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1. Building the National Sound Recording Preservation Infrastructure

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The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age, a report commissioned by the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress and published in August 2010, presents a challenge to those responsible for the preservation of the nation’s sound recording heritage. In an age when digital technology has become “the format of choice to achieve the objectives of recorded sound preservation,” few of the public institutions, libraries, and archives currently in possession of the bulk of the nation’s recorded sound heritage-some 46 million recordings1-“have the facilities, playback hardware, and staff resources to preserve recordings,” the report reveals. Most of these institutions do not have the capacity to build the information technology infrastructure necessary to produce digital files or to ensure the integrity of their digital preservation files over the long term (Council on Library and Information Resources [CLIR] and Library of Congress 2010, 69).

Funding for audio preservation, the report notes, is “decentralized and inadequate.” Although the creation of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation has furthered progress in the field, the study maintains that “[r]esources must be invested not only in rescuing specific collections but also in developing techniques and methodologies that will enable more institutions to afford to assume a share of the work” (CLIR and Library of Congress 2010, 4).

A nationally coordinated approach to problems of infrastructure building is the only feasible way to surmount the challenges involved in preserving our audio heritage, especially in an era of severe budgetary constraints. Sharing of facilities and knowledge; coordination of efforts to make the best use of limited resources; agreement on standards and best practices; and cooperation at the institutional, regional, national, and international levels, and between public and private entities-all will be necessary to achieve the national-level infrastructure for preservation envisioned in this National Recording Preservation Plan.

The new national preservation infrastructure should be developed in a coordinated manner with three principal goals:

  1. Expansion of the physical and digital infrastructure to properly store and preserve at-risk audio material
  2. Development of educational initiatives, including degree programs to train specialists for positions integral to the digitization and preservation of recorded sound, along with the establishment of a centralized Audio Preservation Resource Directory website of professional knowledge to support the educational mission and keep professionals informed of latest developments
  3. Establishment of a coordinated national research agenda to support the development of new technologies to meet some of the most challenging problems in the field

The three subsections that follow offer eight recommendations formulated to address these interwoven areas of development.

Physical and Digital Infrastructure

Audiovisual materials are the fastest growing segment of our nation’s archives and special collections. Experts in the field rank the lack of appropriate archival storage and conservation facilities for these materials as their most challenging management issue, followed closely by the need to digitize audiovisual media before physical deterioration and format obsolescence make digitization difficult and costly, if not impossible (Dooley and Luce 2010).

To extend the life span of physical carriers of recorded sound,2 develop sufficient capacity for reformatting deteriorating media, and securely store digital files, several steps must be taken.

Recommendation 1.1:
Recorded Sound Media Storage Facilities

Construct environmentally controlled storage facilities that provide optimal conditions for the long-term preservation of recorded sound media.

Studies have shown that proper storage, including a controlled environment with low temperature and humidity levels, is the single most important factor in slowing the physical degradation of audiovisual media. When stored at room temperatures, significant damage is likely; magnetic media formats, which are especially sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and humidity, are particularly vulnerable. Despite this fact, most of the nation’s publicly and privately held audio collections currently are stored under less than archival conditions that contribute to their deterioration.

Some commercial and public facilities, such as the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, have been designed to store recorded sound and moving image collections under optimal conditions. For most institutions responsible for audio collections, however, such facilities are too expensive to build, too remote to access, or too limited in capacity to meet the needs of all stakeholders nationwide. Although many institutions have built offsite environmentally controlled storage facilities for books and paper-based collections, few have allotted space to audio holdings, which are inherently less stable than paper media.

Given the large volume of endangered audio recordings that require preservation, it is essential that at-risk collections receive priority for storage under conditions that can maximize their life span and provide additional time for preservation reformatting. Library and archives professional associations should advocate on behalf of their members for increased public and private funding to construct new storage facilities or convert existing facilities so as to house audiovisual media under environmental conditions that will prolong their survival until they can be reformatted.

