Sno-Isle tones down the trendy CDs


Herald Writer

Blink, and Blink 182 may be gone.

Sno-Isle Regional Library System is changing its policy for buying music. Officials are saying "ta ta" to the trendy. Now, new additions to the system’s music collection will be limited to critically recognized titles and established artists.

"We don’t want to spend our limited funds on artists who are going to be ephemeral," said Pat Shaw, media librarian.

The change was made because CDs have been flying off the shelves. But they haven’t been boomeranging back.

"A lot of CDs get checked out and never returned. And just as many get stolen," Shaw said. "If it’s a popular title, we’re very likely to lose a significant percentage" of copies.

This year, the library system expected to spend $3 million on materials. About 12 percent of the budget is spent on nonprint formats, such as videocassettes, talking-book cassettes and music.

Music purchases are the smallest part of the nonprint budget, Shaw said.

"We spent roughly $50,000 total on music CDs, for both adults and children, for the entire system," she said.

Given limited funds, library officials are hoping to build a collection more retrospective in nature. Translation: old, established, or out of the mainstream.

So long, Spice Girls. And take your hip-hop homeys with you.

Truth be told, the policy change will affect not only pop and rap, but also blues, rock, easy listening, country western and contemporary Christian music.

"We’re not singling out any type of music here," Shaw said.

Shaw will consult standard music guides and industry magazine reviews for guidance. Sales charts will also play a role.

"Some of it is definitely going to be selective," she said. "For a new artist, we’re probably not going to buy it when it’s brand-new, but we’re going to watch it."

"If there’s a new artist on the scene and they stay on the charts long enough and are obviously going to be a pretty standard fixture for quite a while, we would consider buying," she said.

New purchases won’t just be an artist’s latest, but the greatest. That may mean passing over Frank Zappa’s "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" (four stars) for his "We’re Only in It for the Money" (five stars).

Shaw was reluctant to say who might not make the cut.

"Two years ago, I would have said Backstreet Boys. We would have waited for them to prove themselves," Shaw said. "Now they’ve had two huge, really nationwide, albums."

Local bands will get a break, though. Special consideration will be given to music with regional interest, like Seattle’s The Presidents of the United States of America.

Library patrons may notice the changes in the years ahead as the collection evolves under the new direction.

"We hope they will find more comprehensive music collections with many more standard titles in them, with a larger selection of some of the less popular genres," Shaw said, like folk, world beat and theater music.

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