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Exploring the Collection: Readings and Recordings

Monday September 12th, 2022

Have you ever heard a song and wondered what the artist could have been thinking when they made it? Or seen a film and been curious why certain choices were made? The Dauphin County Library System has many collections that help members dive deeper into topics, and for movies and music, the Readings and Recordings collection is perfect!  The Readings and Recordings collection is made of CDs and DVDs that are accompanied by books about the media you’ve chosen. You get to experience the movie or music itself and learn more about the content, the people, and the circumstances around its creation.  

Before deciding to write this post, I had never actually used this collection. It mostly comes up when we get asked where the RR call number is when someone is hunting for a specific item. Very occasionally, members will check one of these items out because it is the only version of the movie they wanted that was available. To get a better grasp, I decided to check out a couple myself and see what the collection was all about.   

This topic happily coincided with a personal interest in trying out some music from the 60s-80s, and this collection has some excellent offerings for those decades, including titles that are often considered classics for their influential roles in music history. I personally settled on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  


After the first few songs, I was glad this was the format I decided to experience Pink Floyd with. Some of the music sounded how I expected music from the 70s to sound, but there was also a lot I didn't expect. Several songs have instrumental intros that last for several minutes before there are any vocals, in some, there are some jarring noises, and distressed voices show up in multiple tracks. Some songs seem to go on for exceptionally long, while the first track covers maybe a minute. Unrelated to the music itself, when I mentioned I was listening to the album, I also had multiple people tell me I should listen to it while watching The Wizard of Oz, which is an unusual response to hear repeatedly, and I was curious.I was therefore extremely grateful to have a book I could turn to for context and explanations. 

The book, by journalist John Harris, told me about the inspiration for the music, about the lives of the musicians before and after its release, the history of the Dark Side of the Moon, and its impact, and did mention The Wizard of Oz theory. I feel like I got much more out of this iconic album than I would have without that book to accompany it.  

The DVD version of this collection I decided to try out was Back to the Future! I had seen this one before, but it’s just a very re-watchable movie. So, what did the Readings part of Readings and Recordings contribute for media I’d already seen?  


Quite a lot, it turns out! Much like the CD version of the RR collection, this book provided some background not just for the movie, but for the individuals who made it possible. It also touched on the impact the movie had on film and culture. This book dives into a more academic analysis of the film, in ways such as identifying the 'teen culture,’ within the story, and the way the story portrays the 1950s in comparison to the 1980s. This selection is a little denser, but sure to be fascinating to anyone interested in film and literary analysis.  

This is a fun collection, and you’re sure to find some new titles to discover and familiar ones to dive deeper into. Some of the Library’s selections include:  


Young Frankenstein 


The Princess Bride 


Pan’s Labyrinth 


AC/DC’s Highway to Hell 

Radio City 

Born in the USA 


ABBA gold 

So many good options! If you are unsure, ask someone at your library to show you where this collection is located or browse and request more selections online.  Have fun exploring! 

Amber is a Library Supervisor

The above piece represents the views of the author and is meant to inspire dialogue and increase understanding and a sense of community. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of The Library. Members are welcome to comment below or contact us privately by using our online contact form >