Regional or other collaborations between libraries and archives should be encouraged to create environmentally controlled storage facilities for audiovisual media that follow best practices. Facilities that serve multiple institutions within a geographic area, including smaller organizations, could enable cost efficiencies while providing improved storage conditions for audio and other media. Research libraries that have formed partnerships to coordinate digital and print storage strategies should consider developing collaborative facilities for the archival storage of audio and moving image works. Such facilities also might be combined with collaborative preservation reformatting centers.

Recommendation 1.2:
Expansion of the National Capacity for Audio Preservation

Develop strategies to increase local, regional, and national resources for sound recording preservation reformatting to meet projected needs.

Expansion of the national capacity for audio preservation reformatting is critical. Studies have concluded that many analog audio recordings must be digitized within the next 15 to 20 years-before sound carrier degradation and the challenges of acquiring and maintaining playback equipment make the success of these efforts too expensive or unattainable.

Libraries, archives, and cultural heritage organizations generally do not have the facilities, equipment, or expertise to reformat and preserve audio holdings. In fact, only a few institutions and commercial specialists outside of the Library of Congress Packard Campus are fully capable of performing analog-to-digital transfers of the many audio formats.

The following steps are recommended to address the situation:

  • Develop or expand in-house digitization and preservation facilities to include audio preservation reformatting capabilities, and staff these facilities with highly skilled audio preservation specialists.Institutions with significant audio holdings should investigate the benefits, in terms of cost efficiencies and workflows, that can be realized by creating or expanding in-house facilities or by joining regional consortia. Initial efforts might be focused on particular formats, such as audiocassettes, that are held in abundance at the institution.
  • Develop collaborations for outsourcing preservation services.Institutions that have significant audio collections but are unable to establish in-house audio preservation centers should develop programs, individually or collaboratively, to contract with private companies that provide professional audio preservation reformatting services.3 Consortial approaches can enable a wide range of cultural heritage institutions to outsource preservation services, regardless of the size of the institution or the audio collection. Many advantages may be realized by sharing expertise, planning, guidelines, and infrastructure, including metadata templates, workflows, and quality control procedures.
  • Investigate the possibility of increasing the audio preservation capacity of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation so that other nonprofit institutions can make use of the Library’s facilities to preserve their audio collections.Current Packard Campus preservation facilities could be expanded and staffed by either Library or non-Library personnel subject to the Library’s oversight. Alternatively, outside funding could be used to establish a second shift at the Packard Campus to undertake preservation work for other institutions. These preservation programs could be established in collaboration with the National Recording Preservation Foundation (Recommendation 4.5) to enable the outside institutions involved to receive contributions from the Foundation.

Recommendation 1.3:
Digital Storage

Devise strategies to ensure that digital repositories are accessible to libraries and archives of all sizes for the long-term preservation of audio content.

The long-term preservation of and access to digital audio content relies upon the implementation of digital repository systems that typically provide data management services in addition to bit level storage.4 Archives that employ digital repository systems, as well as any system providers with whom they contract, must be financially stable and follow best practices in managing data over time.

Libraries and archives responsible for preserving digital audio content would benefit from participating in national and international activities to develop policies, practices, and systems for the preservation of digital content. Broader digital data preservation initiatives likewise would benefit from associations with recorded sound archives and digital-audio specialists that contribute expertise to support the development of repository system tools to ingest and manage recorded sound content. The preservation of time-based media such as audio carries with it special requirements for formatting, playback, and management. The audio preservation community must encourage the development of practices and tools that specifically support the ingestion and management of digital audio content (see Recommendations 2.4 and 2.6). Also needed are models for service-level agreements between archives and third-party repository system providers, tailored to the particular requirements of digital audio collections.

