What does paradise look like in your imagination? Renowned author Jorge Luis Borges said, “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” The smell of color faded books, a tranquil atmosphere, and bookshelves tall enough to reach the ceiling. These images are likely what a booklover would imagine paradise to look like. However, there is one unique library that contradicts each of those images. At this library, a DJ plays music, bookshelves are filled with old vinyl records, and people don’t study or read but listen to music. This SMT reporter visited Hyundai Card Music Library, a paradise for music lovers.
Hyundai Card Music Library is a library of music throughout the years. It has over 10,000 LP records and books and magazines about music. LP a.k.a. vinyl stands for long play record. Hyundai Card Music Library is one of the many places visitors can experience listening to LP records. One of the simplest ways to reach the library from Sookmyung Women's University is to take Line 6 from Hyochang Park station, and then get off at Hangangjin station, exit 3. After walking straight for about 7 minutes, the Hyundai Card Music Library will appear. It is quite easily recognized because the library is in a tall glass windowed building. To enter the Hyundai Card Music Library, visitors need a Hyundai Card. Visitors also need to bring some form of identification to verify age and other details. Card members may bring two non-member guests with them as long as they are older than nineteen. The library opens from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays to Saturdays, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. It is closed every Monday. Visitors may take photos using their smartphones, but people are not allowed to bring in professional photography equipment. Prior to going, visitors should visit the library’s website if they have any concerns.
On the first floor is the reception desk and café. After going through identification check, visitors receive a pass for the library and are directed to an elevator to reach the record library collection. The receptionist requires you to leave your bags and checks your identification. After the check, visitors are free to bring their belongings like smartphones and wallets into the library. Upon reaching the second floor of the library, this reporter’s heart raced with anticipation.
It's Just Rock 'n' Roll
Immediately upon the door opening, the library amazed this reporter. There were rows and rows of bookshelves of vinyl records classified by genre and age. Also, the interior is refined and inviting. The second floor contains LP records from the 1950s to present-day, and they are divided into five different genres. Upstairs, there is a complete collection of the famous music magazine ‘Rolling Stone,’ other various music magazines and books, and Korean music and soundtracks. The nine turntables were all taken by early arrived visitors, so this reporter had to wait in a queue to gain access. The Library limits weekend and holiday visitors to 30-minutes of individual usage, but people can register for additional time at the librarian desk.
Listening to vinyl records on a turntable is one experience every visitor must do when visiting the music library. First, visitors must choose the LP records they wish to listen to. If guests already know what they are looking for, they should check the official website or do a search on the library search engine underneath the stairway to make sure it’s available. People are free to select a maximum of three LPs at once. This reporter highly recommends asking for help from the library staff in locating the records because the collection is enormous. The staff will gladly help locate the records and even explain how to read the shelving numbering system. The third step is to visit the librarian desk and register for an individual listening timeslot. If a turntable is available, the staff member will immediately guide you to it. If this is your first time, don’t worry. Many people are first-timers. The staff will brief you on usage and also demonstrate how to use it. There is also a step-by-step instruction attached to the side of every turntable. Basically, what one needs to do is to put on the headphones and control the volume.
This reporter felt the sound of music from a LP record was sensational. As the record started to spin, the sound of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’, a song of Oasis’s ‘Definitely Maybe’ album hit her ear. The song was more powerful and distinct than the reporter heard in the past. Especially, the sounds of the individual instruments were audible. This SMT reporter was fully engulfed in the song until it ended. ‘Shakermaker’ was the next track on the album. Though it is not a favorite of this SMT reporter, the sound quality was surprisingly pleasing and better than listening to the song on an AirPod. The last song on the record side was ‘Live Forever’, and it was simply breathtaking. After listening to all songs on the side, SMT reporter flipped the record over to hear some songs on the other side. At first, it was awkward and this reporter felt a bit cautious about handling the LPs, but it was also exciting. The entire experience feels as if one is actually touching the music. The second album this SMT reporter selected was ‘Mylo Xyloto’ by Coldplay. The album sleeve was colorful and a work of art itself. The fresh feeling this SMT reporter experienced may be due to the quality record player equipment, which set the mood and makes one focus on the music.
Maybe You're the Same As Me
This SMT reporter highly recommends visiting ‘Vinyl & Plastic’, the offline record shop next to the library after visiting the library. It offers customers a wide selection of LP records, CDs, and cassette tapes. Musical equipment like turntables and headphones, and artist merchandise are also sold there. Moreover, the record shop offers customers a selection of 200 various artists’ albums from which to choose from and listen to on a limited number of turntables. If you don’t have a Hyundai Card, this is another way to experience listening to records. The shop also provides customers lots of chances to use CD players. Even though the shop offers discounts to Hyundai Card users, the products are quite expensive. Nevertheless, window shopping is just as enjoyable. This SMT reporter had a lot of fun and wishes to revisit the library on a weekday when it will be less busy. Rather than just listening to music, how about experiencing it at the record library?