Music Collections in RTÉ Radio
The music collections of RTÉ Radio are managed, stored and accessed in the Sound Library and Radio Archive. Both facilities are located in the RTÉ Radio Centre in Donnybrook. The commercial recordings collection of the Sound Library is accessible through the Music PAL scheme.
The Sound Library, formerly the Gramophone Library, contains primarily commercially released music with smaller collections of spoken word material and sound effects. The collection is of great cultural value and historical significance, containing many rare recordings of value to broadcasters and researchers. The collection is also under good bibliographic control with two catalogues, a card catalogue and an electronic catalogue. Staff in the library accession and catalogue new acquisitions and carry out research for library users. The main formats are vinyl and CD.
The acquisition of CDs began in the 1980s and since the 1990s all accessions to the Sound Library have been on CD or, to a much lesser extent, on DVD. The collection now contains just over 90,000 discs shelved in various categories of music and catalogued in an electronic catalogue which can be accessed in the library. Categories in the collection are: Sopranos; Tenors; Baritones; Basses; Popular Singers; Vocal; Operas; Choral; Ensembles; Sacred/Secular Music; Musicals; Solo Instrumentalists; Jazz; Big Bands; Dance Music; South American/European; Old Time Dance; Film and Television Music/Themes; Light Orchestral Overtures; National Anthems; Military Bands; Chamber Orchestras; Symphony Orchestras; Symphonies; Concertos; Chamber Music; National Music (World); Spoken Word; Comedy; Plays and Short Stories; Educational; Children’s Stories.
The vinyl collection, located in the Vinyl Vault of the Radio Centre, contains 104,000 commercially released 12” albums and 7” singles acquired from the 1950s onwards. The collection is particularly strong on popular music, and also has significant quantities of classical and traditional music. A detailed card catalogue contains information on the contents of the Vinyl Vault. The categories are: Artists; Titles; Composers; Theatre Music; Film/Radio/TV Themes/Ballet Music; Opera; Irish Traditional Music; Church Music; Vocal; Jazz/Dance Bands; Pipe and Brass Bands/Military Music; Concertos/Symphonies; Chamber Music; Subject Catalogue; National Music; Speech; Sound Effects; Instrumentals.
The purchase of commercial music by RTÉ started at about the same time as broadcasting. By 1927 a small collection of 78 rpm shellac discs had been assembled and in 1934 the Gramophone Library was formally established. The collection was added to until the 1950s, when it was replaced by vinyl, by which point it had grown to some 40,000 discs. The collection is currently stored off-site and is not accessible under the MusicPAL scheme.
The Sound Archive
RTÉ’s Sound Archive contains unique recordings of musical performances from the 1930s to the present day. The Sound Archive is not part of MusicPAL but its collections can be researched through RTÉ’s Libraries and Archives website at www.rte.ie/libraries.