The following steps are necessary to achieve these goals:

  • Develop strategies for the creation of local, regional, and national digital repository systems for the storage and long-term management of audio content, including an examination of audio-specific aspects of storage media selection and refreshment, digital format migration, and system emulation.Long-term preservation depends on the migration of content to new data storage media or formats as needed and, in some cases, on the emulation of obsolete playback systems. The tools, practices, and workflows for the ingestion of data representing audio content into a digital repository differ from those typically used for the ingestion of other types of data. Currently, many organizations ingest digital data from the reformatting of paper documents, still photographs and other pictorial items, and born-digital text, but few ingest audiovisual content into digital repositories.
  • Establish consortial digital repositories and agreements between institutions, and develop models for new ventures to follow.Economies of scale can be obtained by collaborations that reduce start-up expenditures and long-term operating costs. Great societal value will be provided by repositories geared toward small and medium-sized archives and cultural heritage organizations that lack the infrastructure both to manage the preservation of digital audio files and to provide access. Consortial models developed for digital text and image repositories can provide guidelines for new ventures, especially with regard to auspices, governance, funding models, and other related matters.5
  • Develop methods, carry out tests, and publish recommendations for the interchange of digital audio content between repository organizations and systems.Enabling interchanges entails a combination of digital content packaging, transfer protocols, and effective communication between sending and receiving organizations. Content interchange is important for two reasons: First, a given content item may not remain in the perpetual care of an institution; and second, providers of repository systems may not be in business forever. A preservation life cycle model must include the transfer of items from one archive or system provider to another and their subsequent management and access provision by a new repository.

Educational and Professional Training

Recorded sound collections and archives require personnel highly skilled in all facets of audio creation, management, and preservation. Audio-specific archival preservation practices do not receive sufficient attention-if they receive any attention at all-in most library and information science degree programs. Professional training programs for audio engineers rarely touch on preservation transfer work, a subfield of audio engineering with its own distinct discourse, set of practices, and methods. Yet a solid grounding in audio preservation can be acquired only through a formal educational curriculum with an emphasis on core knowledge and competencies that reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the field. Educational programs should include training in science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as critical listening content skills.

Practices for audio preservation and audio archive management have not been systematically documented, collated, and disseminated. Much of the theoretical and practical knowledge pertaining to sound archives and audio preservation is held primarily by older engineers who have experience with historical audio formats and legacy playback equipment, and it is rapidly disappearing as they retire, leaving their positions to be filled by a new generation focused on the creation and distribution of digital media. Those in other disciplines in audio archiving, such as curatorship, archive management, and preservation practices, often transmit information through informal channels. Such documentation that does exist is not always widely available, and misinformation abounds. Furthermore, the transition to born-digital audio creates even more layers of complexity. The establishment of a collaborative Audio Preservation Resource Directory of professional knowledge not only would improve communications within the field, but also would provide professionals with reliable information about recorded sound preservation practices.

Recommendation 1.4:
University Courses and Degree Programs

Establish university-based degree programs in audio archiving and preservation.

Curricula and course materials designed to teach core knowledge and skills in audio archiving and preservation must be developed in three primary areas:
1.    Administration and management of archives and collections
2.    Physical conservation and reformatting of historical audio recording formats
3.    Management of digital audio assets and storage systems6

Curricula should be developed at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with the understanding that while only a few institutions will offer specific degrees in the field, many institutions may offer applicable courses as part of related programs.

Undergraduate courses and degree programs should focus on the technical aspects of reformatting historical audio collections, digital asset management, and skills related to information technology (IT), such as database development, server administration, and systems integration. Students also should become familiar with recorded sound history and should develop basic musical and critical listening skills. Graduate courses and degrees should be offered in archive administration and collection management, conservation, digital asset management, IT-related skills, advanced techniques for the reformatting of historical audio collections, materials science, and information retrieval technologies for audio content. Emerging cataloging and metadata standards and best practices specific to managing and providing access to sound recording collections should be included in the programs. To prepare archivists responsible for setting preservation priorities to take into account the cultural and historical significance of materials, students should become aware of ways that scholars from a variety of fields (e.g., history, music, media studies, cultural studies) use audiovisual materials. Periodic assessment surveys of jobs, recruitment patterns, and skill sets needed in the field of sound recording preservation should be conducted, and the curricula refined accordingly.

