The Seattle Public Library (SPL) has partnered with the University of Washington’s acclaimed KEXP radio (90.3 FM) to offer access to KEXP’s collection of approximately 3,200 live, in-studio performances recorded at the station. The recordings—including performances from up-and coming local groups, as well as nationally popular acts such as Arcade Fire, Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, Norah Jones, and the Black Keys—can now be discovered and streamed via SPL’s online public access catalog.
The partnership was originally conceived a little over a year and a half ago during a meet-and-greet between SPL and KEXP leadership, according to Jim Loter, director of information technology for SPL.
“It originally came to the library as an open-ended question: How can we partner?” Loter told LJ. “How can our two organizations, which are both committed to discovery of interesting materials, work together? And, one of the easiest and lowest hanging piece of fruit that we identified was this collection of original live recordings that they’ve been producing for about six or seven years.”
KEXP was interested in giving the recordings more visibility, and SPL has been “interested in expanding our catalog, our discovery platform, to make more materials available, including material that is not traditionally held by the library,” Loter said. Ultimately, the goal is to shift from an environment where SPL’s catalog focuses exclusively on access to library materials, to a portal environment, where patrons can also discover what’s in the library and what’s available through other resources within the community.
“We thought this was a good initial pilot to try out,” Loter said. “They had the material, they had the material well documented, and from our point of view, it was a simple matter of converting the data set and importing them into the catalog.”
The collection features a range of genres, including indie, hip hop, reggae, roots, country, Latin, modern global, and more, according to a release. Each performance runs about 20 minutes and includes four or five songs, and about 200 new recordings will be added to the collection at regular intervals each year. Since the files are still hosted on KEXP’s servers, patrons who discover these recordings using SPL’s catalog will not need to enter a library card number to stream the songs.
Marketing and promotional efforts are still being worked out, but in general, as KEXP promotes the collection with on-air spots and print materials, they will also mention that it is accessible through SPL, Loter said.
“As far as we know, this is the first partnership of its kind between a library and radio station,” Seattle City Librarian Marcellus Turner said in a release. “We see the KEXP offerings as an added bonus to our music collection. Patrons searching our catalog for a particular CD, for example, might also discover the band’s live performances from KEXP…We are very excited about bringing more music to the public through this unique partnership.”