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Library has treasure trove of recordings

May 8, 2011 at 1:05 PM

CULPEPER, Va., May 8 (UPI) -- The $250 million Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Virginia is a trove of music history, but accessing it can be difficult, officials say.

That's because much of the Library of Congress collection is restricted under copyright law and digitizing it and making it available to the general public could violate the law, conservationists said in a New York Times report Sunday.

The vast collections are stored in a 45-acre vault and high-tech preservation and restoration center on Virginia's Mount Pony, about an hour south of Washington, D.C.

"My goal is to have all of it, every last second of it, available on the Internet. If it was up to me, I'd just throw it on the Internet, let everybody sue each other and happy New Year. But you can't do that, because you're dealing with [musicians'] estates, labels, record companies and publishers," director Loren Schoenberg said,

Gene DeAnna, who heads the recorded sound section at the library, said he looks forward to the day when more material is available to the public through Internet access.

"We should be able to have Internet streaming access on secure sites -- and more than one, not just our reading room," DeAnna said.

DeAnna said at a minimum, "We should have partnerships with universities around the country -- we should have at least that."

Packard conservators are busy now processing nearly 250,000 master recordings by musicians such as Duke Ellington and Bing Crosby. Universal Music Group donated the recordings to the library.

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