The Library of Congress and the National Recording Preservation Board can support these goals by collaborating with national and international institutions of higher education, as well as the education committees of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), to establish and maintain channels for sharing expertise; identify gaps in curriculum materials and encourage development in needed areas; and maintain an up-to-date bibliography of literature and a current list of relevant educational programs and curriculum materials via the Audio Preservation Resource Directory website (Recommendation 1.6).

To accomplish these goals, the following steps are recommended:

  • Identify institutions best equipped and willing to teach sound recording management, archiving, and preservation, and encourage them to develop programs.The National Recording Preservation Board should coordinate an effort to identify institutions of higher learning that can best meet the objectives and requirements specified. Discussions should be initiated with appropriate university representatives to encourage a needs assessment and feasibility study. The Board should provide whatever support is possible and suitable, including encouraging funding agencies to assist with program start-up costs.A laboratory-based curriculum is essential. These institutions must be equipped with appropriate studios and facilities to preserve analog and digital recordings. A successful program would combine faculty with advanced degrees and instructors with professional experience. To provide practical hands-on experience, educational programs must develop collaborative relationships with local, state, and national recorded sound libraries and archives to establish internships and facilitate exchanges of ideas relating to theory and practice.
  • Encourage funding and support of educational programs.Universities that undertake education and research in recorded sound must agree to provide funding themselves and to seek additional support from external sources. Without a firm commitment of internal funding, academic institutions cannot fulfill their educational objectives and will not garner the support of public and private funding entities.Federal, state, and local grant-making organizations, along with foundations and private donors, should be encouraged to expand their mandates and support the educational and research needs of institutions in the field. The National Recording Preservation Foundation (Recommendation 4.5) should publicize the preservation activities of educational institutions and attempt to match projects and initiatives with appropriate funding agencies. The Foundation also should make efforts to inform prospective funders of the importance of professional audio preservation training programs.
  • Encourage the creation of internships and fellowships in audio archiving and preservation.It is critical that students undertake medium- to long-term institutional internships either as part of their graduate education or as post-graduate experience. An internship is a longstanding integral component in all academic programs in North America designed to educate and train art, film, library, and archive conservators. Internships expose new professionals to a range of hands-on opportunities for preserving and reformatting source originals under the supervision and mentoring of seasoned preservation professionals. In their future work, these students may be the only preservation professionals on staff, so they need intensive exposure to a wide range of recorded sound preservation issues, as well as opportunities to practice decision-making skills within the broader mission of a cultural institution.The Library of Congress Packard Campus should expand its activities in providing internships and fellowships relating to the preservation and management of recorded sound collections. The National Recording Preservation Board should work with other organizations to identify additional recorded sound archives and studios that are actively involved in audio preservation or management and encourage them to offer internships. These internship and fellowship opportunities should be posted on the Audio Preservation Resource Directory website (Recommendation 1.6).

Recommendation 1.5:
Continuing Education in Audio Preservation

Establish continuing education programs for practicing audio engineers, archivists, curators, and librarians.

Continuing education programs must be established to ensure that practicing audio engineers, archivists, curators, and librarians acquire new knowledge and skills in audio management, archiving, and preservation. To achieve the broadest possible outreach, these programs should take a variety of forms, including traveling and web-based workshops, university-based continuing education programs, and distance education offerings. Such nationally and internationally recognized leaders in the field as ARSC, AES, the Society of American Archivists (SAA), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Music Library Association (MLA) are encouraged to create a special emphasis on workshops in this area as part as their regional and national conferences. In addition, community college and technical training schools should offer workshops and courses to introduce audio preservation concepts to students preparing for technical careers.

The Library of Congress and the National Recording Preservation Board will contribute to continuing education endeavors by listing workshops and other training opportunities on the Audio Preservation Resource Directory website, assisting with the development of workshops, and identifying funding opportunities through the Board. Ideally, all workshops should be offered at the lowest possible cost to attract the largest possible audience.

