“Sound Off” promotes untapped library resources

By HermineBloom

Despite preconceived notions of a grandiose, historic building filled with thousands of archives and prehistoric desktop computers, the Chicago Public Library branches actually offer a surprising amount of modern resources that art students can utilize for free.

The “Sound Off” music competition is a tool used to launch the Not What You Think campaign, designed by the CPL and All Terrain Marketing to dispel library myths in light of a brand new music department on the 8th floor of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St. The music department is complete with practice rooms, modern sheet music, audiobooks, CD/DVD rentals and free wi-fi.

“The library came to us because they’re trying a new initiative to increase membership for a specific age range, which is the 25 to 35 age range,” said Bruce Ortiz, account manager at All Terrain Marketing.

From Aug. 27 – Sept. 27, Chicago musicians were asked to submit original compositions inspired by the city to the CPL for the “Sound Off” music competition. A panel of judges will filter through all of the submissions to decide on a winner.

“The library likes to form community and encourage creativity,” Ortiz said. “[We’re] offering a platform in which artists can create, as well as highlighting the music resources that are available, so we came up with this contest to achieve both of those goals.”

Submissions are no longer being accepted for the music competition, but those at the CPL are confident in the submissions they’ve received in the past month.

“[The music is] across the entire spectrum,” said Kendall Guiman, public relations coordinator at All Terrain. “There aren’t any two that are alike. It’s everyone from young to old—those who are rocking guitars to those who are playing mandolins.”

Rhymefest,a rapper and South Side native who’s a childhood friend of Kanye West, is one of the three judges. Chris Force, the publisher and editor of the Chicago-based Alarm magazine, and Jessica Hopper, author of The Girls’ Guide to Rocking, are also judges and supporters of CPL.

“Chris Force has been a really big fan of the library for a long time,” said Ruth Lednicer, CPL’s director of marketing. “He says that he was able to get Alarm magazine started by using our spaces here and our online services. He actually makes all of his employees get library cards.”

The grand prize winner will also win a studio package at Steve Albini’s recording studio, Electrical Audio. Albini was a member of the ’80s punk band Big Black and is currently a member of Shellac, as well as the engineer and owner of Electrical Audio.

“[Albini said] ‘If you want us to donate studio time we can. We’ll donate a sound engineer, the tapes, whatever you guys need,’” Ortiz said.

Lednicer said Albini is one of the CPL’s silent fans and was therefore eager to help the library’s cause.

In addition to free recording time, the grand prize winner will headline the “Sound Off” music competition event on Oct. 22 at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion in Millenium Park.

Everyone is encouraged to vote for the fan favorite from Sept. 28 – Oct. 3 at Not What You Think’s Web site. The fan favorite will be performing as the opening act at the Oct. 22 event.

Guiman said that the event is being held to hopefully find a really great hidden gem.

With the HWLC right in Columbia’s backyard, it makes sense to appeal to Columbia students in particular.

“We work with [Columbia’s] Fiction Writing Department and English Department all the time, which is more natural, but they don’t think about all that we offer your art students or your music students,” Lednicer said. “We have all of these great holdings a few blocks away for free.”

The “Sound Off” event will be held on Oct. 22 at Millenium Park. For more information, visit ChiPubLib.org/NotWhatYouThink/.