New CDs hit shelves of public libraries

Would Beethoven roll over in his grave knowing that his music is snuggled up on a shelf next to rapper Big Pun’s Yeeeah Baby? Conversely, Big Pun is probably more familiar with being flanked by voluptuous women than long-dead composers.

Any indignation suffered, however, is unavoidable when it means 665,000 free CDs for more than 1,200 library districts, school districts, colleges and universities across America—2,274 of which will go to the libraries of Butte County. The CDs are the result of a settlement in a lawsuit brought by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and 39 other states against five of the country’s largest CD distributors for allegedly fixing the prices of CDs. Although three million consumers did receive $67.4 million in refunds, providing CDs to schools and libraries seemed like a way everyone could benefit.

Butte County Library Director Nancy Brower is enthusiastic about the settlement.

“I think doing it this way makes sense,” she said. “People can actually apply for monetary compensation, but it’s less than $15, and it’s almost more effort to apply for it than it’s actually worth. But by donating to libraries, lots of people can enjoy [the CDs].”

The CDs will span almost every existing genre of music, with many enticing juxtapositions (Rage Against the Machine and Dolly Parton) to keep things interesting in the stacks.

“Even I recognized the names of most of the artists,” Brower said. “That was what told me we got good things.”

Though the range of music is anything but monotonous, current chart-toppers were conspicuously absent from the list of CDs.

“Nobody was so unrealistic that they thought we were going to get the 50 most popular CDs,” Brower said.

California did fare substantially better, however, than states back east, where the distribution started. Many of those states saw unreasonably high numbers of copies with the same title, so Lockyer made sure the multiple copies were allocated proportionally to the recipients.

Even so, the distribution still seems somewhat skewed—there are, for example, 14 copies of Christmas with Yolanda Adams—making it hard to ignore that the majority of the CDs appear to be the result of a good warehouse cleaning by many of the record companies.

Nevertheless, the general public is expected to get good use of the CDs simply because they’re readily available on the shelf.

“We currently have a program where the public can look in a catalogue and order CDs,” Brower said. “The fact that they will be on the shelf where people can walk right up to them and check them out will be great.”

The CDs are in the process of being catalogued and will be gradually making their appearances on shelves in Chico, Oroville and Paradise public libraries, where patrons are invited to check out anything that suits their musical fancy; be it Yanni or Jessica Simpson.