Merge Records donates its papers to UNC Library
By percy thrillington May 11, 2012 6:12PM
As one of the most vital and admirable record labels operating in independent music for the past 20-ish years, Merge Records has provided audiences with not just music (Superchunk, Spoon, Arcade Fire), but an admirable ethical and aesthetic legacy. Now, as Pitchfork reports, some of that legacy will be enshrined in the library of the label's hometown college, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Pretty august for a little record label, but then, they have managed to outlast much of the Goliath-y industry they were established as an alternative to, so maybe there's a lesson for everyone.
Merge Records have announced on their blog that the label will donate its archives to the University of North Carolina. The collection of "music, art, and other ephemera from 23 years of releasing music we love" will open to the public in 2013, and will be located at the Southern Folklife Collection at UNC's Wilson Library in Chapel Hill.
Merge was founded in 1989 in Chapel Hill by Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan of Superchunk. The label has released music by Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon, the Magnetic Fields, Destroyer, Lambchop, Dinosaur Jr., M. Ward/She & Him, Conor Oberst, and many, many more.
The Southern Folklife Collection at UNC was also opened in 1989. The non-circulating collection is dedicated to "all forms of southern musical and oral traditions" in the arts. According to the SFC website, the collection is "especially rich in materials documenting the emergence of old-time, country-western, hillbilly, bluegrass, blues, gospel, Cajun and zydeco musics" as well as the post-1950s folk revival.
It contains "photographs, periodicals, ephemera, manuscripts, video, posters, research files, and manuscript materials", including over 160,000 recordings on 78 rpm and 45 rpm discs, LPs, cassettes, CDs, reel-to-reel tape, cylinders, acetate discs, wire recordings, and more.
Steve Weiss, Curator of the Southern Folklife Collection, said, "We're deeply honored to work with Merge to preserve and provide access to their archives. The Merge Records Collection is an invaluable resource for the study of music, art, and culture of our region."