CLEVELAND, OH (AP).- There's always been room at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum for the exciting, most popular relics, like Michael Jackson's "Thriller" jacket and John Lennon's Sgt. Pepper uniform. But most of the not-so-flashy mementos were tucked away in storage.
Visitors will get a chance to see those hidden artifacts beginning later this year, when the museum opens its library and archives in a recently completed high-tech building it shares with Cuyahoga Community College's creative arts programs.
The museum has begun moving photos, recordings, albums and covers, oral histories, scrap books and other packed materials from its iconic glass pyramid overlooking Lake Erie to the new, low-key building two miles away.
The items also include such gems as Jim Morrison's first poem, video from the 1981-82 Rolling Stones tour and personal letters from the Grateful Dead, Whitney Houston, Patti Smith and others. Posters of Alan Freed, the DJ credited with coining the phrase rock 'n' roll, and aging LP records also will find a home in the $12 million building. The records will be digitalized and available for listening.
The library will be the most comprehensive repository of rock history, with materials donated by hall of fame inductees and wannabes who see it as a way to preserve their stories, said Deborah Campana, librarian of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Beyond its research value to scholars, the library should appeal to rock fans, Campana said.
"They've grown up loving it and when they see the artifacts associated with it, it takes their appreciation to a whole new level," she said.
Architect Robert Madison designed the building that will house the library and archives. Madison, who collaborated with I.M. Pei on the rock hall design, said there was never a goal to create another rock shrine.
The library will not focus on individual artists in rock history, Madison said. Its primary goal is to provide a place where visitors can "study the history and the philosophy of the people who lived in that period," he said.
The rock hall and community college plan collaborations, such as training student interns how to preserve half-century old recordings.
Students may have a chance to experience the excitement of finding a hidden treasure when they open a box of donated items for the first time, said Andy Leach, director of the library and archives.
"It can be daunting, but it can also be very thrilling to see some of these things for the first time that are going to really help people and educate people about rock 'n' roll," Leach said.
Tracy Marie, 34, a Cuyahoga Community College recording arts student and professional singer, said she hopes the rock hall-college collaboration will encourage young artists to aspire to have their campus studio work enshrined in the archive.
"Eventually the stuff we're making there is going to be archived someday," she said.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.