Wellington City Library returns to records
Wellington City Library has recently introduced – or should I say re-introduced – a vinyl lending service. Yes, many years ago, and before my time in Wellington, you could borrow records. They even had special cardboard carriers – big record-sleeve envelopes. They're back too.
Many people were chuckling about the library's decision to bring back a small selection of vinyl – introduced, as I understand it, due to popular demand, via the feedback forms.
I wasn't sure how I felt about this – it didn't seem like a service I needed, I'm still busy counting down and writing about every record I own with daily entries.
But I'm a huge fan of the library. And you have to try these things before you knock them, right?
Turns out it's a pretty great idea.
My son is such a fan of borrowing books and CDs and DVDs from the library that we were, until recently, visiting the library three times a week.
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I've had to cut that back – but we would still visit every week, usually twice.
Getting to know the library through Oscar's 4-year-old view has been fascinating. I was already a regular before he was in the picture due to working in a building just across the road. It made late-returns easy to fix.
So the other week we decided to give the Record Lending Service a, erm, spin.
Oscar chose Parliament's Mothership Connection and we returned home to, well, Tear The Roof Off The Sucker – as it were…
I decided to sample a few things. Records I'd like to own but can't really afford right now. I've since returned for second, third and fourth loans of box-set vinyl by David Bowie and Bob Dylan. I discovered my new favourite Duke Ellington record.
I thought it would be nice to give Air's double best-of compilation a weekend spin on vinyl. I have the Mp3s already – but it was a nice start to Saturday morning with this breath of fresh Air.
Bob Dylan's Fallen Angels is a great album but the LP is above my paygrade (just as there are 'perks' to being a stay-at-home parent there are blatant non-perks too). So borrowing the library's copy to get the feel and decide whether it might be worth saving for (it is, and I will) made a lot of sense.
I've gone from being initially sceptical to one of the biggest fans of the library's brand new record selection. Do I worry about what's going to happen to them? Absolutely.
I'm convinced 80% of borrowers are going home to play them on ghastly retro-look plastic-box turntables. I don' I'm getting in quick, figuring the records will be ruined in a few months. How they'll be looked after and whether they're replaced – these are things I worry about but don't know the answer to.
I have Spotify and iTunes and CDs and cassette tapes at home. I stream and I download – I'm sent links to review albums and the odd "real" album still arrives in the post. I buy music and people send me things whether I want them or not. I've always argued that it's the music that matters and how you find it and how you order it and how you listen to it is up to you.
But getting a taste of the vinyl, in a try-before-you-buy arrangement (that's how I see it – the library's selection is informing my next orders from the local record store) is working out pretty good so far. It's fun. And for $1 a record for a week it's a bargain.