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Concluding Discussion and Recommendations

The salient innovation of the symposium was the gathering of many experts who have few or no opportunities to talk and develop collaborations. Despite the diversity of experience and interest, consensus emerged about the nature of the problem-extending far beyond preservation-and the solutions-extending far beyond technological fixes bought with additional funding. It was clear that each sector that was represented, from archives to the law, holds part of the solution, and only collaboration will achieve lasting progress. The way to engender collaboration and achieve scalable results depends urgently on continuing the dialogues that began at the meeting.

The diversity of the group attending the symposium was itself a common topic, and most discussions revealed a general lack of coordination in need of immediate remedy. Suggestions for organized coordination included the formation of interdisciplinary committees that could pool resources and information and develop standards, and the formation of advocacy groups to create new partnerships, raise funds, and generate public interest. Enlisting the new executive director of the American Folklore Society as a general coordinator was also proposed.

Each group that developed strategies for improved access, preservation, and rights management agreed on the need to

  • develop a Web portal to provide links to resources and reference materials and to facilitate the coordination of the efforts of diverse communities;
  • increase public awareness about heritage collections and the crisis they face;
  • develop best practices guidelines and standards;
  • develop better education and training opportunities for researchers, archivists, audio engineers, and community members;
  • develop partnerships among the technology, corporate, and entertainment sectors;
  • extend the reach of expertise and resources to regional and local levels in ways that include but also go beyond the Web portal;
  • create and fund teams of experts who could work as consultants, traveling to different sites to lead workshops, provide expertise, provide services, etc.; and
  • establish regional centers for preservation and distributed access when appropriate.

Specific recommendations for the three areas follow, along with the names of the organizations best positioned to play leading roles.


  1. Develop an interdisciplinary online portal
    Develop an interdisciplinary online portal that will provide access to existing materials and resources for sound archives. [Society of Ethnomusicology in collaboration with Harvard University]
  2. Create the ethnographic thesaurus
    Convene the Ethnographic Thesaurus Working Group to develop a proposal for submission to the National Endowment for the Humanities for the July 2001 deadline. The proposal will provide planning grant funds to shape this project with a clear scope of work, budget, and an institutional home. [American Folklife Center, American Folklore Society, May 2001]
  3. Develop metadata schemes
    Investigate and develop the use of Dublin Core or other relevant metadata schemes to facilitate the creation and sharing of descriptions and indexes of unpublished ethnographic recordings. [University of Washington, Harvard University, Library of Congress, Michigan State University, American Folklore Society, Society of Ethnomusicologists, and others]
  4. Develop regional facilities for local access
    Explore the designation of regional facilities that might provide data migration and other resources to small and mid-sized archives. [Library of Congress; Indiana University; Harvard University; University of California, Los Angeles; others]
  5. Disseminate information about the symposium results
    All participants include a link to the symposium Web site and sound preservation information. [All]


