Monday, August 27, 2012

How the Library of Congress selects its artifacts

Most folks merely speculate idly; others are emboldened to ask the right question at the right moment.

This blog's May 23 entry discussed that day's breaking news, when the Library of Congress announced that the newest batch of 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" recordings — slated for permanent preservation — would include Guaraldi's complete score for the 1965 TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The honor itself is a very, very big deal. But I never considered the implications of the logical follow-up question: What, precisely, would the Library of Congress be storing, in order to properly preserve Guaraldi's work in the state-of-the-art Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, in Culpeper, Virginia? 

(As a droll sidebar, I'm sure I'm not alone in wondering whether such facilities resemble the wonderful final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark ... or perhaps the titular setting of the TV series Warehouse 13. And if the Packard Campus doesn't look like that, I'd rather not be told.)

Thomas G. Dennehy thought to investigate such matters. He asked the right question.

Best of all, he received an enthusiastic response that allowed him to make a simple yet historic gesture, which has given him an anecdote that, for the rest of his life, will allow him to dominate idle party conversations.

In Thomas' own rather clever words, his long-carefully-stored original vinyl copy of Guaraldi's album has become "the Charlie Browniest" Peanuts LP in history. You can read all about it — and even see the letter from Library of Congress spokesman Cary O'Dell — at Thomas' blog. It's a charming tale, and Thomas tells it quite well.

I can't help a tiny streak of envy, of course ... because, really, why the heck didn't I think to do that?

Like Charlie Brown, all I can do is sigh.

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