Music to Their Shelves Local Libraries Will Get Thousands of Free CDs

By Ahern, Sheila | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 5, 2004 | Go to article overview

Music to Their Shelves Local Libraries Will Get Thousands of Free CDs


Ahern, Sheila, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Sheila Ahern Daily Herald Staff Writer

Bob Watson can't predict Britney Spears' shelf life among teens in the future.

But he does fear Spears' life on his shelves will continue years after teens have taken down the pop star's posters and tossed her compact discs in piles occupied by Vanilla Ice and the Spice Girls.

"Call me cynical, but maybe in six months or a year no one will want her (compact) disc," said Watson, director of the Lake Villa District Library. "It's hard to know, but I guess we can't complain about the crumbs we're getting from the table."

Those "crumbs" are thousands of compact discs that will start rolling into local libraries this month. Earlier this year, the attorney general's office settled a lawsuit that accused the nation's five major record labels and three largest music retailers of price fixing. According to the settlement, the companies agreed to give local libraries, schools and other nonprofit groups $75.7 million worth of compact discs nationwide.

Statewide, about 243,650 compact discs will be shipped in the next couple of weeks, said Blake Harrop, a senior assistant attorney general with the attorney general's anti-trust department.

Illinois, Florida and New York were the first states to file the suit and eventually all 50 states joined in, Harrop said.

"We filed the claim under the anti-trust law saying that the music distributors illegally required retailers to set prices," he said. "My guess would be that sometime in the middle to end of July, each library system will receive thousands of compact discs ."

The 49 public libraries in the North Suburban Library System are expecting 12,500 CDs, said Judy Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the system representing libraries in suburban Cook, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.

The system is one of 12 state library systems funded by annual grants from the General Assembly and the office of Jesse White, the secretary of state and state librarian.

Hoffman is not sure how she will split up the CDs among libraries, but did say 60 percent of the 12,500 CDs will be popular culture and 40 percent will be everything else, including classical, jazz and holiday music.

"We are working with the attorney general's office, but I do think we'll get a list of what CDs we are getting ahead of time," Hoffman said.

While most librarians welcome the free CDs, others, like Watson, wonder if they will join other dust-gathers already on his shelves.

Watson would like to get CDs "with more of a lasting value," he said.

"I've read that some libraries are getting thousands of the same unwanted CDs," he said. "Whitney Houston doing 'God Bless America" is fine, but I'd like to see a more eclectic range. …

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