You already know that your record collection is not just about the music. The joy of vinyl is that it gives pleasure to every sense. From the evocative smell of the vinyl, the feel of the disc between your hands, the noise as you place the disk on the turntable and the frisson of anticipation as you gently place the needle down.
And when it comes to sight, it’s not just about the sleeves, but also the storage. However big your collection is, the right storage can ensure you get pleasure from your records even when you aren’t playing them and are keeping them in the best possible condition.
How to store and organise your collection
Ask most people how they store their vinyl, and it will be on a shelf. And with good reason. Storing your records vertically on a shelf is the best way, it avoids them supporting weight, shows them off, and means that each record is immediately accessible. But make sure it’s the right shelf!
Vinyl has no problem with room temperature, but make sure the temperature is relatively consistent, don’t use a shelf above a radiator or that catches the sun for part of the day, which can also cause fading. And beware of any moisture risk. While this is not a problem in most cases, a room that suffers from condensation is probably not a good home for your records. And, ideally, use a wooden shelf, which minimises any risk of static build-up.
And when it comes to organisation, we think you can’t beat a simple A-Z by artist, then discography. Ultimately, this is a matter of preference, some people like to sort by genre, some might even like the visual effect of sleeve colour. But when it comes to finding records, A-Z wins hands down. In the worst-case scenario, you have to look in two places — did you use ’S’ for Stevie, or ‘W’ for Wonder? — and not wonder which genre or label you put it under last time, or the exact name of that obscure album title. There are plenty of products to help, and a quick search will help you find the right dividers for you, whether it’s plain for your own labels or minimalist pre-cut letters.
Use proper sleeves and inner sleeves
There’s a lot of debate about the type of outer sleeve to use, and whether sealable flaps are good or bad. And at the risk of annoying everyone with views, we’re going to say that it’s down to what you prefer. As long as the room conditions your collection is in are good, the type of sleeve you use shouldn’t matter, just that you use one.
But whatever your approach, it’s worth the investment of time and money to use high-quality products. An LP will spend far more time stored and in the sleeve than doing anything else, so why would you skimp?
We have started to import Blake sleeves from the EU for our subscription boxes. We felt the convenience of no flaps was more beneficial for items at this pricepoint- where higher value records you may be more anxious of dust potentially getting in the way.
We have plans to add these to our store in the future, but there are plenty of alternatives until then; we previously used sleeves from SpinCare, a UK-based small business we highly recommend.
For the inner sleeves, we use anti-static sleeves. There are a few reasons for this. First, paper sleeves have a lovely tactile quality, but can degrade over time and leave a paper-fibre residue that affects the LP. They can also be abrasive and are a cause of the friction that can build up static. Again, SpinCare have great anti-static sleeves, but there are plenty of options that can meet your preferences, even those that combine an anti-static inner with an archive paper outside, so you can keep that feeling of the original paper.
We put the LP behind the outer sleeve and then store them together in the Blake sleeve. This means its just a case of finding your record, sliding it out from the top- and away you go. Again, it’s a matter of personal preference how you store your LPs, and that might come down to how much you see yourself as an archivist of your vinyl!
However, storing this way minimises the damage that can come from the wear and tear of removing and replacing the album from the sleeve, keeping everything in pristine condition and maintain your collection’s value.
Categorise it with a Discogs account
Discogs is trying to build the world’s biggest user-created music database and marketplace. Imagine a music Wikipedia with a shop! But how you use it is up to you. Many sign up for an account (it’s free) just to catalogue their collection. But you can take it much further.
The cataloguing function is more than a simple listing of what you own. You can use it to organise your collection how you want, add notes on the condition of your album, or even just anecdotes of how you came by it. It will give you an idea of your collection’s value, so whether you are looking to downsize or just need to know how much insurance you need, Discogs will help you.
And if you are looking to explore further, Discogs can help you discover new artists and labels, using the ratings and recommendations of other users to find music you will enjoy. Then, when you are looking for that elusive LP, the marketplace and waiting list functions mean you can expand your collection from within Discogs itself.
Plus, it forms the heart of a vibrant community of vinyl lovers. So, whatever your interest, there will be a group or forum of like-minded people on Discogs.