DC Punk Archive

Full disclaimer here. This blog post is incredibly self indulgent.

I am a big fan of punk music and especially the DC scene.  When I saw that the DC library was collecting and archiving this section of American music for a special archive I was intrigued.

I realise this music is not everyone’s cup of tea but I have always been drawn to the DIY ethic of punk and these artists who have a no-holds-barred attitude . Some may not like HOW they say their messages, but in my mind that is beside the point. The point is that these artists have parts of their reality they want to comment on and they aren’t afraid to do it. Whether it’s  a song, a painting, a poem, they don’t care if their work is good enough for the masses, they just need to get it out there. It is creation without fear of rejection.

When news of this archive came across my desk I must admit I was a little bit suspicious. We have all seen how the ‘look’ has become so ubiquitous that most children has dressed up as a punk at least once. I was fearful that the messages behind the movement might be glossed over in favour of the more sensational fashions. I has some other questions. Were they planning to engage with the current punk scene or just look back at the history? Would the cover more than Fugazi? Would they look at the scene as a whole or focus just focus on the music?

But am so happy to see that The DC Punk Archive is amazing. I should never have doubted my librarian brethren for one moment. (please forgive me DC Public Library…)

As this report from the BBC shows, the pieces in the collection are treated with the same respect as other culturally significant documents.

The collection is part of the library’s Special Collections and holds items like, fliers, posters, zines, LPs, set lists, t-shirts, stickers and more. All are “are housed and handled according to best archival practices” so generations to come can enjoy them.

The library has held concerts in the basement featuring local punk bands and are also working with the music community to “explore avenues of collaboration and resource sharing”. This is a living and breathing (screaming?) collection.

While libraries do normally support their local community , its wonderful to see DC library embracing the parts of their community that are a bit more fringe. If you are intrigued too, you can search the archive here, much of it is digitized. Also, you can get updates about by following the Archive on Twitter.

-Amy Barker ILN Program Coordinator (who is going to spend the next few hours looking at the fliers in this collection)


  1. Please attach the link to the BBC report. The embed link is broken.
    Love this passion behind this post, Amy!

    1. Thanks for the heads up about the link Karen. All fixed now. It’s http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30821333

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