At the Central Library Branch in Downtown Dallas, there’s one exception to the quiet rule: the 4th Floor Fine Arts Division, where patrons can use turntable listening stations to play vinyl records.

The records come from the library’s collection – 38,000 albums curated over several decades.

Fine Arts Division Manager Heather Lowe says, many people don’t know the collection is there.

“When vinyl started to regain in popularity, no one thought to check their local library, so it’s really just an issue of people not knowing that collection exists,” said Lowe.
It was historically a closed collection – meaning a librarian had to pull a record for someone to borrow. On several covers, ‘date due’ stickers indicate the popularity of borrowing vinyl back in the 80s and 90s.

But Lowe says, many of the records have not been touched in decades. “It’s a nice way for people to share the history of music. How music has been enjoyed over time. There’s such a romanticized notion of vinyl and it’s really an object of nostalgia for people,” she said.

Next Thursday, the library is having a party and sale to celebrate the collection.

Albums will be sold for $2 each. Among the 38,000 pieces, the library has multiples of many records (in some cases, as many as eight copies), so they see it as a way to clear space for new material. Lowe says they’ll keep at least one copy of each album currently in house.

At the sale, the library will also unveil its browseable record collection – making access to vinyl easier than ever for library patrons.

“We’re bringing the popular music, rock and jazz out on the floor so people will be able to see just exactly what the great things are that we have,” said Lowe.
Lowe points out that many artists today will only produce hard copies of albums on vinyl, so her hope is to grow the collection with new music.

This fall, the Central Library turns 33 1/3rd years old (and as vinyl lovers know, 33 1/3rd is the approximate number of revolutions on an LP).

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the public can browse the sale while enjoying a cash bar and DJ.

Members of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library (you can join for $25) will be able to access the sale early. Proceeds go back to the Fine Arts Division.

“A lot of libraries, in the 1990s and early 2000s just got rid of their collections wholesale, so we luckily held on to ours. It’s still intact and ready for people to use it,” Lowe said.

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