The LA Times has an interesting article about what basically amounts to an underground bunker in Washington, DC full of “a century’s worth of the nation’s musical and cinematic legacy” – or, more specifically, 100 miles of shelves stacked with “reels of film; kinescopes; videotape and screenplays; magnetic audiotape; wax cylinders; shellac, metal and vinyl discs; wire recordings; paper piano rolls; photographs; manuscripts; and other materials.” It sounds like a culture-lover’s version of the giant warehouse at the end of Raider’s of the Lost Arc!
So what is it? It used to be a Federal Reserve storehouse for money during the Cold War (a safe stockpile of cash in case of a nuclear attack), but nowadays it’s under the ownership of the Library of Congress. It’s two-fold mission? The conservation and restoration of its vast archive (with the help of a large staff of workers) and the job of helping grant complete public access to it.
The latter half of the article covers the difficulties with that second mission – granting complete access to this stash by the public – and specifically how copyright laws are preventing the complete realization of that dream. As the project’s director, Loren Schoenberg, says, “My goal is to have all of it, every last second of it, available on the Internet … But you can’t do that, because you’re dealing with [musicians’] estates, labels, record companies and publishers.”
You can read more about the bunker and what Shoenberg and others are doing to help everyone get access to this amazing resource by clicking on over to the article here.