Do you hear what I hear? Woodberry Poetry Room to preserve rare recordings

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The Woodberry Poetry Room’s rich collection contains rare and one-of-a-kind recordings of some of the 20th century’s most important poets. But because many of these rare recordings exist on fragile cassettes or on transcription discs made of lacquered metal or glass prone to separation and decay, these voices have essentially been silenced – until now.

Thanks to an additional $1.1 million the Harvard College Library (HCL) has injected into collection development, ongoing efforts to preserve some of the Woodberry Poetry Room’s most fragile and important recordings are about to get a boost. The funds will also enhance a number of other projects and acquisitions across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ disciplines.

“Continuing scrutiny of our budget allowed us to repurpose some restricted funds in support of the collections,” said Dan Hazen, associate librarian of Harvard College for collection development. “We then invited all HCL units and selectors to submit projects and purchases for review. The proposals were made available for community comment, with funding recommendations determined through a competitive evaluation process. The Woodberry Poetry Room’s successful proposal will ensure that even more of its unique and fragile recordings are widely available to scholars and enthusiasts around the world.”