Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Library and Archives

In 1983, a small group of music industry professionals set out to establish an organization to recognize the people who have created the most popular music of our time.  These professionals formed a nonprofit organization that would eventually become the Foundation. In 1986, the  Foundation held the first annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in  New York City.  Later that year Cleveland was selected as the permanent home of the Hall of Fame and Museum, which finally opened in 1995. In 2008, the Foundation provided an $8 million gift which was used to build the Library and Archives center and a redesign of the museum.

The Library and Archives mission: “The Library and Archives is the most comprehensive repository of materials relating to the history of rock and roll. Our mission is to collect, preserve, and provide access to these resources for scholars, educators, students, journalists, and the general public in order to broaden awareness and understanding of rock and roll, its roots, and its impact on our society.”

Jeff Gold Collection , Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Jeff Gold Collection , Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Their website does not include a formal collection policy but they do have a page that focuses on what they collect. They collect materials relating to the history of rock and roll and related music genres, Hall of Fame inductees and other significant artists, and relevant subjects such as the music business and music criticism.

Patti Smith Collection, Correspondence, 1976-1979, undated
Patti Smith Collection, Correspondence, 1976-1979, undated

They further list types of materials they collect: personal papers, photographs, recordings, ephemera, periodicals, etc.  If a potential donor has any further questions on whether certain materials fit their scope they are encouraged to contact the staff or to search their catalog for examples of what they collect.

The collections are managed by nine staff members that include a director, a public services librarian, three archivists, a catalog and metadata librarian, a library collections coordinator, a digital access and systems librarian, and a public services assistant.

In addition to the collections of major artists, the Library and Archives is actively developing its collections relating to local and regional popular music by establishing the Northeast Ohio Popular Music Archives.  These collections include personal papers, photographs, song manuscripts, business records, poster, and rare audio and video recordings.

There are no digitized collections on their website.  To access the collections a user must present a valid researcher card, complete the archives orientation, and follow all reading room procedures.  Online you can search their catalog, browse archival collections, search databases, and a list of 28 research guides for different artists is available. The browse archival collections page lists all of their collections.  You can click on a collection and you are taken to the finding aid. 

Finding Aid

One feature that I think is really neat are the research guides.  Research guides are compiled lists of resources from the archives.  These guides include biographical information, a list of books and DVDS available in their library, and a list of archival collections or a link to search results for a specific artist.  Also included are youtube videos of interviews, induction ceremonies, and music videos.  BlondieChuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and the Everly Brothers are just a few of the artists that have compiled research guides.



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