Fine Arts Library faces challenges in storing newly purchased music

Justin Atkinson

After purchasing the entirety of radio station KUT’s physical library — 60,000 CDs and 4,000 LPs — the Fine Arts Library is now facing the challenge of organizing and accommodating the massive assortment of music.

The decision to acquire the CDs and LPs was made late last November after KUT, a public radio station in the Moody College of Communication, had finished digitizing its music holdings. The music was bid on by the Fine Arts Library to prevent it from being dispersed outside of the UT community, music librarian David Hunter said.

“We purchased the collection by matching an offer that was made by a local commercial company that was offering $3,000 for the whole collection, which is pretty minimal,” Hunter said. “When part of the University wants to divest itself of what belongs to it, there is a preference to keep it within rather than see the materials leave the University.”

The process of sorting through the music, which Hunter projected will begin next January, will require substantial effort by the library staff and additional hiring of graduate assistants.

“It’s taken us 30 years since the advent of the CD to add a total 50,000 CDs to the library, and now we’ve just received 60,000,” Hunter said. “Obviously, our staffing levels now don’t permit us to make much more than a small dent in processing them. It’s going to take about 80 hours a week for 3 years to process.”

Hunter estimates that 90 percent of the collection will be new to the library, 5 percent will be duplicate material and 5 percent will have never been catalogued anywhere.

Parker Fishel, an information studies graduate student, said the acquisition will assist in multiple areas of research around campus.

“The purchase will fill in gaps and provide [the] best copies,” Fishel said. “This is essential for research of all kind, whether discographical, historical or musical. I’m sure many records are promotional copies from labels and thus have additional significance for researchers interested in broadcasting.”

Mark Davidson, library graduate assistant and information studies graduate student, said he thinks the addition to the library will help advance UT’s reputation of having an impressive record of music.

“The collection is a real boom for the University,” Davidson said. “It’ll increase the collection a whole lot and put UT in the running as one of the best music archives in the country, which is really important.”