Dunn’s Library offers CD collection amid renovations – The Simpsonian

With streaming continuing to dominate the music industry, Dunn’s Library decided to donate its CD collection to students, staff, and faculty.

With the many advances in technology over the years, music has evolved with it. Vinyl, cassettes, CDs, iPods, and YouTube all once ruled the music world when it comes to listening to music. Now, streaming platforms like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music are replacing the need for physical music.

But in 2021, according to a data report from MCR Data, US vinyl record sales increased by 51.4% and US CD sales increased by 1.1%. However, that’s nothing compared to the more than 90% of Americans who use streaming services in a typical week, and no one buying physical music is rushing to their local library to check them out.

“We haven’t circulated them much – two, three or four a year, for the past few years,” said Cyd Dyer, librarian/archivist/university professor. “We are working on the renovation that will happen in the library. So we were looking at all of our collections to see what was being used and what was not being used. We have general books, oversized books, sheet music, journals and we even have DVDs. But CDs don’t really have their place.

Today, owning physical music is more of a hobby than a necessity. Therefore, Dunn Library has decided to make its collection of CDs available to the Simpson community.

“I contacted the music department who also have their own CD collection. And they weren’t even interested in taking it,” Dyer said.

“We emailed all the music teachers to see if they needed them and so anyone who needed them could have gotten them individually. But people don’t use CDs anymore,” said John Benoit, head of the department and professor of music. “I know that in my teaching, all the music I use, I have everything on my laptop. It’s all on iTunes. I’ve embedded audio in PowerPoint, I just press a button. So the need for the CD just isn’t there.

“I thought, well, I could throw it all away, but I can’t do that,” Dyer said. “So I just asked the Dean of Academics, John Woell, if he would be okay with giving them. And he said, ‘sure.’ So I tried to find a way to include everyone in the CD take if they wanted to, so when we put the announcement in the pulse of campus, the first people here were professors.

Brian Smith, adjunct teacher, said getting a CD collection “made his Friday”.

“I heard about it when I accompanied my wife to a meeting she was having and one of the people showed up and apologized for being late and he had a shoebox full of CDs,” Smith said. “I had walked past it before and seen a sign up, but I didn’t realize that meant they were giving them away.”

And is it any wonder that teachers, who grew up with physical music, were among the first to jump at the chance to expand their collections?

“I even had a faculty member who was a student here, and he found three CDs that he used to check all the time,” Dyer said.

“I started noticing about 8-10 years ago that students weren’t using CDs. They found everything on YouTube,” Benoit said. “So our students stopped using CDs before faculty.”

Many mainstream students today probably can’t even remember a time when YouTube pioneered the ability to stream music through their accessible music videos and creator-made lyric videos.

“Spotify is great, Amazon Music is great, but sometimes you just want the music in the order it was on an album,” Dyer said.

“There’s also something about it being kind of fun,” Smith said. “You can sit and look at the album cover and read about it. And even with CDs, most of them have little bits of information in them, which I think is cool. Not to mention that seeing them there is a sort of memory cue. Like you see that and you’re like, ‘Oh, that would be cool. I want to listen to this right now.'”

“I’m old enough to have started teaching before CDs,” Benoit said. “I just had to use records, and you had to drop the needle and try to find where on the record the music was, and that was a pain. I also used tapes, which you could queue, but it took forever if you had a second queue. So when the CDs came, for me it was just awesome because I could go straight to the track, right up to the second I needed to demonstrate something in class.

Dunn offers a wide selection of genres and a list that categorizes them by a certain combination of numbers. Everything from Broadway to Blues to the Bible.

“I took a wide variety,” Smith said. “Everything from Spike Jones to West Side Story to Frank Sinatra.”

But not all music genres are available for selection. The vast collection of operas will be given to the Des Moines Metro Opera.

The music department has yet to decide whether or not they will do something similar with their CD collection.

“We just didn’t get there,” Benoit said. “You spend so much time getting this stuff that you’re a little scared to get rid of it. But, on the other hand, I don’t see us going back.

Library CDs will be available until Spring Break, then they will dispose of what’s left.

“I hope it brings joy to some people,” Dyer said. “I hope this brings back good memories for some people. I hope people remember this important format that still exists.

“Thank you to the people at the library for providing it to us. I now have enough to distract me for a while,” Smith said.

Jack L. Goldstein