Workshops should stress the importance of standards-based and best practice approaches to managing and reformatting analog and born-digital audio collections. They must offer theoretical and technical knowledge and training for engineers, archivists, and librarians on a range of related topics, such as audio collection management; policy and planning for audio archives; rights management; assessment of collection preservation needs; format identification; recorded sound history; digital curation; cataloging and metadata standards and best practices; techniques for playback and transferring legacy formats; folk, popular, and classical music history; and the application of musical training in cataloging and reformatting musical sound recordings.

Recommendation 1.6:
Audio Preservation Resource Directory

Create a collaborative online resource to collect, vet, and disseminate knowledge and best practices in the field of recorded sound preservation.

A comprehensive website should be established to collect, vet, and disseminate knowledge about recorded sound preservation. The website, or web portal, should be a central directory that includes resources for decision makers and practitioners within the audio preservation and archiving community. Once established, the directory will serve the needs of educators, researchers, and students by providing a solid foundation for organized professional education and training, research, and practice. Not only will such a website serve as a critical educational resource for the public and for those institutions and communities of practice that are underserved and are in need of up-to-date information, but also it will help raise awareness of the fragility of our national audio heritage.

The directory will facilitate open access to the collected knowledge of the audio preservation field, serving the audio preservation community and the public in the following ways:

  • As a comprehensive resource for audio archive professionals, academics, students, and the public
  • As a resource for creating academic courses and degree programs, and for developing lesson plans at the K–12 level to educate young people in sound recording history, preservation, and access issues
  • As a source of critical information for decision makers who need to learn about issues of audio management and preservation in order to make appropriate policy or funding choices
  • As a base from which to build and improve standards and best practices
  • As a site for informational exchanges between local, national, and international archival and academic communities
  • As a resource for providing information to the general public about the importance of preserving our recorded sound heritage
  • As a resource for providing students interested in pursuing careers in audio archiving and preservation with information about the field
  • As a resource for information about organized research centers, academic programs, hosted lectures, symposia, residencies, and “travel to collections” research grants
  • As a resource that documents the histories of people, techniques, and institutions that have played important roles in the field of recorded sound

Although one person or organization cannot accomplish the central tasks of gathering, cataloging, and making accessible the collective knowledge of the field, there should be a central access portal for collecting and distributing the information. Effective management and long-term sustainability of such a comprehensive resource are much more likely if a single organization-ideally, a national flagship organization such as the Library of Congress Packard Campus and the National Recording Preservation Board-oversees its operations.

The Audio Preservation Resource Directory
The Audio Preservation Resource Directory website will function as an integral part of the national sound recording preservation program. The following components are described more fully in other sections of this plan:
•    An education page (Recommendations 1.4 and 1.5)
•    A recording history page (Recommendation 1.8)
•    A collections management page (Recommendations 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, and 4.3)
•    A public access page (Recommendation 3.9 and 3.11)
•    A fundraising page (Recommendation 4.5)

A National Technology Research Agenda

A national research agenda for audio preservation should focus on developing, testing, and enhancing science-based approaches to all areas that affect audio preservation.7 These areas include materials science and media characteristics, optimum signal extraction practices, and automated and multistreamed approaches to the preservation of recorded sound media. In addition, information on legacy recording equipment and practices should be compiled, preserved, and disseminated. Government, industry, and academia must collaborate at the national and international levels to address research concerns and develop effective solutions.

Recommendation 1.7:
New Technologies for Audio Preservation

Encourage scientific and technical research leading to the development of new technologies to recover, reformat, and preserve audio recording media.

Some problems presented by the large amount and fragile condition of audio media requiring preservation can be resolved only through research initiatives that lead to new technologies. It is essential to develop technologies that can be used to efficiently reformat the vast quantities of recorded sound residing in major archival collections before their carriers degrade. Scientific research must be encouraged to determine the life expectancy of all formats as well as to find effective ways to slow down the deterioration process and recover sound from already degraded audio carriers. Solutions that are independent of the original recording practices, media, or equipment (e.g., non-contact playback) can mitigate impediments to preservation resulting from media deterioration and equipment obsolescence.

