Teaching Audio Preservation at the Kilgarlin Center for the Preservation of the Cultural Record
Sarah Cunningham, Lecturer, Kilgarlin Center, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin
The preservation and conservation of cultural works has concentrated on books, paper and photo materials for the past two decades. With the advent of affordable digital reformatting software, work stations and storage, audio preservation is now emerging as a new division in most institutions and archives.
Even though standards are still being researched many institutions have had reformatting programs in place for five or more years. To provide their students with the current developments in the field, the Kilgarlin Center for the Preservation of the Cultural Record initiated a program to teach audio preservation and reformatting. Sarah Cunningham developed and teaches the curriculum, which includes an introductory class with a lab and an intermediate class dealing with the problems of audio preservation.
Teaching reformatting, proper care and handling, storage and economic models for reformatting in a developing field is a difficult task. Introducing students to the world of degrading carriers: cylinders, wire recordings, a variety of discs, magnetic recordings and CDs is an adventure into our audible past.
The students receive hands-on instruction while learning to aim at the moving targets of changing standards, evolving sampling rates and resolution. Quality control, workflows, problems with magnetic tape and budgets for outsource vs. in-house programs are examined. Ms. Cunningham’s stories of teaching proper playback techniques (i.e. teaching students how to use a turntable) will amuse and will remind us of the important roll audio plays in history and in our emerging cultural record.
Ms. Cunningham’s experiences span from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library to the Historic Recordings Music Collection at the University of Texas. She is also working on a review of audio preservation literature for the Library of Congress. RETURN TO SCHEDULE
Conservation of Digital Records: a Collaborative Electronic Records Project of the Rockefeller Archive Center and the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Riccardo Ferrante, Information Technology Archivist, Smithsonian Institution Archives
The Rockefeller Archive Center and the Smithsonian Institution Archives represent two very different organizations working to address the challenges of establishing operational electronic record archives. In our joint work to preserve and manage records of digital and mixed media formats, our organizational differences bring as much value to our investigation as the common challenge of processing and preserving digital records in a high quality and efficient manner.
The Collaborative Electronic Records Project is working with two primary goals: 1) a system model easily adapted to other medium or small-sized non-profit organizations; 2) localized and functional electronic records archives systems in place at the Center and the Archives. This multi-year project focuses on the preservation and maintenance of email records and other common digital formats. Managing collections and accessions in analog and digital physical formats also warrant attention.
The Rockefeller Archive Center is the repository of permanent, historical records from over twenty actively depositing entities. The Smithsonian Institution Archives maintains the historical records of the largest museum and research complex in the world. Additionally, the Smithsonian Institution Archives serves as the Institutional record manager with responsibility for official records that have limited retention periods.
The Smithsonian Institution Archives kicked off its Electronic Records Program in the mid-1990s. During the first several years, it focused on internal research, policy development, and education of the Institution staff. With the creation of the Information Technology Archivist position in 2003, the Archives moved into a new season of actively preserving websites, email, and numerous other digital formats, applying best practices methodology.
This session will focus specifically on the Archives’ experience preserving Smithsonian websites as an illustration of the broader concerns and possibilities facing organizations charged with preserving digital records. RETURN TO SCHEDULE
Direct Digital Capture of Cultural Heritage – Benchmarking American Museum Practices and Defining Future Needs
Franziska Frey, Assistant Professor, School of Print Media, Rochester Institute of Technology
Many museums, archives, and libraries are engaged in direct digital image capture of cultural heritage. This heritage encompasses works on paper, paintings, manuscripts, sculptures, and photographs, among others. Informal and formal evaluations of museum practices and the quality of the digital image archives revealed a wide range of quality. In order to move forward, it was deemed critical to benchmark practices and quality comprehensively.
“Direct Digital Capture of Cultural Heritage – Benchmarking American Museum Practices and Defining Future Needs” commenced July 2003 with financial support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project had nine major components: 1) online survey of institutional photography departments; 2) interview of key digital imaging personnel from a selection of departments; 3) compile and summarize documentary standards on imaging quality; 4) develop a quantitative testing procedure; 5) administer the test at representative institutions; 6) organize and hold a conference; 7) fully analyze information and document this program; 8) disseminate information through publications and presentations; and, 9) synthesize a report that clearly explains the findings.
