Lou Reed archive to go public at New York library

Lou Reed revolutionized the music world with The Velvet Underground

The New York Public Library has obtained the archives of Lou Reed, with plans to make the legendary underground rocker's legacy as open as possible.

The city's free-to-the-public library system, best known for its imposing main building on Fifth Avenue, announced the acquisition Thursday on what would have been Reed's 75th birthday.

"What better place to have this than in the heart of the city he loved the best?" Reed's widow Laurie Anderson, herself a prominent experimental musician, said in a statement.

"My dream has always been to make Lou's work completely accessible to the public. You don't have to have any special credentials," she said.

The Lou Reed Archive includes some 3,600 audio and 1,300 video recordings as well as 300 feet (90 meters) worth of papers and photographs, according to the library.

The New York Public Library immediately showcased the new collection with a selection of his notebooks and correspondence going on display to the public for the first time through March 20.

Anderson had put together the Lou Reed Archive -- which reflects his music but also features his other interests, including tai chi -- after the rocker died in 2013 from liver disease.

"It takes awhile to see a life as a whole and now that the first step of the archive is complete we can step back and begin to see some dazzling new patterns in the work Lou made in his long and intense life as an artist," she said.

Reed revolutionized the music world with The Velvet Underground and later as a solo artist, infusing into rock an aesthetic sensibility from the modern art world.

Starting with the 1967 debut album "The Velvet Underground and Nico," which was produced by pop art master Andy Warhol, Reed took up lyricism on subjects such as drug use and sexual fetishism that then were rarely touched by musicians.

The establishment of the Lou Reed Archive, whose financial details were not disclosed, comes amid a push to preserve the legacies of major musicians.

Bob Dylan last year reached an agreement to keep his archive at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, already a hub for the works of pioneering folk singer Woody Guthrie.

Bruce Springsteen more recently agreed to set up his archive at Monmouth University near his working-class hometown in New Jersey.