A question many record collectors ask is, where can I put all these records? If you’ve asked yourself this then you’re in luck, as we’ll be doing our best to cover storage options and tips. We’ll begin by outlining the proper, recommended, government-approved guidelines for how to store vinyl records. In a separate post, we’ll look at some vinyl record storage options that meet these criteria and will look nice in your humble abode. I know some of you have stellar storage setups, as evidenced by the 5K+ posts tagged with #iloveDiscogs on Instagram. If you have recommendations on vinyl record storage cabinets, shelves and the like, feel free to drop them in the comments below. You might see your pick mentioned, with credit, in the next post!
Now, let’s check in with the consummate professionals of media storage, the US Federal Government. Yes, you read that right. They just so happen to have one of the largest collections of vinyl records in the world, safely nestled in the remarkably dust-free archives of the Library of Congress. We reached out to staff librarians through the Recorded Sound Research Centerand utilized their guide to storing audio visual materials to learn how to store vinyl records properly.
Luckily, a collector has an advantage when it comes to storing vinyl records. Vinyl records are the most stable physical sound recording format developed to date (tally 1 for vinyl in the great format debate). Unlike tapes and CDs, they can last 100 years in a controlled environment. However, a wide range of variables, from dust and foreign matter to heat and pressure, can cause distortion and surface noise in playback. Also note that although vinyl records are relatively hardy, record covers are not. You’ll want to keep in mind the fragility of the cardboard sleeve as much as the record itself.
Casual and Household Vinyl Record Storage
We’ll start with the four core tenets of sound vinyl storage; heat, light, humidity and pressure.
Though less problematic than the rules above, there are a few other factors to consider when storing vinyl records.
As a rule of thumb, attics and basements are typically not the best places to store vinyl records, though there are exceptions to this. Neither are non-climate controlled storage units. My parents made the mistake of storing their collection in a non-climate-controlled storage unit in Texas one summer. None of the discs made it out in a playable form. Try to find a place that is relatively clean, cool and stable.
What to Store Vinyl Records In
Now that you know the requirements for the location you should aim for while storing your records, let’s talk a bit about what vinyl records should be stored in.
Overflow & Long-Term Record Storage
Many of us are at a place in our life where we have run out of room in our living quarters to store all of the records we have acquired. At this point, some tough decisions must be made: Which ones should be kept? Which ones can be let go? For those who cannot trim their collection, overflow storage becomes a necessity. Whether it’s a basement, attic, storage unit, or hole in your backyard, there are some precautions you can take to ward off potential disasters.
Okay, now you know the cardinal rules to follow while storing records. You’re welcome! While you’re here, jot down some notes, or refresh your memory, on how to properly handle vinyl records.
One final tip – keep your machines clean and well maintained. Make sure your mat is dust free and replace your needles when they start to get worn folks.
That’s it! This vinyl record storage post turned out a bit longer than expected, but I learned a lot along the way and I hope you did too. Don’t forget that this is just part one in a two-part series. I’ll be reviewing some vinyl record storage cabinets and shelves in the next post. Send me your leads if you got ’em and thanks for reading!
I want to give credit to the Library of Congress and Reference Librarian Harrison Behl for assisting with this post. They were a huge help in leading me to informative resources and with answering specific questions I had. If you’re curious about the work they do or have questions that weren’t answered in the post, check out the Recorded Sound Research Center, where you can read more and reach out to librarians for assistance. As a reminder for those living in the United States, your local librarians are tremendous resources whose job is to help you find information. If you ever have a question, stop by your local library and you might be surprised by the help you receive!
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