Hi! It’s nice to talk to all of you again. I hope that you and your families are safe and in good health.
I found something interesting for you today. For some of you this will be a trip down Memory Lane; for others, it may be an adventure in time travel.
Internet Archives, in collaboration with the Boston Public Library, is digitizing the library’s extensive collection of vinyl albums. And it is a wide-ranging collection, including classical music, jazz, country, spoken word, international music, and category-defying LPs (I’m thinking of Music for Baton Twirlers and sound effects records, among others). There are even language-learning LPs (I stumbled upon one set I used to own!).
Over 15,000 albums have already been digitized. Of these, over 7000 are classical music. You can narrow your search by genres and subgenres (Baroque, Romantic) or by composer.
For works that are still under copyright, you can hear 30-second samples, and in some cases you can use the provided Spotify link (which plays on the Internet Archives website) to hear an entire track (or album). Over 2,500 are “unlocked,” meaning you can download the album in uncompressed 24-bit FLAC format, meaning at full fidelity (there are plenty of programs to convert to MP3 if needed). You can also download album art. Cherubini’s Medea with Maria Callas included a full bilingual libretto and liner notes.
A caveat: quality may vary. I heard some albums with wonderful clarity; others had the clicks and snaps typically associated with old vinyl recordings. Those with the inclination and a little tech savvy could probably run their downloads through an audio program like Audacity (which is free) and clean them up a bit.
You can find the albums at https://archive.org/details/vinyl_bostonpubliclibrary. Here is an article about the project (quick takeaway: each operator digitizes 12 albums at a time in real time; after about 20 minutes, the operator flips each record on its turntable and records the second side—it’s a time-consuming process!). If you derive value from this project, please consider supporting Internet Archive’s efforts with a tax-deductible donation.
And while you’re at the Internet Archive, check out the mind-boggling variety of material available at the site. You’ll find books and audio, but you’ll also find films, tv programming, courses, old software and games…just go look, you’ll be amazed.
Even if you can’t go to your local library, you can still get to this one online.
Image attribution: Vinyl record by Meul, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Disque_Vinyl.svg