  1. Develop an urgency matrix
    Develop and post on the symposium Web site an urgency matrix and best practices preservation guidelines for small to mid-sized archives. This document will not be comprehensive but should include recommendations for affordable and reasonable preservation of the most common recording media (reel-to-reel tape, audio cassettes, video cassettes, digital audiotape, etc.) with cost models for treatment and equipment recommendations. [Association for Recorded Sound Collections, Audio Engineering Society]
  2. Develop a magnetic media manual
    Ensure that the Research Libraries Group magnetic media manual is translated into simple language to be useful for folklorists, ethnomusicologists, collectors, and others with sound collections. Have a link from Research Libraries Group site to the symposium Web site. [Research Libraries Group]
  3. Develop guidelines and best practices for capture
    Develop and publish a set of guidelines and best practices for information capture, metadata, etc. to cover all sound media by 2002. [Audio Engineering Society, Library of Congress, Association for Recorded Sound Collections]
  4. Publicize standards developed for audiovisual facilities
    Publicize standards developed by the Library of Congress for its Culpeper Facility to be a model for handling cultural legacy audio and visual materials and update national standards as needed. [Library of Congress]
  5. Develop scalable models for digital preservation
    Provide expert service and production facilities to small and mid-sized archives for digital preservation and data migration. [Library of Congress, Digital Library Federation]
  6. Develop a registry of vendors
    Develop a list of reputable vendors of equipment and services for sound preservation, especially firms able to handle legacy formats. [Library of Congress, Association for Recorded Sound Collections]
  7. Recruit and train technicians
    Encourage technical and engineering schools to train the next generation of expert technicians for audio preservation and include legacy format competency. [Audio Engineering Society, Library of Congress, Association for Recorded Sound Collections]
  8. Disseminate collections survey results
    Disseminate collections survey results from the symposium and provide this information to other surveys, such as the National Recording Preservation Board at the Library of Congress, to ensure that small and mid-sized archives are included in national statistics. [Council on Library and Information Resources, American Folklife Center]
  9. Develop a registry of recordings
    Track the existence and location of preserved audio recordings with machine-readable records and online registries to guard against duplication of effort and maximize preservation of unique recordings.
  10. Develop training workshops
    Develop a series of workshops where national and large university archives can provide training and guidance to small and mid-sized archives on sound preservation. This could be a “SWAT team” approach, with several experts who might be called on as needed, perhaps to approach the National Endowment for the Humanities for funding through the Preservation Assistance Grants category. [Association of Recorded Sound Collections in collaboration with American Folklife Center; Library of Congress; Harvard University; Indiana University; University of California, Los Angeles; others]

Intellectual Property Rights

  1. Establish a listserv
    Establish a listserv to continue the conversations of the symposium. [American Folklife Center, American Folklore Society, January 2001]
  2. Develop ethical guidelines for dissemination
    Convene a larger group to discuss and develop ethical guidelines for publication and online presentation of audio recordings from ethnographic archives. Include ethicists, artists, and community members. The group should consider the application of intellectual property and copyright law as it applies to ethnographic field recordings. The group should also map relationships for materials already collected and investigate the standards used by local communities, tribal groups, and artists for the issues surrounding intellectual property rights. [National Endowment for the Humanities, Library of Congress, Recording Industry Association of America, ASCAP, BMI]
  3. Develop model contracts
    Develop model agreements and issue lists for institutions to access and consult on the issue of intellectual property rights vis-à-vis the collector, the artist or tradition bearer, and the archive or institution. These model agreements could be posted online through the Federal Communications Commission symposium Web site. [Library of Congress; Smithsonian Institution; Indiana University; Harvard University; University of California, Los Angeles]
  4. Renegotiate existing contracts if they are inadequate
    Encourage archivists and collectors to renegotiate inadequate contracts and agreements for clear rights protection. [All]
  5. Create a database of public domain materials
    Create and maintain a database of materials in the public domain and digitize these materials on a priority basis. [All]
  6. Establish a liaison to industry
    Establish a liaison to the commercial music industry to facilitate access to back catalogs and out-of-print recordings held in commercial vaults. [National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Recording Industry Association of America, institutional repositories]
  7. Provide rights training
    Provide archival employees with ongoing training on rights issues. [All]
  8. Publish a guide to rights
    Develop an online and print publication on the basic intellectual property rights issues and use of archival collections, and disseminate this publication to sound archives. Perhaps model this on the publication Working with Folk Materials in New York State. [New York Folklore Society, American Folklore Society, Society of Ethnomusicology]
  9. Update existing fieldwork handbooks
    Update existing fieldwork handbooks to include training and guidelines on rights and issues of privacy along with advice on not depositing materials that may be too problematical. [All]
  10. Offer continuing education
    Offer continuing education at professional meetings on intellectual property rights, privacy in metadata, and other issues. [American Folklore Society, Society of Ethnomusicology, Association for Recorded Sound Collections, American Library Association]
  11. Represent copyright interests to lawmakers
    Form a committee to address copyright law. Explore increasing access to out-of-print recordings through compulsory licensing. [Library of Congress, Recording Industry Association of America, BMI, Music Library Association, American Library Association, American Folklore Society, Association for Recorded Sound Collections]
  12. Update interlibrary loan regulations
    Update interlibrary loan regulations in the copyright law, work toward compulsory licensing of music that companies withhold because of uncertain rights, and encourage Congress to conduct oversight hearings addressing fair use issues. [All]
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