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CLIR Awards $656,235 for Recordings at Risk

May 1, 2020—The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) today announced the award of more than $650,000 to fund 20 Recordings at Risk projects. This seventh cohort of recipients will build on the work of the 90 previously funded projects, which, through digital preservation, have already saved more than 17,200 at-risk audio or visual recordings. 

Analog audiovisual materials are increasingly at risk because of their fragility, lack of playing equipment, and environmental threats. The grant recipients will digitize a variety of formats using state-of-the-art technologies with the help of qualified digitization service providers. The recordings include unique voices from underrepresented communities; history, from politics to aeronautics and science to baseball; and music, ranging from experimental and jazz recordings to whale songs.

Cycle 7 Awarded Projects:

Institution: Arhoolie Foundation
Project: Preserving the Chris Strachwitz Video Collection—A unique 400-hour collection of behind-the-scenes videos of many of America’s premier roots musicians, shot from 1987-2016 by globally recognized documentarian Chris Strachwitz, never before available to the public
Amount: $49,851

Institution: California Academy of Sciences
Project: Preserving Academy History through the Digitization of “Science in Action”
Amount: $50,000

Institution: The International Association of Blacks in Dance, Inc.
Project: Preserving the History and Legacy of Black Dance in America
Amount: $50,000

Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Project: New Music for Computers: Early Recordings from the MIT Experimental Music Studio, 1973-1988
Amount: $47,305

Institution: The Museum of Flight
Project: Aviation through the Ages: Digitizing Home Movies from The Museum of Flight Collections
Amount: $25,088

Institution: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.
Project: The Glory of Their Times” Unedited: Preserving and Digitizing the Larry Ritter Oral History Collection
Amount: $13,995

Institution: New York University (NYU)
Project: Preserving Community Radio, Preserving Community Voices: “Beyond the Pale,” Politics and Culture from the Jewish Left
Amount: $37,924

Institution: Ocean Alliance
Project: Preserving the Voices of Whales: Digitizing Global Audio Recordings, 1950s-1990s
Amount: $36,298

Institution: State Archives of North Carolina
Project: Preserving and Providing Access to Legislative History: Senate Audio Digitization
Amount: $37,039

Institution: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Project: Digitizing Decades of Scientific Achievement: At-risk Recordings from UCAR and NCAR History
Amount: $16,922

Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Project: Digitization and Dissemination of Technically Problematic KUAC-FM Radio (Alaska) Programs (1979-1997)—Phase II
Amount: $34,504

Institution: The University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections
Project: Preserving the Films of Andrew Ellicott Douglass, Astronomer, Archaeologist, and Father of Tree-Ring Dating
Amount: $39,175

Institution: University of Delaware
Project: Hearing Democracy in the First State: Preserving Delaware’s Political Legacy, 1949–1986
Amount: $15,199

Institution: University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Marr Sound Archives
Project: Preserving 1940s Radio Broadcasts on Severely Damaged Lacquer Discs
Amount: $33,323

Institution: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Project: Digitizing the Independent Media Center World Trade Organization Videotape Collection
Amount: $33,485

Institution: Vassar College
Project: Vassar College Archival Recordings Project: Music as Document and Indicator of Social Change
Amount: $39,986

Institution: Vermont Jazz Center
Project: The Attila Zoller Collection of Historical Audio Recordings 1955-1996: Forty years of performances documenting numerous important jazz artists, as well as the development of an innovative jazz guitarist
Amount: $40,889

Institution: Visual Studies Workshop
Project: Towards a Democratic Medium: Video Activism and Community Television in the 1970’s—Preserving the Portable Channel Tapes
Amount: $36,950

Institution: Ya-Ka-Ama Indian Education and Development, Inc.
Project: Northern California Tribal Traditions: Education, Culture and Values
Amount: $38,310

Institution: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
Project: The YIVO Yiddish Folksong Project: East European Jewish Folksong in its Social Context
Amount: $29,992

Visit the program’s Funded Projects page for more information about individual projects. 

In-depth conversations with staff from several Recordings at Risk projects, as well as samples of audio they have captured, are featured in the first season of CLIR’s podcast, Material Memory. The inaugural season focuses on the preservation of indigenous language recordings and their meaning to the communities that create them. 

CLIR will begin accepting applications for a new Recordings at Risk grant cycle beginning November 2, 2020, rather than this spring, to allow potential applicants and digitization service providers additional time for recovery and adjustment to the effects of the global pandemic. Significant changes to the program’s guidelines are not expected, so applicants may choose to use the Cycle 7 guidelines and template to begin drafting proposals. Updated materials will be posted to the Applicant Resources page in conjunction with the next call for applications.

Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by CLIR, the Recordings at Risk program supports the preservation of rare and unique audio and audiovisual content of high scholarly value. Since 2017, the program has awarded grants between $10,000 and $50,000 to diverse institutions, providing necessary funds to save cultural memory that would otherwise be lost.

The Council on Library and Information Resources ( is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning.

Photo credit: Christian Miller, Ocean Alliance

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