The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

The Rock Hall's Library and Archives: Our First Year

Friday, February 1: 3 p.m.
Posted by Andy Leach
Rock Hall director of Library and Archives Andy Leach at the L&A's information desk

It’s hard to believe the Rock Hall’s new Library and Archives has already been open for a year. Ever since we first opened our doors to the public in January 2012, visitors of all kinds have been steadily flowing in to use our resources for their research and to expand their knowledge of rock and roll and its history.

During 2012, the Library and Archives welcomed nearly 4,000 visitors, many of whom conducted research using one-of-a-kind archival materials in our Archives Reading Room. Our visitors included scholars from around the country, students and teachers from local colleges and universities, authors, documentarians and music fans. The Library and Archives staff also handled more than 800 reference queries, most of which arrived via phone and e-mail.

Many notable people visited the Library and Archives during our first year, including Hall of Fame Inductees Ron Wood, Kenney Jones, and Ian McLagan of the Faces, Chuck Berry, Tom Constanten (Grateful Dead), and Glyn Johns; music writer Peter Guralnick; scholars Craig Werner, David Brackett, and Andy Flory; former National Endowment for the Arts Chairman John Frohnmeyer; Govinda Gallery founder and director Chris Murray; Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux; and Hank LoConti, owner of Cleveland's famous Agora Theatre and Ballroom. 

Our staff continued to work hard processing archival collections and cataloging library materials. When we opened last year, 216 archival collections had been processed and made available, and approximately 5,500 library items had been cataloged. Since then, 80 more archival collections were processed and made available, and more than 5,000 additional library items were cataloged. There are now more than 300 archival collections and more than 11,000 library items listed in our online catalog and available to researchers.  

The Library and Archives has recently completed a lengthy project to digitally preserve the video footage of past Rock Hall events, including nearly three decades of Induction Ceremonies and 17 years of education programs. These digitization and cataloging efforts have already resulted in hundreds of hours of unique footage being viewable directly from our online catalog from within the Library and Archives facility. And, of course, these numbers continue to grow.

Through the generous support of donors, many new archival collections were acquired last year, including the Austin City Limits/KLRU Collection, the Jane Scott Papers, the Les Paul Papers and the Stewart Copeland Papers. The staff continues to work closely with donors to collect and accession new archival materials to strengthen our collections, and we also acquire new and significant library materials (including books, periodicals, and sound and video recordings) on an ongoing basis. The staff also curated three exhibits at the Library and Archives during our first year in order to showcase some of our collections. One exhibit covered the history of punk rock, another highlighted the life and career of Ahmet Ertegun, and another included a wide array of materials relating to the life and music of Chuck Berry. Next week, we will unveil a new exhibit featuring the work of photographer Jimmy Baynes, whose remarkable black-and-white photographs captured the activities of rock and roll performers and audiences in Cleveland music venues during the 1950s and 1960s.

Additionally, public programs at the Library and Archives began last year and are off to a great start. Our new Author Series is now bringing journalists, critics and scholars to the Library and Archives for free readings and discussion sessions. Authors RJ Smith (The One: The Life and Music of James Brown), Nadine Cohodas (Spinning Blues into Gold: The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records), and Peter Carlin (Bruce) appeared at Author Series events in 2012, and these events will continue into the future.

The Library and Archives’ collections and services continue to expand every day. We couldn’t be happier to be able to provide public access to this valuable resource to everyone who needs it, free of charge. We hope to see you at the Library and Archives soon!

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