The New York Public Library’s Lou Reed Archive, including songs recorded in 1958 by his Freeport High School band The Shades, will be available to the public starting Friday.
And to celebrate, the library will offer 6,000 limited-edition Lou Reed library cards, featuring photographer Mick Rock’s iconic image of him, starting Friday at the NYPL’s Library for the Performing Arts at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza. (Any New York State resident can get an NYPL library card. And if you already have one, you can transfer to a new Reed one for $1.)
An exhibit marking the 30th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s “New York” album, featuring items from the archive, will also open on Friday at the Library for the Performing Arts. On March 28, the library will host a listening room installation at the Astor Gallery featuring song demos, studio sessions, live performances and interviews from the archive.
Reed’s widow Laurie Anderson said the archive is “a panoramic picture of Lou’s music, pictures, friendships, writing, tai chi and performances as well as a recreation of the scenes and cities he worked in and loved,” when she announced that the library had acquired it in 2017. The archive, which follows the Freeport native through his time as a staff songwriter at Pickwick Records, as part of the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, includes about 300 linear feet of photographs and paper records ranging from original lyrics and poetry to his handwritten tai-chi notes, as well as approximately 3,600 audio and 1,300 video recordings. His own photography, as well as his personal collections of books and 45s, are also part of the archive.