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A $2.3 million collection of rare albums is headed to Stanford University after SDSU agreement collapses

George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

SAN DIEGO — Hello, Stanford, goodbye, San Diego State University.

Stanford University has acquired the $2.3 million vinyl record collection of San Diegan Bram Dijkstra, just 11 months after a signed 2020 agreement for the one-of-a-kind collection to go to SDSU’s Love Library imploded.

Numbering more than 8,000 jazz, blues, gospel, soul and reggae discs that span nearly a century, The Dijkstra Black Music Collection will be housed at Stanford’s Archive of Recorded Sound.

“We’re very excited!” Tamar Barzel, who heads Stanford’s Music Library and Archive of Recorded Sound, said Tuesday. “Bram’s collection is a remarkable document of jazz, Black American music and Jamaican reggae, and his curatorial vision is really special in its depth, breadth and scope.”

Stanford’s excitement is shared by Dijkstra, a retired University of California, San Diego art professor, and his wife, literary agent Sandy Dijkstra.

“All’s well that ends well,” the couple — speaking almost in unison — said in a joint interview Monday.


But the collection’s move to Stanford — like the sometimes-acrimonious 2021 exchanges between top SDSU administrators and the Dijkstras that precipitated it — has dismayed some key SDSU faculty members.

“I am devastated and extremely disappointed in San Diego State University’s monumental missed opportunity to bring in this major collection, which is one of the largest, most comprehensive Black music collections in the world,” said Adisa Alkebulan, chair of SDSU’s Department of Africana Studies.

“Our university’s (faculty) Senate last year voted overwhelmingly in support of SDSU acquiring the Dijkstras’ collection. The fact that SDSU simply didn’t want it — I took it personally as an African American,” Alkebulan said.

“It’s a great loss for SDSU,” said Rob Ray, the school’s now-retired special collections and university archives director.


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