The Library of Congress Recorded Sound Collection contains some 2.5 million audio recordings including multiple copies. Published and unpublished recordings, contained on a variety of physical formats representing the history of sound recording from late nineteenth century cylinders and discs to the latest digital files, include radio broadcasts and spoken word, as well as vocal and instrumental music.
Radio broadcast transcriptions, making up approximately 30% of the collection, reflect the pioneering efforts of the early networks and preserve for posterity the reporting of such historic events as World War II and the space race, as well as news, talk, variety, and comedy shows. The scope of music exemplified by the collection is vast in depth and breadth. The unique 1898 recordings of whistler Milton Clark by disc-recording pioneer Emile Berliner, the Carter Family's 1928 hit Wildwood Flower, Bob Dylan singing Hard Rain's Gonna Fall at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival , Ellington's Take the A Train, The Beatles' Hard Day's Night, Bob Marley's Rastaman Vibration, Michael Jackson's Thriller, and Ricky Martin's number one Latin album of 1999, Vuelve, are filed alongside great moments in the history of recorded Western classical music. Spoken word recordings cover such events as famous speeches of U.S. presidents since Teddy Roosevelt and renowned poets reading from their works also comprise an important portion of the collection.
Several special projects are currently underway at the Library to increase the number of recordings represented by online cataloging and thereby create greater accessibility to the collection by the public. These projects include retrospective ILS "copy cataloging" for as-yet uncataloged LPs and CDs via OCLC, the inventorying of Armed Forces Radio broadcast transcription discs in SONIC, the original cataloging of non-Armed Forces Radio broadcast transcription discs in the ILS, and the addition of recently-received 78 rpm discs to SONIC. These projects and others like them are helping us to realize the Library's goal of making its collections as accessible as possible to the public.
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