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At the Westport Library, you can check out books, and record an album, too

Sunflower Bean performs at Verso Studios_Westport Library during VersoFest 2023.
Chad Anderson
Westport Library
Sunflower Bean performs at Verso Studios_Westport Library during VersoFest 2023.

Public Libraries are constantly evolving, searching for ways to serve their communities with new programs and new technology.

“Libraries are institutions of life-long learning and knowledge,” said Bill Harman, executive director of the Westport Library. “What we are trying to do is evolve, so we’re using technology so we can connect with a broader segment of the community, people who are interested in books, but other means of knowledge and information.”

To that end, the Westport Library rolled out a new, independent record label last year. Verso Records’ mission is to give talented musicians a leg up in the music industry, as well as give library members the chance to learn about sound production in a state-of-the-art facility.

The services aren’t free, although Westport Library members can use the studios at a reduced rate. Verso also offers free classes on documentary filmmaking and podcasting.

Earlier this month, Verso distributed its first vinyl record. “Volume One” is a compilation of songs by local musicians. The Westport Library says it marks the first time a library has recorded, produced and distributed its own vinyl record.

Danielle Capalbo is the lead singer and guitarist for the New Haven-based rock trio Daniprobably, whose track “Cowboy” is included on “Volume One.” Capalbo said she was looking for an old school approach to recording the song. She said Verso did not disappoint.

“You know normally when you’re recording an album, it’s in pieces,” said Capalbo. “Each member of the band records their own track separately, and then it’s mixed together. Being able to record in this very old school way, you know with the band, all at once, live, was really, really special.”

Travis Bell is the Audio Studio manager at Verso records. He said the library’s vast facilities and integration of technology allowed the bands to be recorded live.

“No overdubs, no pitch correction, no punch-ins,” said Bell. “We didn’t piecemeal something together to get these flawless performances. We captured a moment in time from each of these artists.”

Verso Records plans to follow up “Volume One” with “Volume Two,” another compilation of local musicians.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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