on the campus of Cuyahoga Community College, just 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the Rock Hall. Inside, you'll find books, magazines, audio recordings, and videos, as well as songbooks, posters, albums, photographs, personal letters, and much more.

"We hope to serve music scholars, teachers, students, and the general public," said Andy Leach, director of the facility. "We hope to see all of them here."

For more on the Rock Hall of Fame and Museum Library + Archives, see the article below.

Cleveland.com * January 16, 2012

Rock Hall Library and Archives Set to Open Tuesday

By John Soeder, The Plain Dealer

Charles Hughes, a student, looks at the Jerry
Wexler Collection in the archive reading room
at the Rock Hall Library and Archives.

They're ready to roll at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Library and Archives.

The new addition to Cuyahoga Community College's Metropolitan Campus will be officially dedicated during a ceremony Monday, April 9, as part of the festivities leading up to the Rock Hall inductions April 14 at Public Auditorium.

But as of Tuesday, this unique repository will be open to the public.

"It really extends our depth in terms of telling the story and the history of rock 'n' roll," said Jim Henke, the Rock Hall's vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs.

"This takes it to another level, a level that's deeper than what we have at the museum," Henke said. "Our hope is that as people visit the museum, they'll be inspired to come to the library and archives, too."

Books about everyone from the Beatles to Jimi Hendrix to Elvis Presley line row after row of shelves.

"When it comes to, say, the Beatles, I wouldn't be surprised if our collection is the deepest among all public libraries in the country," said Andy Leach, director of the facility.

There are eight full-time employees on staff.

"We're going to be the leading research center for anything related to American popular music, with rock 'n' roll as the focus," Leach said.

rockhall2.jpgBooks line the shelves at the Rock Hall Library
and Archives.

You'll also find songbooks, dissertations and dozens of music periodicals, ranging from the headbanging magazine Kerrang! to the scholarly journal Ethnomusicology. Computer terminals provide access to audio-visual holdings.

Patrons won't be able to check out items, although they're welcome to peruse materials in the main reading room, an inviting space with large windows. Select artifacts from the Rock Hall are on display, too. Among the items currently on view are vintage electric guitars from Les Paul and Joe Walsh.

As of now, the catalog boasts some 5,500 items, including approximately 3,500 books, 1,400 audio recordings and 270 videos. Tens of thousands of other items are still waiting to be cataloged.

To make full use of the facility, you'll need a Rock Hall library card, which can be obtained free (with a valid photo ID) at the library.

For more extensive research, the smaller archive reading room will provide white-glove access to treasures from the archives' vaults, under close supervision and within reasonable limits. Chances are the staff isn't going to fetch Hendrix's handwritten "Purple Haze" lyrics for you to handle - unless you're a serious scholar.

Charles Hughes was in there by special appointment last week, thanks to a fellowship from the Rock and Popular Music Institute, a fledgling joint venture between the Rock Hall and Case Western Reserve University.

Hughes was poring over correspondence from record producer Jerry Wexler and other items, researching a dissertation about race and the Southern recording industry in the '60s and '70s.

"I found some documents that really connect some dots," said Hughes, a graduate student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Even the stuff that isn't directly helpful to me is super cool."

Less intense scholarship is welcome, too. Staffers gladly will field a phone call from a middle-school student who is writing a term paper about Kurt Cobain.

"We're ready for anything," Leach said. "We're here to serve everyone, from students of all ages to teachers to scholars to the general public."

rockhall3.jpgContractor Darren Hedeen installs listening
and viewing stations at the Rock Hall Library
and Archives.

The library and archives occupy about one-third of Tri-C's 75,000-square-foot Center for Creative Arts, two miles away from the Rock Hall itself. Through a capital campaign, the nonprofit museum raised $12 million for its stake in the $35 million building. The college footed the remainder of the bill with state money.

Tri-C's side of the center opened in 2009, compete with state-of-the-art multimedia facilities and classrooms.

On the Rock Hall side, employees have spent two years gearing up behind the scenes for the opening.

What if you're listening to a Led Zeppelin album at a library terminal and start singing along? Will a librarian rush over to shush you? What exactly is the protocol in a rock 'n' roll library?

Leach thought it over for a moment.

"People will be doing research here, so we're going to discourage them from making phone calls," he said.

"But if somebody wants to break into song, I guess that would be alright."

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