Paying about $3,000 for 400 boxes full of classic records and CDs seems like an incredible bargain, right? Well, the University of Texas at Austin’s Fine Arts Library was the lucky buyer in December, when it purchased more than 60,000 CDs and 4,000 LPs from the university’s public-radio station, KUT.
The radio station’s entire physical music collection—more than 50 years’ worth of accumulation—is now part of the Fine Arts Library’s Historical Music Recordings Collection. The library’s collection, which already had some 200,000 items in all formats, is one of the largest in the nation.
The rare transaction came after KUTX, KUT’s music outlet, digitized its music holdings. The digitizing project began more than a year ago in preparation for the station’s move from quarters on the campus to a brand-new building nearby. (KUTX is heard on local FM airwaves at 98.9, as well as online; KUT, an NPR-affiliated news outlet, is heard at 90.5 or on the Internet.)
“When we designed the new building, it was pretty apparent that we weren’t going to have room for a library the size of the one we had in the old building,” said Jeff McCord, music director at KUTX.
Mr. McCord said the process was “pretty chaotic.” With the help of “an army of students,” KUT ripped about 150,000 songs, or about half a million minutes of music.
The staff kept only a shelf of LPs in the new studio and some album covers, in part because of the information they provide. “Even though we are not playing CDs anymore, there is a wealth of information that came with the albums that is now lost in digital format,” Mr. McCord said.
The Fine Arts Library hopes to make the CD collection available for the public as soon as the music gets processed and stored. The 4,000 LPs will join 100,000 more that are stored in the Collections Deposit Library, which holds fragile materials that are available only by special request.