Priorities include the following:

  • Research to quantify the life expectancy of all analog formats, resulting in the development of diagnostic tools for identifying endangered media and integration of those tools into workflows.The Library of Congress Preservation Research and Testing Division (PRTD) already has initiated research to collect scientific data on the physical characteristics of modern media, including physical and chemical ageing characterization and assessment of deterioration and degradation components, with the aim to develop diagnostic tools to predict media deterioration. The Library of Congress will continue to lead these efforts and will seek to collaborate with other institutions to achieve these research goals. The focus of PRTD research into non-invasive technologies to identify and characterize media is part of this initiative.
  • Research, including chemical and physical analyses on deteriorating media carriers, that leads to improvements in care and handling, as well as ways to slow degradation and recover content.Because numerous legacy formats are near the end of their life expectancies, research and development must be made a priority. The National Recording Preservation Board’s recorded sound preservation study noted that many archivists and engineers have made the study of magnetic tape properties a priority (CLIR and Library of Congress 2010, 96). Quantification of chemical and physical properties should be expanded to embrace all media carriers.Scientifically researched and developed methods to solve the problems encountered with deteriorating media carriers are urgently needed. For example, scientifically developed and well-documented methods are necessary to recover audio from tapes with “sticky shed syndrome” (binder hydrolysis) and delaminating lacquer discs. After completing studies on this issue, PRTD has concluded that reformatting should be given high priority, and is working with industry partners to understand the underlying degradation phenomena to potentially retard further development of this deterioration.

    Provided funding is available, PRTD will work to develop a workshop that includes academic, industrial, and government partners who have an interest in establishing testing criteria to ensure the quality and stability of the media on which their data are held. In addition, PRTD has undertaken the organization of a collaborative network of partners and researchers in academia, cultural heritage, and industry for assessment of current research, areas requiring further research, and the best use of current resources to coordinate research studies. Development of standardized testing procedures will allow comparison of risk for a wide range of existing media formats. Future testing of new and existing storage materials will inform migration requirements and assist associated workflows required to preserve at-risk materials.

  • Research and development of new technologies for recovering sound from fragile media, including non-contact playback systems, and improving efficiencies in audio preservation.Further research should be undertaken to develop efficiencies in the areas of audio element preparation, transfer methods, and solutions for digital audio migration or emulation. Studies should be encouraged to determine effective ways to increase the level of automation used in quality review and assurance. An effort must be made to develop cost-effective, rapid, and, where beneficial, non-contact methods for reformatting.The Library of Congress, for example, has been collaborating with physicists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop imaging technology for non-contact reformatting of audio material recorded on discs and cylinders. Since the imaging systems do not physically touch the playback surface, sound that had previously been considered irretrievable can be recovered from fragile and broken media.
  • Collaboration with AES to develop improved tools and metrics to permit the evaluation of the performance of digitizing systems (e.g., easy-to-use tone or signal generators, and software applications that permit lay people to administer pass/fail tests on equipment).
  • Initiation of collaborative research at the national and international levels.There must be a free flow of information to expedite solutions and avoid overlapping of efforts. To this end, steps must be taken to reach out to national and international recorded sound communities and identify opportunities for collaborations on similar projects. Such partnerships may lead to a consensus on methodologies and best practices, further enhancing the efficiencies needed to execute a preservation agenda of this scope. Groups such as the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA), the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), ARSC, and AES can help facilitate collaborations, publicize findings, and articulate research needs to the scientific community.

Recommendation 1.8:
Documentation of Legacy Technologies

Research, collect, document, and preserve information on legacy recording practices and technologies.

There must be a systematic and sustained effort to compile and collect information related to legacy recording technology and practices: where it is, how it works, and the characteristics, or “audio signatures,” of the recordings themselves. Additional efforts should be made to thoroughly document the expertise of legacy recording practitioners. This work can serve as the cornerstone for the development of standardized methods and best practices for audio preservation reformatting, and will be shared through the Audio Preservation Resource Directory (Recommendation 1.6) to serve the needs of training and education.

