Sometimes you have to let go of the past. In this case, it’s the Stockwell-Mudd Library’s VHS tapes and LP (better known as vinyl albums) collections.
Weeding a select few materials from a library collection is not uncommon — but it is to remove two entire collections. Library Co-Director Michael VanHouten said it was a reasonable decision.
Both LP and VHS tape collections have had low circulation for the last 10 to 15 years. Tapes have made way for DVDs and online streaming, and although vinyl is making an underground comeback with music enthusiasts, the albums in Stockwell-Mudd’s collection were old, often donated and unpopular with the student body.
VanHouten and other library staff made the decision to remove the VHS tape and LP collections in preparation for a new online library system. Transferring their records to the new system did not seem worth it.
The system, Ex Libris’s Alma, was bought jointly with other Michigan colleges — oddly enough, without Alma College — to reduce the price. It will start running on campus this summer, in tandem with physical renovations that have been and will be taking place in the library.
Alma is almost 30 years younger than Stockwell-Mudd’s current online system, installed in 1990, which kept records of the VHS tape and LP collections. The internet was just growing in 1990, so the system needed constant attending to keep up with the times. With every new addition, the system would get clunkier and clunkier, said VanHouten.
Unlike the current system, whose two servers had to be manually backed up every day, Alma will be constantly backed up on a cloud. It has many current web services in mind and integrates many of the library’s programs — from music and film streaming services to the library’s half-million ebooks. Ultimately, it improves the accessibility to the library’s resources.
“It’s going to make it easier for our students and faculty to find pretty much anything we have access to, whether it’s in digital format or a print book or a hardcover journal or a streaming video,” said VanHouten.
As Alma begins to find a home in Albion, the VHS tape and LP collections are in need of homes themselves. Anyone can walk down to the first floor of the Mudd Learning Center and check out — or, rather, just walk out — with a vinyl or tape for free.
In memoriam and support of the displaced collections, pictures and summaries of some LPs and VHS tapes looking for homes have been provided.
Beer Garden Rhythms (1950) — This record was released two years after LPs were first produced. Hear the sounds of Germany sans the drive to Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Yo Soy Chicano (1997) — In 1972, PBS produced Chicano! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, the first documentary on Mexican Americans to air nationally during primetime. This tape marks its 25th anniversary.
Splash (1984) — USA Today states on the back cover, “A movie about a mermaid has to be funny or sexy, or both. Splash is both.” It apparently was. The film was 10th-highest grossing film of the year. Good for you, Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah.
Love’s Labour Lost (1962) and Henry VI Part II (1964) — If you find collecting albums for their artwork appealing, these multi-record sets are worth consideration. There are eight other audio Shakespeare plays available in Mudd. Great for English Professor Ian MacInnes’s Shakespeare classes.
The Red Balloon (1988) — This 1956 American Film Festival Grand Prize winner follows a French boy named Pascal who befriends a balloon that follows him. Fans of Stephen King’s It are advised to watch this short film with caution.
The Music Survives! Degenerate Music: Music Suppressed by the Third Reich (1996) — The absolutely horrible representation of a black saxophone player wearing a Star of David carnation became the Third Reich symbol of “Degenerate Art,” art not approved by the Nazi regime.
Mitch Miller and the Gang — Memories Sing Along With Mitch (1960) — When it comes to folk and children’s music, I’m partial to Raffi, but I’ll give Miller credit. Nothing makes me want to join choir again than hearing a joyous group of baritones and basses belt out.
Genital Herpes (1997) — The title is blunt, but this tape by the Film for the Humanities and Sciences seeks to reveal and deconstruct the social stigma around those with genital herpes, especially women.
Photos by Beau Brockett Jr.