The time period over which this project occurred is part of a transitional period in professional photography. It is a transition from analog (chemical) to digital photography. Accordingly, workflows optimized for analog-based input systems require a complete overhaul. The challenges faced by photographers in cultural-heritage institutions are the same as those facing photographers in other fields with the additional challenge of a consistent lack of funding for long-term support (i.e., hardware and software upgrading, data storage). In addition, expectations for quality are very high. Lastly, images produced in the studios of cultural-heritage institutions can be used as a scientific tool; e.g., studies in conservation science, placing even more stringent demands on quality.
Key findings of the project will be presented. A comprehensive final report can be found at www.cis.rit.edu/museumSurvey/reports.html. RETURN TO SCHEDULE
MIC (Moving Image Collections)
Jane D. Johnson, MIC Project Manager, Library of Congress
An overview of MIC (Moving Image Collections, pronounced ‘mike’). MIC is the product of an innovative partnership between the Library of Congress and the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA). Emerging from the National Moving Image Preservation Plans, MIC began as a preservation initiative. Fueled by an innovative architecture and strong support from the field, MIC demonstrates that recommendations rooted in the practical requirements of preserving analog artifacts can evolve into a visionary R&D platform, which serves a clientele beyond archivists and can explore the leading edge of non-textual indexing, digital rights management, and educational use. The MIC website (http://mic.loc.gov) integrates a union catalog, archive directory, and informational resources in a portal structure delivering customized information on archival moving images, their preservation, and the images themselves to diverse constituencies, including archivists, researchers, educators, and the general public. Facilitating union catalog participation is the mapping utility, which allows archives to map their own local metadata schema into the MIC core registry for import.
MIC allows users to search across multiple repositories to find current, detailed descriptions of moving images, and the images themselves, for the first time.
Moreover, MIC enables collaborative preservation decision-making and management on an international scale. Archivists can identify past preservation work and emerging critical need, reducing duplication of effort and preventing loss through deterioration, and ensuring that titles are preserved from the best surviving footage. MIC seeks to raise awareness about preservation issues and risks to our film, television and video heritage by enlightening readers as to the care of home collections, the role of archives, and the preservation process. MIC’s expert contributors, mostly AMIA members, have created and gathered hundreds of informational resources to illuminate these issues and fulfill the daily informational requirements of working archivists. RETURN TO SCHEDULE
A Case Study in Progress: What is the Difference between a Survey of a Repository and of a Collection? Surveying photographs at the Library of Congress
Andrew Robb, Conservator, Library of Congress
Paul Messier, Private Conservator, Conservation of Photographs and Works of Art on Paper
This presentation will describe the adaptation of a photograph survey performed at Harvard University in 2003 for use at the Library of Congress. Messier and Melissa Banta’s survey methodology and database design catalyzed and informed the present project to be completed in the fall of 2006. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded both projects. While the number of items in both institutions is similar, the marked difference between the centralized organization of the Library of Congress and the decentralized organization of Harvard University posed significant conceptual challenges in adapting the initial survey.
The survey methodology will be discussed, especially the challenges involved with surveying a collection of over 14 million items. While the Harvard and Library of Congress surveys involve photographs, the authors will discuss its potential application to other types of cultural property and to collections of smaller quantity. The photograph collections at the Library of Congress contain both fine art photography and visual documentation of politics, society, and daily life from across the world, most especially in the United States, and span in time from the earliest days of photography to contemporary works. RETURN TO SCHEDULE
W. Brent Seales, Associate Professor of Computer Science, University of Kentucky
This work addresses digital unwrapping of a class of damaged and fragile objects that are impenetrable for conventional imaging equipment and cannot easily be opened physically for a clear digitization. Existing document processing/analysis techniques are not able to reveal a considerable amount of the contents wrapped inside. We develop a general approach for building a readable image of an opaque, rolled or folded document from a non-destructive volumetric scan. Initial experimental results on sample scrolls show the feasibility of this method, which we believe is necessary for scholars seeking to study inaccessible texts. Our vision is that these methods will lead to viable techniques for scanning everyday opaque objects such as books without opening them. RETURN TO SCHEDULE