Afternoons spent pouring through discs in the local record store with friends might be few and far between these days, but at the music library tucked inside WVKC’s radio station in George Davis Hall, any Knox student can share in the experience of discovering the good, the bad and the just plain weird when it comes to new (and very old) music.
The station’s library, which consists of a narrow room lined with record and CD shelves plus a back room for more record storage, was opened to the Knox community at the beginning of winter term. Venture in Monday through Thursday between 5 and 7 p.m. and you will find the library, complete with comfy couches, chairs, a CD and cassette player and an old record player affectionately referred to as “the thing” — as well as one or two of WVKC’s seven employees.
“The library has always been a place for us to hang out as a staff but as of lately we’ve opened it up,” said senior and Music Director Jacqueline Novak. She explained that the choice to revamp the library for public use was made so that people could look through records, use the space to hang out and check out music just as they would at a traditional library.
“It’s always been kind of on the backburner to open it up to people,” she added.
Plans to renovate the library began when junior and General Manager Samantha Smith was hired as music librarian, a process which required removing everything from the premises, repainting, redecorating, buying furniture and cataloging music. According to Smith the library had once been open to the public, but that was before her time at Knox.
“It was like, ‘Well, we’re not quite perfect yet, we’re not there. And then it was like, ‘Okay look, let’s just open the place and see what happens. We’ve got paint on the walls, clean floor space,” said senior Will Bouman, also a music director.
“It just feels like someone’s apartment who loves music,” Novak added. “It’s low key and it’s really nice when we get low key people who want to hang out and listen to music.”
Traffic, however, has been hit or miss, with Novak reporting that she has had no one stop by so far but also noting that Smith has had better luck.
“If you’re gonna come, you’re gonna come, but it’s not really the kind of setting where people jump up four flights of stairs if they don’t really want to. I feel like it’s one of those things that’s going to take time,” said Novak.
For those who do come, the process is relaxed, with checking items out operating on the honor system with a WVKC member there to take down names and emails.
“We just keep a record, no pun intended, that you’re taking it,” said Novak.
Because of the variety of music sent in by artists and other stations, the library’s offerings constitute quite a range, especially considering what has accumulated over the years.
“They’ve been sending us this stuff for … ever,” said Bouman, picking up a record titled “The Hits of Benny Goodman.” Their random sampling of recently received CDs, meanwhile, includes the likes of “When You Were a Tadpole” and “I Was a Fish” by Green Man and The Scientist and Ted Sirota’s “Heavyweight Dubstep,” plus a collection of ambient piano stylings.
“It’s not always very good, but sometimes it is, and you just have to listen to it,” said Bouman, who also noted that having the library is a good way to give the station a more analog and physical presence, especially as more and more content shifts online, what with streaming from NPR and a new website.
For Smith, the importance of the library is that it offers the members of the community the chance to expose themselves to iconic artists and rarer fare that have, in some cases, been stored in the station for years.
“We have all this stuff, and what’s the point in having it if you can’t use it?” Novak said.
Defined by its well-worn and laid-back environment, insulation-bedecked back room and eclectic variety of music offerings, Directors Novak and Bouman found some picks to show off what gems can turn up when hunting around the WVKC music library.
WVKC Staff Library Picks:
“The Whatever” by Banana Mou
“We’ve Got the Bling” by Bling Kong
“Odessa” by Caribou
“The Other Shoe” by F***ed Up
“Forgiven/Forgotten” by Angel Olson