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The Von Freeman Memorial Lending Library

WELCOME. Boasting a collection of recordings and books that exceeds 7,000 titles, the “We Always Swing”® Jazz Series launched its public “Lending Library” on July 1, 2013. A year later, as part of the organization’s 20th Anniversary Celebration and Retrospective, the library’s official name became the Earle LaVon Freeman Memorial Lending Library. Named in honor of the great Chicago tenor saxophonist [b. 10/3/23 – d. 8/11/12] who had a vast and seminal influence upon generations and legions of musicians, the Freeman library is intended to be an educational tool and resource for all to enjoy.

Freeman, the musician, willingly and tirelessly, shared seven decades of knowledge and experience. He ran, on a weekly, ongoing basis, one of Chicago’s most famous jam sessions, which took place at The Apartment Lounge (subsequently The New Apartment Lounge). Between the informality of his jam sessions and the formality of performances, Freeman mentored hundreds if not thousands of younger musicians — many who have now long-established themselves among jazz’s best players.

The Freeman Memorial Lending Library constantly grows, the collection increasing almost daily. Reflecting its namesake’s historical breadth and scope, the library’s titles run from jazz's turn-of-the-20th-century earlier beginnings right up to the present. No matter what style of jazz you prefer, or whatever mood you are in, users can find titles in the Freeman Memorial Lending Library.

The library’s raison d’être is to have the collection serve as a community resource — a spot where people visit the Jazz Series and listen to selections and/or peruse jazz-related literature on site. Initially seeking to attract younger audiences and students, the Jazz Series created an Annual Membership Program that allowed such listeners to borrow titles on a weekly basis as well as earn the right to purchase half-priced Jazz Series concert tickets. Subsequently, the Jazz Series extended library memberships — with privileges based on donor level — to the general public. Student and public Memberships remain available to all.

In 2016, the Jazz Series embarked on a large-scale effort to digitally catalog the library. Spearheaded by Chief Librarian Brock Jones, the collection’s content can now be easily researched by computer — both at and away from the Jazz Series. The entire collection is organized not simply alphabetically by artist or ensemble, but includes release dates, song titles, individual musicians’ names and other content.

This is a one-of-a-kind project — certainly in Columbia, mid-Missouri and perhaps the entire state and beyond: an all-jazz “Lending Library” that allows the entire community to take advantage of its contents.

As one might imagine, the “Lending Library” takes quite a bit of upkeep — everything from re-filing titles, to entering new data, to purchasing software, to keeping track of membership cards, to purchasing acquisitions, etc. All-in, the “Lending Library” is going to take some project-specific funds to maintain. But, how could it not be worth it?

Annual Student/Public Membership Levels & Perks*

[*In Addition To Any Other Premiums Offered At Time of Donation.]

Beginning January 1, 2018, we simplified Lending Library membership. Click here to become a Lending Library Member. Please note the following Support Levels and Perks:

Student Memberships $25+

  • Check out up to 2 CDs/LPs per week
  • Access library’s in-depth catalog at the Jazz Series
  • Half-price tickets to select concerts [Subject To Availability]
  • Priority volunteer opportunity for Jazz Series Concerts/Events
  • Invitations to select member-only events and receptions
  • Basic Annual Public Library Membership $60+

  • Check out up to 2 CDs/LPs per week
  • Access library’s in-depth catalog at the Jazz Series
  • Sustainable Individual Library Membership $350+

  • Check out up to 5 CDs/LPs per week
  • Access through the Jazz Series to library’s in-depth catalog.
  • Receive Best of Von Freeman 2 CD/DVD Box Set
  • Invitations to member-only events
  • Receive personalized name plate placed on Lending Library shelf.
  • Lifetime Individual Membership $2,500+ Annually for 4 years/$10,000+ Accrued Contribution.

  • Check out up to 10 CDs/LPs for two (2) weeks
  • Access through the Jazz Series to library’s in-depth catalog.
  • Receive Best of Von Freeman 2 CD/DVD Box Set
  • Invitations to member-only events
  • Receive personalized name plate placed on Lending Library shelf.

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    The "We Always Swing”® Jazz Series is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation administered by “We Always Swing,” Inc.,