Sooner or later, everything old is new again. The 12th annual Record Store Day U.S. took place this past Saturday, April 13, where independent record stores all over the country celebrated with special release discs, live music, and more. St. Pete local record store Daddy Kool Records had a line to get inside their building for most of the day.
The hype surrounding this old school format isn’t just another fad. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl record sales rose to $419.2 million in 2018. While streaming may be the future of music listening, it hasn’t stopped good, old-fashioned vinyl records from making a comeback. Thanks to a recent donation by Dr. Lewis and Family from Pasadena, Florida to the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Library, St. Petersburg College is now embracing this comeback with a vinyl collection housing nearly 1,000 LP’s and professional audio equipment.
Vinyl, Equipment, and History
Housed inside Retro Joe’s which is located upstairs at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Library, students can now enjoy a growing collection. The donation contains almost 1,000 LP’s, as well as 2 Audio-Technica LP120USB Direct Drive Professional DJ Turntables, 2 M6 USB 4-Channel USB DJ Mixers, 2 Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones, and 2 Audio-Technica AT95E Dual Magnet 1/2″ Mount Phonograph Cartridges, a Denon DN-C630 and a Denon DN-C550R CD player/recorder.
The listening collection contains a wide variety of genres including a sizable assortment of Jazz, featuring classics by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Miles Davis. Students can experience vibes from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, with albums from Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, and Bob Seger. Contemporary releases are also being added, including Panic at the Disco, Vampire Weekend, Portishead, Neutral Milk Hotel, Radiohead, Jawbreaker, and more. Students can even experience a little local history, with recordings from The Madrigalians, the SPC Clearwater fine music ensemble from 1969!
An experimental music collection, as well as a collection of local bands, are forthcoming. Alongside the record bins, two turntables & mixers are available for listening inside Retro Joe’s. Students can check out the headphones at the Information Desk with their student I.D. Instructions on how to handle the albums, as well as on respecting the turntables, are visible for curious users who may be inexperienced with the format.
For those interested in reading more about albums, the pocket-sized publications “33 1/3” are also available for perusing and check-out. Each issue covers a single album, including detailed writings on Led Zeppelin, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland”, and many more.
Vision for the Future
Seminole Campus librarian, Chad Mairn, has spearheaded the record collection project in Retro Joe’s, cataloging the albums so they can be checked out. Mairn, who plays in a local punk band Low Season, is an avid music collector and has donated CD’s from his personal collection to expand the listening lab even more. Over 10 years ago he started an iTunes “listening station” in the library, so students could have easy access to much of the library’s CD collection. Mairn envisioned it like a record store, where people could listen to music before they take it home. As a student at USF, Mairn fell in love with the library as he spent countless hours flipping through bins of vinyl and discovering music. He hopes the same thing will happen for SPC students at the new listening lab.
Thank you to Dr. Lewis and Family for their generous donation and Chad Mairn for his efforts making vinyl accessible to theSt. Petersburg/Gibbs Library. Special thanks to Damon Dougherty and Corey Chambers who helped get the lab setup.
Can’t make it to St.Pete/Gibbs?
The St. Pete/Gibbs Campus is currently the only campus home to a vinyl collection like this. However, Tarpon Springs Campus is home to an untranslated manga collection available to students, while Seminole Campus is home to an innovation lab. Visit each Campus Library and see what they have to offer!