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Program National Recording Preservation Board

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about the National Recording Registry.

What is the National Recording Registry?

The National Recording Registry is a list of sound recordings deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress. These recording are not necessarily selected as the “best” recordings of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture and, hence, in need of permanent preservation by either the Library of Congress or another qualified institution.
Twenty-five recordings are named to the Registry each year.

Who selects the titles for the Registry?

The Librarian of Congress makes the annual selections to the Registry after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public and after conferring with the Library’s curators and the distinguished members of the National Recording Preservation Board.

Are there any restrictions regarding titles that are eligible for the Registry?

Only two: a recording must be at least 10 years old and a copy of it must exist someplace i.e. a “lost” recording are not eligible.

When are recordings selected for the Registry?

Near the beginning of each calendar year with those selections reflecting the year just past. Look for the annual announcement in either February or March of each year.

Can the public participate?

Absolutely! In fact, you're encouraged to submit your nominations each year. Members of the public may nominate up to 50 recordings each calendar year. Submit your recommendations through this portal.

What’s on the Registry?

A complete list titles can be found here. At this link, you can also search by the oldest and newest recordings on the Registry as well as by genre and other factors.

Does the Library of Congress own the recordings on the Registry?

No, the Library does not own the recordings on the Registry. The recordings are generally owned by an individual, a network or a major record label. In a few cases, the recording is in the public domain.

Are the items on this webpage available for copying or use?

Most of the recordings in the Registry are under copyright, as are many of the descriptive essays about Registry items. Essays by Library of Congress employees (for example, those by Cary O'Dell or Matt Barton) are free to use and reuse. The Library has obtained permission for the use of some materials, and presents additional materials for educational and research purposes in accordance with fair use under United States copyright law.

Rights assessment is your responsibility. The written permission of the copyright owners in materials not in the public domain is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. There may also be content that is protected under the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations. Permissions may additionally be required from holders of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights). Whenever possible, we provide information that we have about copyright owners and related matters in the catalog records, finding aids and other texts that accompany collections. However, the information we have may not be accurate or complete.

More about Copyright and other Restrictions

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.