02/28/2013 10:39 am ET Updated Apr 30, 2013

Freegal: Emphasis on the the Free Public Library of Cool

By Glen Creason with Marc Horton
Los Angeles Public Library Reference Librarians

This is a shout-out about Freegal (login with your LAPL library card number and PIN), the digital music service provided by the Los Angeles Public Library, that lets you download three songs per week for free and without any DRM restrictions.

I write here about my experience not as an administrator since I am not one of those, or even as a librarian although I am one of those. I offer this opinion only as an impenitent bin rat that has collected songs going back to the original days of vinyl. I am joined here by the most knowledgeable younger generation bin rat I know in assessing the values of said service without any discussion of the overall budget or philosophical dialogue on the subject. We are here to talk very cool songs that library users can download in view of possibly buying "records" to support the artists featured in Freegal. Once upon a time, I listened to the radio to make song epiphanies, but slowly the flow of discoveries from programs that introduced listeners to great sounds from the past and present have dwindled away to a dribble. Here, the library steps in to create musical synapses.

Back in the days of vinyl records; at places like Aaron's or Pooh Bah or Rhino or Rockaway or way back to Field of Zaad there was a sound in the stores of a soft flap-flap-flap. Men, women and even kids flipped through records in search of that great find, even lowering their breathing like yogis to achieve a higher level of concentration. Later, it was the tap of CD cases. And now it is just the hopeful tap of a finger on a mouse. While there is the absence of the atmosphere of olden days of a shop with arrogant clerks, today's music gem-seekers finally have an advantage over the old-timers sweating over musty bins of vinyl. The proof is in the prime cuts that can be plucked from the tall tree of free music downloads on the library's website under the e-media link. Once, Mister Horton, my co-conspirator described us as sons of different musical mothers, and while I am of another generation, I believe we are related by a common good vibration. Going by age, Marc's finds appear first and are followed by one of mine.

To see more of old Glen's finds, visit his blog.

Freegal: The Free Public Library of Cool