Henry Rollins: The Column! Henry Speaks On His Consciousness-Expanding Trip to the Library of Congress With Ian MacKaye
For two hours we are allowed to walk all over the place and visit with different departments. We first meet with people who are meticulously repairing books from as far back as the 15th century, from Thomas Jefferson's prayer book to a book from Susan B. Anthony's collection with her handwritten notes on the cover. The work is very careful and very slow. Different countries in different times used different bindings, adhesives and paper. Repair must be historically considered, lest we lose a one-of-a-kind book.
These people are all about collecting, databasing and preserving. I am in my element. We are having conversations about acid-free paper and Mylar L-sleeves! Be still, my fanatic heart.
From there, it was off to the audio department. They were waiting for us. They had laid out a few of the millions of pieces of vinyl in their care. Stooges, first album, white label promo, date-stamped August 1969. I pulled out the LP. Unplayed. The superwide band holding the song "We Will Fall" reflected back at me, screaming, "I am pristine! Worship me!" Stooges and MC5 singles, unplayed, looking as new as the day they were pressed. Original Harry Partch, Sun Ra and Fugs LPs, decades old, mint new. I looked up from this table of vinyl and, to my left, saw an old record player standing against the wall. Who do you think it belonged to? Good guess, you're right: Thomas Edison. Fanatic overload!
I have been gathering audio and other music-related materials for more than 30 years now and have seen some serious collections in my time, but the LOC is the biggest dog in the yard. I told one of the people there about some seven-inch punk rock acetates I had just acquired, and his eyes lit up. That's at least two people who care!