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Re: [ARSCLIST] What to Keep and Why....was now why preserve
"Andes, Donald" <Donald.Andes@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote: ***NO ONE has the funds, the storage space, or the ability.
***Therefore, I believe we would all benefit from a intellectual well
rounded discussion about prioritizing assets without drifting too far off on tangents.
Yes, but I still wonder how much recorded history is valued. I suppose asking this group for answers is a bit like preaching to the choir. However, for example, I recall a story of a few years ago when a fire destroyed much of a German archive. There was substantive coverage of the story in the press. Even some major governmental sources pointed to the tragic situation. There were statements like, "it is a tragic loss...items that were priceless were lost...etc." Yet, from what I read, the fire was caused by some faulty electrical connections. I had this vision of some poor curator who didn't have enough money to get the wiring in his building repaired...but yet it seemed that the press pointed to the "priceless" value of what was lost. For me, there seemed to a disconnect there. It seems that society says it "values" history, but yet, to what extent, and why?
We might place some "value" on an object because the market might place a value on the antique, yet I wonder if the societal value is generally limited to the "object" value.
I guess my question is, how does one market the value of history. You can say that its value is obvious, but if one looks at the money that is assigned to its preservation, it really isn't valued much by society. While I frequently point to what I see as inefficiencies in things like bibliographic control, I know of no archive that is adequately funded.
***When contemplating criteria for assessing an assets "worth" I came up with these:
***Historical - Does this represent it's age/time period in a special or unique way?
Cultural - Does this speak to/of a cultural group?
Personal - Am I personally interested in this asset or what it
Unique - Is this asset a 1 of 1 or 1 (like a painting) of 1,000,000
(like a commercial pop CD)?
Conditional - Is this an exceptionally fine example or is it impossible to playback because of damage?
Value - Is this thing worth money for what it is? And how much in a reasonable market (i.e. Ebay)
Exploitability - Differs from value, in that there may be revenue
streams generated from the material, if there are minimal legalities/barriers for repurposing.
***(Obviously the list is inverted for corporate Archives, as mine.)
And what background and training is appropriate for someone to be in a position to make the most informed decisions based upon these criteria? Some of these considerations can be somewhat quantifiable. Even the notion of a potential market can be subject to the public tastes for any given point in time. Certainly historic worth and uniqueness within a genre are concepts that are difficult to quantify, especially since, it would seem, that we have not had much luck in agreeing upon what the value of history is to a society.
The cultural implications also interest me a great deal. A fellow I know has an interest in jazz musicians who came from Mexico and settled in California. So who, besides this researcher I know, collected this material. So, consider if he gets an article published on the subject and people want to hear the music. Aside from all of the legal questions, who else will have preserved these recordings?
***I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here so if someone knows of an accepted method that libraries/archives are currently using please let me know.
I have observed libraries/archives with preservation criteria predicated on "what will sell," what someone or some agency is willing to support, personal interests of a curator, a perceived ability to attract press and, related to same, the sense that it will attract donations, etc. It seems to me that only in rare circumstances is there a preservation program based upon any well-considered or informed approach which places it emphasis on historical significance. Of course, that is perhaps the most difficult criteria of all, especially since libraries/archives are often personed by those with no subject expertise and/or knowlege of the body of recorded sound.
Even amongst scholar, how does one decide. For example, I think of the first performances of some classical works. Roy Harris made extensive changes to some of his works after the first performances. I have copies of broadcast performances of three different versions of his 7th and 5th Symphonies. Are these of equal value to the one broadcast performance Toscanini gave of Roy's 3rd Symphony? How about a recording of Koussevitzky rehearsing the 3rd Symphony? What about the inhouse recording made of a Koussevitzky live performance? What about a performance I have of Copland conducting the work with the Hungarian State Orchestra. How would one prioritize those recordings?