2. A national collection of commercial recordings

This chapter is based on the assumption that every country should preserve a complete or representative collection of its national record production for posterity; an audio counterpart of the national library. However, much of the advice given here is equally applicable to other situations, such as specialized sound archives wishing to build up a collection of commercial recordings related to their field of study.

The idea of a national collection of commercial recordings was first introduced in France, where the Phonothèque Nationale was founded in the 1930s. It has become part of the national library, the Bibliothèque Nationale. In the United Kingdom, the British Institute of Recorded Sound collects not only commercial recordings but also wildlife sounds, documentary recordings, folk music and broadcasts. In Sweden, the Arkivet för Ljud och Bild is the central archive for commercial recordings, radio and television broadcasts, and films. In Denmark, the Nationa1diskoteket is part of the National Museum. In the United States, the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress was established in 1978, combining a number of previously existing archives into one unit. There are also several other important American collections of commercial recordings which specialize in particular types of music, such as the John Edwards Memorial Foundation at the University of California, Los Angeles (country music), the Rodgers and Hammerstein archives at the New York Public Library (popular music) and the Yale University collection of historical recordings (opera).

The above examples show that it is not possible to say how the national record collection should be organized. It can be an independent body or part of a larger institution. There are obviously several alternative models. The important thing is that some institution or institutions should bear the responsibility for this task, the scale of which may be judged from the history of the record industry.