Friends of the Phonograph

Public Libraries as Record Lenders

Courtesy Charles Schulz July 25, 1954


Public Libraries as Record Lenders


By Doug Boilesen, 2020

In 2020 public libraries are still known for their printed books and periodicals that can be checked out. Most libraries also have computers to use and other media that can be borrowed such as audiobooks, e-books, CDs, and DVDs.

Having grown up in the 1950's and 1960's I remember records as the only audio medium that could be checked-out. My home library was Bennett Martin Public Library in Lincoln, Nebraska and it would continue to have records in its collection into the 1990s. Audio cassettes and video cassettes appeared and disappeared from most libraries, along with records, as libraries found that they needed to be part of the digital world to stay relevant to the devices consumers used and had in their homes.


Listening to children's album at Bennett Martin Public Library 1981

Courtesy Ted Kirk / JournalStar File Photo


However, a renewed interest in vinyl records in the 2010's reversed that fate of records in a few libraries.

As a Friend of the Phonograph I'm highlight one of those libraries, the Nutley Public Library in Nutley, New Jersey, because they returned vinyl record albums to their borrowing shelves and because they used a creative promotion for that reintroduction.

Here's what the Nutley Public Library published on their webpage in 2017 regarding the 25 year lapse and reintroduction of records.


Courtesy of The Nutley Public Library




Additionally, Nutley Library offered Tuesday evening events to spotlight their new vinyl record collection.

The Nutley Public Library, Nutley, New Jersey


De-Stress, be mindful and enjoy the tactile experience of playing vinyl music with some coffee, tea and pastries. It's a good example set by Friends of the Nutley Public Library for Friends of Anything.

There are other examples of public libraries, like Nutley, now offering LPs as one of their lending services but the libraries known for their access to superb record collections are some of the premier libraries of the world.

The Vinyl Factory (VF) has identified the following as "the incredible record libraries where you can listen to vast archives for free."

The British Library Sound Archive, London, United Kingdom

The Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound of The New York Public Library, New York City, USA

Music Library + Understage, Seoul, South Korea

Music Section, Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany

The Music Room, Potato Head Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China



"It has not been for nothing that the word has remained man's principal toy and tool: without the meanings and values it sustains, all man's other tools would be worthless." óLewis Mumford


"A word is dead

When it is said,

Some say.

I say it just

Begins to live

That day."

Emily Dickinson "A Word is Dead"