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Re: [ARSCLIST] basic question from a newbie
Speaking as the guy who asked the question, let me second Melodie's
The people on this list are gems.
I'm in touch separately with each of the individuals who responded, but
I want to people who are regulars here to know how much I appreciate
you. It's nice when a know-it-all like me asks a question about
something he is totally ignorant of, and people respond as graciously as
have the ARSC list members.
Edward T. Morman, MSLS, PhD
Director, Jacobus tenBroek Library
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND JERNIGAN INSTITUTE
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore MD 21230
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Frances, Melodie
Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 6:29 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] basic question from a newbie
Sorry to take up bandwidth with a slightly off topic post, but hopefully
I will be forgiven - I just wanted to say that this listserv is an
example of what is so cool about librarians - we SHARE information and
help each other out - I too am at the beginning of a project and it
would be impossible for me to attempt to do it without all of the
wonderful help from everyone on this list - things like Richard being
willing to freely share a paper that he wrote are just one example of
how truly helping this profession is - given the recent approach of
entities like OCLC which seems to be mostly concerned now with getting
their piece of the digital $$ pie, it is really nice to see such an open
attitude on this list!!!
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List on behalf of
Richard L. Hess
Sent: Mon 1/5/2009 2:25 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] basic question from a newbie
The general direction of large collection archiving is to store
everything in managed servers with off-site backup. We can call that
many things, including "digital repository" and "trusted digital
For a collection of your size, the options for disk-based or
tape-based off-site backup are both viable. The primary storage would
be a robust disk drive system.
Selecting collection management software is a big hurdle and I have
no recommendations in that area.
IASA standards state that a minimum of 48,000 samples per second
should be used when digitizing and most of us adhere to the 24-bit
recommendation as well. As IASA says, "some material would benefit
from higher sample rates". This would be high-quality music and drama
recordings, not "announce booth" or small-studio readings.
I think the consensus is that the material which is already digitized
at other sample rates and bit depths (as long as they are very common
ones like 44,100 samples per second and 16 bits (CD and some DAT))
should be ingested into the digital repository in their native
format. This may invite differing opinions.
Storing the material as WAV files in the digital repository is also
the accepted standard. MP3 and other compressed files may be
generated at the same time in order to provide lower-bit-rate access
I have some hopefully useful information at
www.richardhess.com/notes/ and you can read about the tape
digitization and restoration work I do at www.richardhess.com/tape/
There are lists of resources on the ARSC web site (
www.arsc-aurio.org ). One of the most useful resources is the IASA
TC-04 document (available from IASA), at least for the technical side
of audio digitization.
In order to help you go through the collection and prioritize
sub-portions, the FACET tool from Indiana University is quite useful
as it helps to identify and quantify risks to the collection. That,
and the documents from the Sound Directions project are available here:
Many of us here can answer specific questions. We each have our own
areas of experience.
A few of my "soapbox" items are:
- Get as good a playback as possible -- this is the last time the
tape will be played
- Don't destroy/dispose of the original analog tapes
- Just because person A can't play the tape doesn't mean person B
can't as well.
A note on the last point: the hard disk drive I ranted about here a
few weeks ago was unrecoverable both by CBL and DriveSavers. Most
likely because of a well-intentioned, but ill-advised opening of the
drive by a computer "consultant" prior to sending it to CBL. If
you're not sure of the recovery method and you think something is
wrong in any media, don't "guess" and don't take steps that may make
the situation worse.
My summary paper of tape degradation factors was recently published
in the ARSC Journal and now is online at
Good luck with a worthwhile and exciting project!
At 04:25 PM 2009-01-05, Morman, Ed wrote:
>Dear experts on recorded sound preservation,
>The National Federation of the Blind owns thousands, if not tens of
>thousands, of hours of sound recordings that we need to preserve in the
>most efficient way, while still having ready access to them. All of
>current recording is done digitally, and stored on MAM-A professional
>grade gold CDs. Our collections extend back to the 1950s and include
>reel-to-reel and cassette masters, as well as digital audio tape and
>other digitized recordings on CDs. Much of the digitization of the
>older material was done haphazardly.
>As you can imagine, the sound archives are quite important to an
>organization of blind people. We would like retrospectively to insure
>that all our recordings are digitized professionally and stored in a
>little space as possible given concerns for preservation.
>We recently joined ARSC, and I signed up for this listserv in order to
>learn from folks in the sound preservation enterprise.
>Any advice you can provide will be much appreciated!
>I thank you in advance.
>Edward T. Morman, MSLS, PhD
>Director, Jacobus tenBroek Library
>NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND JERNIGAN INSTITUTE
>1800 Johnson Street
>Baltimore MD 21230
Richard L. Hess email: richard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information:
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.