Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ekstrom Library Home to Underground Music Archive

What began as a donation of local zines has become an archive documenting the 1980s and '90s punk, hardcore, and indie rock scenes in Louisville, Kentucky.

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The Louisville Underground Music Archive got its start in 2011, when Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville accepted vintage sets of two local zines: Burt the Cat and Hard Times. Processing them, archivist Carrie Daniels at Ekstrom Library's Archives and Special Collections recognized fellow archivist Heather Fox on the cover of one of the zines. Fox, a musician active in the local scene, was working at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville. Daniels contacted Fox, who in turn contacted the publisher of Burt the Cat, Paul Curry, who donated additional issues, enabling Ekstrom Library to house the complete run of Burt and fill major gaps in the run of Hard Times. It was then that Daniels and Fox began to consider building a more comprehensive archive of Louisville's rock scenes. 

The push to create a comprehensive collection gained momentum with the 2012 death of Jason Nobel, member of the Louisville bands Rodan, Rachel's, and Shipping News, and the 2013 death of Jon Cook, member of the bands Rodan, Crain, and Cerebellum. "We started losing members of the music scene, and that really brought things to a head," Daniels said in an interview with WFPL, a Louisville radio station. "We realized we had to start collecting now; it had to be more than a cool idea. Because material was going to get lost. If the flyers get lost, if the music gets lost, if the set lists disappear, then an essential part of the scene is lost forever." The Louisville Underground Music Archive, or LUMA, was officially formed. Archivists Sarah-Jane Poindexter and Elizabeth Reilly, both interested in Louisville's local music scenes, came on board to help build LUMA.

LUMA is actively archiving items from Louisville's 1980s and '90s music scenes.
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Right now, Daniels and her colleagues are actively seeking donations to LUMA. These can include personal papers and correspondence, business records, set lists, photographs, flyers, posters, original artwork, albums and other recorded music, videotaped shows, T-shirts, buttons, zines, newsletters, stickers, and any other ephemera related to the punk, hardcore, and indie rock scenes in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1980s and '90s. Fan mail is also welcome. Talking to WFPL, archivist Poindexter said, "The Rachel's, for instance, donated their materials here. It covers their process of creating music as well as the artwork and packaging, their press release, their tour information, how they planned their tour and executive it, as well as fan mail."

In housing the Louisville Underground Music Library, the University of Louisville joins other academic institutions that have decided to collect the artifacts of independent music scenes, including New York University with its Riot Grrrl Collection and George Washington University with its D.C. Punk Rock Collection. According to the LUMA website, "Generally speaking, records of popular culture of this type are underrepresented in archives, putting this history at risk for loss." By accepting and preserving these records, these university archives can help keep the memories of these scenes alive for those who created and participated in them, as well as educate those who weren't part of those scenes but want to know about them.

"Ultimately, the goal of this collecting is to make it freely available to the community and researchers in general, and to preserve it for future generations," says the Louisville Underground Music Archive website. In the meantime, LUMA is eagerly accepting donations. "We are interested in taking anything and everything related to the music scene, things that people won't even think could be useful to an archive, Reilly told WFPL. "Every little piece tells the bigger story."

For more on the Louisville Underground Music Archive (LUMA), go HERE and HERE. If you would like to donate materials to the archive, send LUMA an email message at: Also, like LUMA on Facebook at THIS LINK.

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