This process includes the following steps:

  • Create a national directory of available obsolete equipment as a resource for audio preservation and restoration engineers that will indicate the location of hardware required for the playback and transfer of legacy recording formats.The directory should inventory obsolete or difficult-to-locate equipment in the offices or studios of various record companies, independent studios, and independent producers. It should list tape machines, recording consoles, and outboard gear (e.g., equalizers, reverb units), among others, because such elements may be sought by those attempting to restore or reissue historical recordings. For each audio facility, the directory should list contact information and the financial and logistical terms on which access to the gear can be obtained.Compilation could be a joint project of the applicable committees of ARSC, AMIA, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), and AES. The directory should be made available online as part of the Audio Preservation Resource Directory and updated regularly. The directory could be expanded in the future to include an appendix with a year-by-year or decade-by-decade list of major formats used at different stages of the recording process, including recording, mixing, and mastering. Information for the appendix might be gathered through partnerships with universities that offer advanced degrees in audio engineering, as well as through the Producers & Engineers Wing of NARAS and AES.
  • Initiate a program to videotape interviews and demonstrations by senior audio engineers.To document recording practices used to capture sound from legacy media, lecture demonstrations by expert practitioners should be videotaped. They should cover older formats, playback techniques, and playback systems. The videos should be developed under the auspices of the Board and made available on the Audio Preservation Resource Directory as free podcasts or webcasts. Possible partners with the Board include ARSC and AES, as these organizations already have taken preliminary steps to address this issue by identifying and interviewing experts.
  • Create a digital repository of manuals and schematics for legacy equipment.A coordinated effort is needed to systematically acquire service manuals and schematics for all legacy playback equipment. It is necessary to identify gaps in the collection, solicit donations of manuals, and request the support of manufacturers and interested archives and libraries. The Packard Campus already has begun this process and should make information about this collection digitally available via the Audio Preservation Resource Directory website.


1 The figure of 46 million was derived in a survey prepared by Heritage Preservation, Inc. (2005, 40) in partnership with the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

2 Audiovisual engineers use the term carrier to refer to the physical media on which sound has been recorded. Examples of analog carriers of recorded sound include wax cylinders; magnetized steel wire; flat discs with bases made of rubber, acetate, lacquer (at times with aluminum, glass, or cardboard backing), shellac, and vinyl, and metal parts in masters; and magnetic audio tape, with bases composed of paper, cellulose acetate, polyester, and polyvinyl. See Council on Library and Information Resources and Library of Congress 2006, 3–6.

3 Several successful programs can serve as models for establishing collaborative outsourced services for analog-to-digital conversion. See, for example, “Sound Model: Collaborative Infrastructure for Digital Audio,” which describes a project for digitizing materials from a consortia of cultural heritage institutions in the Western states (available at

4 The term repository is used to name both the organization (typically an archive) that takes responsibility for content and the information technology systems that support the preservation of content in digital form. A number of academic and governmental archival institutions are developing appropriate organizational practices and policies, and determining the best architectures for technical systems. Library and archival associations are supporting these efforts by describing repositories at a high level, defining preservation metadata, and outlining methods for auditing performance.

5 See, for example, MetaArchive ( In addition, the Audiovisual Archive Network ( is developing a pilot project for a scalable prototype library and digital repository service. The HathiTrust referred to its board of governors a proposal to broaden its mission statement from focusing exclusively on building a “digital archive of library materials converted from print” to include “broad-ranging intellectual assets (including, but not limited to audio and video files, art slides, research data, museum specimens, born digital files, etc.).” See

6 For a discussion of core knowledge and skills, see CLIR and Library of Congress 2010, Appendix B.

7 The National Recording Preservation Act of 2000 specifies that in order to implement a “comprehensive national sound recording preservation program,” the Librarian of Congress shall “undertake studies and investigations of sound recording preservation activities as needed, including the efficacy of new technologies, and recommend solutions to improve these practices.” See 2 USC § 1711(a) and (b)(4).

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