In the depths of the Fine Arts & Design Library lives The "Archives in the Grooves," a collection showcasing the range of the University of New Mexico's large LP collection.
The various cases on display showcase a select few of the 20,000 LPs kept by UNM Libraries. The showcase covers a range of musicians and styes such as African American Classical Musicians, a Cecil Taylor display case, as well as displays dedicated to flamenco music, blues music and audiobooks.
LPs, or long play records, hold importance in 20th century history, and the collection aims to showcase the multiple ways that these recordings are important. This is not only through musical recordings, but through audiobooks, oral histories, broadcast recordings and the infamous album artwork of the LP. The display cases were curated by UNM Library staff Stephenie Akau, Jonathan Hartshorn and William Kinney.
Stephanie Akau, a library information specialist, curated the display case dedicated to African-American classical musicians, and discussed not only the volume of LPs available, but the range of different materials hosted in the showcase.
"There are recordings of oral histories, poetry readings, speeches, plays, and artists that were popular in the mid-20th century but have not been heard much since... sound recordings of oral histories can enhance research and are a primary source most people do not consider," Akau said.
On display alongside the LPs are detailed instructions for the multiple ways students and community members can access the collection, including how to search the collection in the library catalogue. In addition to enhancing research possibilities, Akau also emphasized the collections accessibility.
Library visitors can check out LPs or listen in the library. Akau said if a visitor wants to listen but does not want to check out an LP, there is a QR code that links directly to a music streaming database with the recording that they are searching for.
An element of the collection is the rotating featured artist, that is switched every couple weeks. This week the musician is conductor, Paul Freeman, who founded the Chicago Sinfonietta orchestra. In addition to showcasing UNM's large LP collection, Akau also noted that it is a chance to celebrate history, as the exhibit coincided with Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March) and Black Women’s History Month (April).
The collection is on display in the Fine Arts & Design Library, which also houses equipment to play the LPs, and most other audio recordings, if visitors do not have access at home.
Sophia Sambrano is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.