Preserving music with The Great 78 Project

Oct 24 2019

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Did you know that as part of our collection projects, we accept music records? They go to our Scarcely Used Book & Record sale, which is open to the public and serves as a fundraiser for our organization. Our volunteer Jim is our resident audiophile. He sorts our record donations, listens to, and researches many of the albums so he can help shoppers discover new music or simply share some fascinating musical trivia.

Jim, our volunteer and music expert.

A while back, Jim came across 78rpm records, which are now obsolete, and in his research found out about The Great 78 Project, a community project for the preservation, research and discovery of 78rpm records. Made from the 1890s to 1950s, 78rpm records are rare and very delicate and many were never digitized. Preservation and conservation go hand in hand, so SCARCE was on-board to support their efforts!

Dropping off 78s outside of Philadelphia.

In October, our founder Kay went on a “vacation” road tripping towards the east coast with stops along the way for our various recycling and reuse projects, including 78rpm records.

Outside of Philadelphia, Kay and her husband made our second donation to The Great 78 Project (check out our first here) by dropping off 20 boxes of 78s – a little over 1,000 discs – at George Blood Audio, the digitizing partner for The Great 78 Project. The experts at GBA gave Kay a tour and explained the delicate process of preserving the recordings.

It starts with cataloging the records and grading them by condition. Next comes cleaning, which is done in three separate steps. Then they snap a photo of the record label and digitally record each side eight times with styluses of different shapes and sizes. Finally, the records are returned to a sleeve and shipped to San Francisco where they are stored indefinitely.

Kudos to Jim for recognizing the historical value of these records and connecting us with The Great 78 Project! Thanks to him, we’ve now helped preserve thousands of records for future generations to study and enjoy.

You can help make music history!

If you like this project, please consider making a donation to support our efforts to support music preservation and education. All of our reuse and recycling projects depend on support from donors like you! SCARCE is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax-deductible to the extent the law allows.

You can also shop our Scarcely Used Book & Record Sale for new-to-you music and books and gifts for the book and music lovers in your life.

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