It is clear that accessing and preserving digital data is increasingly important across a wide range of scientific, artistic and cultural activities. We need more information about deciding ‘how’ to preserve that ‘if’ we preserve. Fewer than one software package in ten lasts beyond 10 years. Overcoming the protectiveness of data is one of the highest priorities in this area. We need to see spending decisions more as investments with a clear view of the costs and benefits. It is important to examine the social and organizational benefits of preservation. While the barriers between libraries, archivist and technical specialists are breaking down slowly, we must address the broader question of training and education. We need to keep the knowledge to be preserved independently from the underlying systems. We need to develop certification criteria, checklists to determine complexity and cost, and new research.
The National Recording Preservation Board was created to sustain sound records for future generations. “Authoritative manuals on how to create preservation copies of analog audio recordings do not yet exist.” This report will investigate procedures to reformat analog sound to digital media. It summarizes discussions and recommendations from leading audio preservation engineers concerning the present standards and best practices for migrating analog recordings. It gives an overview of the problems encountered and the needs. There are some recommendations for actions, competencies that should be developed, and a call to share expertise to help in this area. Some of these include:
· For discs: Clean the disc when possible; choose the correct stylus size and playback speed
· For tapes: identify and clean the tape; address splices and damage;
· Know the medium
· Note all metadata with the original
· Identify the core competencies needed
· Develop a web-based clearinghouse for information
· Identify experts to consult
· Develop project guidelines and best practices within the organization
The second half of the document outlines recommended practices, competencies, and commentary from the meeting participants for transferring audio to digital media. They also list resource documents that we should create, especially suggested equipment to perform digital audio archiving tasks, sources of equipment and supplies.
This article gives an example of a hospital which installed a new image and records archiving system late last year. It chose an optical disk jukebox with spinning disk arrays over magnetic tape because it had stopped trusting magnetic tape. “If you can’t access the data, then whatever you spent on the tape was a waste.” They had tapes go bad after only 50 uses. They chose a “near-line” storage system, a 13TB optical jukebox model containing 30GB platters. It has a two-tier storage infrastructure, where all data is stored in an array for the first two years and then migrated to optical disk, where it’s copied to two platters; one off-site for disaster recovery and the other on-site for near-line storage.
Curators at the UC Santa Barbara Library have digitized 6,000 19th- and 20th-century wax and plastic cylinder recordings of music, vaudeville routines and presidential speeches. Preserving the sounds is vital because the cylinders are deteriorating. This area has been neglected for many years. Until recently it was not possible to create quality digital copies of cylinder recordings because cylinders running at different speeds each required different equipment. Now a system has been created that can play cylinders of various sizes and speeds and transfer the sound to a computer through a patch bay. It encodes cylinder music as original-sounding WAV files or cleaned-up MP3 versions. Since November when the site started, over 700,000 recordings have been downloaded. The recordings on the site are in the public domain and cleaned-up MP3 versions hold a Creative Commons license.